Yesterday my goal was to write 10,000 words. I wrote 10,500 words. I wrote 9,600 of fiction, and another 900 on a draft of this blog.
I feel a bit self conscious about saying it. On one hand I'm proud of myself for writing so much and know that by doing so I'm cutting days, maybe weeks, off the time it'll take me to finish my first story. And yet I don't want to sound like “that guy”, bragging about what he can do, that others can't. I know how hard writing can be for so many writers, and for me most of the time as well. But to hell with it, I (and every other writer) must get the words out.
Some writers have it easy. They can write X amount of words each and every day. Others struggle through every single word they put down—they edit while they write, an unfortunate curse upon many a creative soul.
When I'm on, I can write 10,000 words in a “shift”. Wake up at 8, start writing at 9, and be done by 3 or 4 in the afternoon. To do this once is, to me, not a big deal. But I can't write this much every day. I do want to get to where I can write this much twice a week. That way I can go into a story for hours, sit on it, write the words, get ideas, then for two or three days I can chill my brain before I do it again.
I'm not consistent every day. Stephen King talked about writing 2,000 words a day, every day without end. I can't do that. I go through periods of writers' block. I'll write really well for two months, then can't write a grocery list for another two months. I can't keep up with it every day and eventually burn myself out.
Bodybuilders can't grow if they work the same muscle every day. Rest, for them, is the magical potion that transforms wimpy looking kids into 230-pound giants. I am going against the grain of all the experts who write stories for a living, but I believe that this same principle will work for my writing as well. If I can merely touch base with the story between my writing days, it should stay fresh in my mind. That shouldn't be hard to do. I won't be writing fresh copy, but I'll be brainstorming.
Catching lightning in a bottle can be dangerous, but if fire could be stolen from the gods, I'm sure I can steal words from my muse at least twice a week (on Monday and Thursday, for instance). Can I write 10,000 words in a day, two days a week? If I can, can I do it every week, or at least three weeks out of every month?
This would leave me with 5 days each week to do whatever I want. I can edit, I can market, I can blog, I can play guitar, watch TV and movies, listen to music, and whatever else I can do to regenerate. I have five days where I'm not writing and still have 20,000 words every week. A rough draft for a novel every month, or two novellas.
The time off is precisely why I think this will work for me. I'm not writing for a quota every day, and so I can relax whatever brain wave operates my creativity. 10,000 words is a LOT of words, but ask most writers and they'll say 2,000 is a lot. Writing even 2,000 words every day can be a burden on the mind. For me, after a few months of that I'm ready for a few months off. I must find a way around this. My brain agrees.
I can, thankfully, explain the process for getting the words out—even if it's only once in a while.
I use all of my Taoist powers to be completely in the moment.
No doubt creeps in. Doubt is the muse killer. Muses like to have fun, and can't stand the company of buzz killers. So to lure the muse I must be positive. The muse doesn't always come, but the muse never comes when I'm down on my abilities.
I trust that anything I write today can be edited tomorrow. I don't think about it. I do it! Obviously if I'm thinking, there's a good chance that some or most of my thoughts will be negative, so I never second-guess anything, even the notes I take.
I cut out distractions. I turn music on. I turn my internet off. I hide the clicker to the television. I close blinds and shut off phones. I hide from the world. I can take a walk when I'm done. I can eat when I'm done. I can emerge from my cocoon when I am done.
When I'm focused totally on the page (sometimes I reduce the screen size to a minimum so I can't read up), I write. I let go and let everything out. This is the part I can't explain. It's the part that, for most writers, is a complete mystery. It's the fun part. The creative process. I know how to get the words out, but I don't know where the ideas come from, and without ideas there are no words. I'm hoping that a little R&R between sessions will help them flow more easily, especially when they would otherwise not flow at all.