We all have different writing schedules, different writing goals. Some may strive for a chapter a day. Some might be content to write a scene. For some it’s word count. Maybe your goal is 2000 words a day. Maybe it’s 1000. For some, moving at 100 words a day is all they can manage. When I was with the Central Florida Romance Writers, we had a 100 words a day for 100 days challenge. That’s ten thousand words at the end of the hundred days. Whatever works for you, whatever fits your schedule is right. As long as you’re consistent—and persistent—you’ll get to the end of the manuscript.
Some writers set a number of hours. Writing is a job, and just like any job, you have to show up for work and put in your time. Productivity might vary, however. I’m a word count person, not an hourly person. I try to hit 1000 words a day. Some days it’s more, some days, I don’t come close. As I mentioned in Thursday’s post, disruptions happen.
Here’s my output for July to date:
My average was 913 words per day, which isn’t too far off my goal. And, since I edit as I go, you’ll note that sometimes my word count actually dips into the negative. This average is also based on a 7 day writing week, which for some, is unrealistic.
But the real point of today’s post is to discuss when you stop writing for the day. When you hit your word count? When you get stuck?
What’s important is being able to sit down tomorrow and keep writing. I suggest that if you’re on a roll, that’s when you stop. Yes, that’s right. Stop when things are going great. Because when tomorrow rolls around, you’re going to be excited, you’re going to know what’s happening, and you’ll surge forward. Sure, you can jot down a few key “what happens next” points, but the most productive writing comes when you know what’s going on.
Another tip that works for me: print out the day’s output (I normally do this when I’ve finished a scene) and read it someplace away from the computer. For me, it’s in my reading chair, or in bed at night, which are my “pleasure reading” places. Read for flow, for overused words, for glitches (I tend to move stuff around a lot while I’m writing, so often there are simple mistakes like extra spacing, or punctuation errors left over from cutting and pasting, especially dialogue. Check transitions and continuity (another problem created by cutting and pasting).
Don’t worry about rewriting; just mark the spots with a few notes to remind you what the problem is. Then, the first writing of the next day is fixing those spots, which will get you back into the flow of writing.
But what if you’re totally stuck? Maybe you’re waiting on results for a critical piece of research and can’t move forward. There are those who have no trouble writing out of order, so they might write a scene totally out of sequence. I’m not one of them. But I will use the time to fill in my tracking board, or brainstorm ideas for other scenes. And, in a ‘worst case scenario’, when you think you’re clueless about how to get out of the corner you’ve written yourself into, or how to fix the plot hole you could drive a semi through, you can go back and start editing. That should keep you centered in the story, and you may notice a thread you weren’t aware of, or a thread you’ve dropped, and you can go back and fill in the blanks.
Before you know it, you’re moving forward again.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society