1. Chesster
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    Chesster Member

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    Regimented Writing

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Chesster, Jun 23, 2014.

    Now I know the act of taking writing seriously requires a discipline that many struggle to live by, but I was just wondering if you (talking to the writing forum collective) set a daily or weekly target in terms of words?

    This forum is home to a whole host of writers all differing in ability and experience, but it interests me to know how regimented some of you are.
     
  2. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hell no. I only write late at night when I cannot sleep.
     
  3. Eedjii
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    Eedjii Member

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    Well, I don't have an exact goal. But I try to write something every day. A hundred or so words minimum I suppose.
     
  4. AJC
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    AJC Active Member

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    I usually spend a few hours each weekend writing. That's when I have the most free time. The downside of this is that it takes me a few months to complete a final draft.
     
  5. BookLover
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    BookLover Contributing Member

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    I wish I could set a daily word limit. I try and fail. It's kind of like dieting. I eat healthy for a few days and then, "Oh, cake!"
     
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  6. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I'm working on a novel, I try to hit between 800 and 1500 words a day, usually averaging around 1000. It's important for me to keep that momentum going or I risk losing steam.
     
  7. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I always advise new and experienced writers to never ever worry about word count for any reason beside meeting a set amount for a regulated submission. Any other reason is just wrong to live by.

    I am not the only one who has horror stories of stressing over writing X words a day or having Y words per chapter. You can mash out 10,000 words in a day but that's meaningless if they're not written properly or well thought out.

    Instead of telling yourself to write X words, tell yourself you will give yourself the chance to write honestly (Meaning actually sitting down and writing rather than staring at a blank page or browsing WF.org) and make sure to create a time or find moments where you're able to do so.

    It's never about how much you wrote or how fast, but about simply writing, learning, and disciplining yourself to be an excellent writer whether you have only 30 minutes a day during your commute or six hours per day to give to your writing.

    It's not even about words = content, which is an untrue mind set. More words simply mean more words, whether they add to the work in any positive manner or not. There is no excellence in story telling about a thousand words describing me the beauty of the architecture of a house when all I need to know is the living room.

    So, just write honestly. Word count doesn't matter as all it does is hinder and causes stress.
     
  8. Chesster
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    Chesster Member

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    I probably manage a quarter of that per day, but one of the main reasons I started this thread, is I want to begin to set myself a higher target and up my game. My life is sadly a fairly set pattern now, so I am looking at spotting spaces in my schedule to hit a more regimented, higher output.

    This can only be beneficial?
     
  9. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    250 words = 1 page in manuscript format.
    Nothing shameful or low-game about writing a page per day. I know some pro-writers who spend a week on just a couple of paragraphs because they can't get them right instead of writing further on.

    A writer's game isn't about writing more (in terms of words) but about consistently writing and doing that well and so selling well enough. G.R.R. Martin doesn't write everyday and he's the biggest player at the moment. So don't force yourself to write more than you can or lower your oen quality for an amount of words.

    Just write daily, like a daily workout, or having to go to work daily.

    Think of it this way, do musicians ever tell themselves: "Today, I will play 10,000 notes?" No, they play the individual piece or pieces multiple times and once they get it right they start playing segments over and over until their hands bleed because they want to get it just right. I say this as a cellist myself.

    If you can increase your word per day output, great. It means you got further than you normally do, and that is a good thing. However, that comes with experience and time. I've been writing for nearly 12 years now so is it a suprise I managed to type between 55-80wpm? Or that I can do 10,000 words if I do NOT stop writing all day.

    It wasn't magic or forcing myself to go beyond my capabilities by writing more words, but simply by learning how to write better, dedication to keep writing, and simply experience in putting down stories in form of words. Eventually, my speed picked up and the amount I wrote became greater because I began to understand the writer inside of me rather than trying to force him to get better without getting better first.

    Having a goal is good, but X amount of words is not a good goal. Just write honestly and keep at it, you will notice your quality and output grow over time without sacrificing quality or burning out.
     
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  10. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bingo.

    In fact, one of the most important skills of an author is the ability to say more with fewer words.

    Ever since I started speech and debate, this statement by Mark Twain has resonated with me. It is just as true for writing as it is for speaking.

    "If you want me to give you a two-hour presentation, I am ready today. If you want only a five-minute speech, it will take me two weeks to prepare."
     
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  11. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    The only time I concern myself with word count is when my project is completed.

    I try to write daily. Sometimes I manage an entire chapter or more, other times I may only make it a few paragraphs because I spend so much time working out a scene or dialogue. I sit down with the idea I'm going to write something and make forward progress, and I stop when I'm at a good spot (typically a chapter end) or I'm tired and my mind is starting to wander. I never force myself to write...I only create garbage when I'm not 'into' it. I just rolled into here after finishing a chapter. I could have continued writing, but the next chapter is a different character POV and I need to reset my mind into being that person next. Better I wait for tomorrow's session and start fresh than try to do it tonight.

    I write for myself, not to fulfill a contract or deadline.
     
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  12. sunsplash
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    sunsplash Bona fide beach bum

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    I'm a "write when in the mood" type. I participated in my first Camp NaNoWriMo in April and, while I completed my word goal, it was a real struggle for me some days when my thoughts weren't translating well to the page or I had no ideas at all. I pushed through because of the deadline and my determination to "win" but it overall wasn't as enjoyable with that pressure on me. It was an interesting challenge but my creativity seems more stifled with deadlines and my inner rebel does not like the discipline necessary to meet goals routinely.
     
  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think you've highlighted an important point. There is more to writing than sitting at the computer, tapping away.

    Ideas need to cook. You need to allow yourself time to think about your story, play with your characters, visualise your scenes, and, as you say, get into the minds of various characters. Maybe some writers can just sit down and start typing and this transformation happens. For me, though, I need to be in the zone, or else what I churn out is just rubbish. It not only gets deleted the next day, but if it happens too often it can reinforce the idea that I can't really write.

    Sometimes it's better to spend time thinking about the story, rather than writing it. Good on you for bringing this point up.

    Procrastination is a different issue, though. If all you've ever got are ideas and you never get them written down, then something needs to change.
     
  14. Chesster
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    Chesster Member

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    This is where I am at present.
     
  15. Chesster
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    I love the idea of this, but putting it into practise is another story. Definitely a sign of a great writer.
     
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  16. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't care about a daily word count. I do try to work on my writing for a minimum amount of time each day, although some days RL takes precedence. I think setting either a minimum time or minimum word count is important for beginning writers, because habits need to be formed, discipline developed. For beginners, it's too easy to slide because they only write when they feel like it (or worse, when "the muse strikes"). More experienced writers can take breaks more easily, because the procrastination factor has been eliminated. The breaks are planned, the return a matter of course.
     
  17. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    Honestly, I'm a new writer so I set a word goal. I try to beat any lethargy into the ground like the disease it is. With my first novel being clicked away at my desk right now, I try to get the thing hammered out and finished so that I can start the next one. Putting out garbage isn't the right answer, but this is a business and if you do get a deal they'll expect more books. A lot of them. I try to remind myself that I'm not going to get "good" at this until I do a lot of it and the only way that happens is if I sit my lazy ass down in the seat and get going.

    To quote Petyr Baelish: "When you find yourself in bed with an ugly woman best close your eyes and get it over with."
     
  18. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I try to make sure at least part of my day is devoted to writing. That might mean actual writing. But it also could mean researching, reading to analyze technique, outlining, editing, critiquing others or engaging in serious discussion (as opposed to chit chat) here about writing issues. It might even mean going for a long walk and working out a problem I'm having with something I'm writing. And, when I get to that point, it might also mean querying agents and other steps to (I hope) further the publishing process.

    But sometimes, that is not possible. One of the reasons I am still looking to publish my first novel at my age is that real life has a way of really fouling up one's brilliantly conceived master plan.
     
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  19. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't make a daily or weekly word count goal. I fit in writing where I can. I make it a priority, but it's not the top priority.
     
  20. xanadu
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    That completely depends on your process. It works for me because I never really have to "force" myself to write. I'm usually brainstorming ideas while I'm doing other things throughout the day (like working, but don't tell anyone...), so when I sit down to write I already have a sense of what I want to accomplish. I also write linearly, so I'm always picking up right where I left off the last time, and I usually have no trouble recapturing that flow. I'm not one to just write a ton of garbage on the first draft, either--I think about what I want to say and how before writing it. So the quality of the writing is usually pretty consistent (at whatever level...I'd like to think pretty good!).

    So for me it works because it keeps the momentum going and keeps me focused. I don't adhere to it religiously, but I'll try to meet it every day and make it up the next day if I don't. If real life gets in the way, well, that's the way it goes. Real life wins. Otherwise, I like the focus and pace my method affords me. It's really helped me get a lot accomplished.

    But that's me. It may not work for you--everyone's got a different process. But as long as you're putting words on the page and actually finishing what you start, how you get there really doesn't matter, does it?
     
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  21. koyelevergreen
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    koyelevergreen Member

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    Well I am a really serious writer but it takes a lot of effort on my part to balance the two different worlds of teaching Mathematics and writing. I am kind of juxtaposed between the two.
     
  22. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    For a long time I adhered to a 2000 words a day target, and did not go to bed until I achieved it. Now with more books under my belt, I average 1000 words a day. Naturally this is after the main research and plot design is complete.
     
  23. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    You said it more succinctly than I did. I think this bears repeating. I drive for my job--a lot--and this gives me ample time to ponder every detail of my stories before the laptop is turned on. I've actually had to pull over to write down ideas or even complete scenes of dialogue that came to me as I 'directed' the scene in my imagination. (It would be a good time to suggest to all that you carry a means of taking notes at all times, for when this happens it's GOLD and you'll kick yourself later if you don't.)

    Someone else mentioned writing in a linear fashion, and I do the same for a couple of reasons. One, it forces me to write some of the 'drudgery' between exciting scenes. Two, it's much easier for me to keep track of what's going on. Three, as alluded to earlier (and I didn't realize it until now) it makes returning to the 'flow' of the story far less troublesome. I just pick up where I left off. It only takes a quick read of a preceding paragraph to get me back into the mood/scene/etc.
     
  24. jannert
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    @ddavidv Oh yes. The dog-eared notebook! I've always got one handy myself. I used to walk to work, not drive ...and so many story ideas, dialogue exchanges, etc came while I was walking. I can still point out the garden wall I leaned against to scribble down the idea that became the inciting incident in my novel.

    I did not write my novel in a linear fashion at all. It was my first novel, and I finished the entire first draft before I started getting writing advice, or reading how-to books. I just wrote scenes as they came to me and linked them later on.

    However, I've been doing my new one in a linear fashion. It's just evolved that way this time. Because it's a direct sequel to the first one, a lot of backstory is not only set in stone, but the characters are already developed, and the scenario doesn't need a lot of explaining. I've got a much clearer idea of what will happen in this one. I've got the first three chapters done, and have started on the fourth ...we'll see if this method works. It makes sense. It's just not how I did my first, so it's a departure.
     
  25. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Currently I do have a goal of 500 a day. I tend to be verbose and write much more than that anyway. It is only an hour or two of a mind dump, and then I can relax and rest, knowing I have accomplished something.
     
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