Wednesday, August 19, 2009

On Writing Daily

Writing daily has been an eye-opening endeavor. I began this experiment to test myself to see if I had the chops to write every single day for an extended period of time. It started off well, following the rules I had set for several months. I then decided on pushing myself into the process of writing a novel. This did not last as long, until more recently, when I lowered the daily word count to something I felt was more attainable. During this time, I have come upon several things which I think could be helpful for others interested in writing.

Some of these thoughts are as follows:

  1. Your daily writing does not have to be good. Editing is much easier when you have something to edit. It is much more difficult when there is nothing there. Get it written even if you think you'll remove it later. What you think is horrible now may actually turn out to be worth keeping in the final draft.

  2. Your word count does not have to be high. One hundred words a day is attainable, as I have already written more than that in this post. If that is too much, try fifty. If it is too little, make it five hundred. Every little bit adds up over time, and it may even lead you to write more each day than you have set as a goal.

  3. The more you write, the more ideas you will be able to build on. Several ideas for short stories and novels have grown from simple writing prompts or randomly generated ideas from various sources. If you keep the ideas in your head, you are not very likely to ever write them.

  4. Find a time that works best for you to write. At first I wrote right before I went to sleep, but I found myself staying up later than I should have in order to make my word count for that day. I recently used a drop in my work hours to my advantage, finding an extra hour after work where it made no sense for me to go home before I had to pick up my wife from work. This extra hour has been invaluable in that I have found it to be productive in writing anywhere from one to five hundred words each day on various projects.

  5. Life has distractions, and they can be an excuse not to write. I found a nice place to write in the local mall. I found some tables near the front door with heavy foot traffic. The tables are across from a Starbucks where everyone orders their drinks. It can be noisy sometimes. Try writing during lunch breaks, with your morning coffee, or even sitting on the couch while someone else watches T.V.

  6. Having other people read your writing as you go can lead you to be a better writer. Putting my stuff out for everyone to read and comment on has made me more receptive to criticism. I think it has helped my writing improve, and like anything, the more you do something, the better you will get at it.

  7. Even if you get out of the habit, you can forgive yourself and get back on it. There have been a few times that life circumstances have made it impossible to write. There have been times that I have just been lazy and found excuses (not specified in my list of excuses) to put off writing. The temptation is to give up completely, but by putting the past behind you, the ability to keep going is always there.
I hope some of these things I have learned are helpful and encouraging to others. Hopefully there will be much more to read from me.