Writing Habits

Discussion in 'General Writing' started by BillyxRansom, Aug 9, 2008.

  1. U.G. Ridley

    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid

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    No, no, the Queen is definitely here, and I think she prefers queen with capital Q.:coffee:

    Joking aside, I know people's writings styles are very different, but I'm starting to wonder if being a slow writer works if you want to make genuine progress in a reasonable amount of time. Once you're established and have mastered all the basics of just writing, then sure, you can spend as much time as you want just fleshing out your stories in your head without touching the keyboard, but before then? I dunno. I'm just an eighteen-year-old kid who's only been doing this for three years, and most of those three years were spent in a state of mindless static, pretty much, so I'm as ignorant here as anyone. But I know that for me, I sort of pretended for a while that the way I handled writing was fine; that waiting for inspiration to hit, only writing a few thousand words a months - if even that - was a fine way to become a great writer fast, but the progress I've made between when I was maybe sixteen to when I turned eighteen was minimal at best, whereas this past month when I've been writing like a madman, I'm seeing progress being made every day. I can literally sense all the little turning points where my brain goes "OH!" and figures out something new, things that no lectures or crafting books ever helped me realize, because they are lessons you can't really learn without doing the work yourself. I'm not saying it's the right way, but I think all writers should at least try to force themselves to write on a strict schedule for a few months, because I feel like a lot of people haven't ever gone through with trying it, and so they are just stuck in this place where they are barely writing, barely making progress, and letting valuable time pass them by, time that could be used to really get better.

    Wow... I just had me a little rant there. Anyways, thank you all for your replies, and good luck on your writing:geek:! That includes you @Queen! Haha.
     
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  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think it definitely makes sense to experiment and push yourself, sure! And if you find something that seems to be working, go for it!
     
  3. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

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    I write four hours per day, five days per week, so in a month (with an average of 22 working days) I spend 88 hours writing which is potentially an output of (and here I'm estimating) anywhere from 100 to 300 pages (25,000 to 75,000 words)... but some days, the best I do is 100 words.

    For me, it's not so much about output as it is noses and grindstones. ;)

    As for goals, I set the goal of having the current draft of my WIP done by the end of June. Then it got pushed to the end of July. Now, it's set for the end of August. We'll see how that works out.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2016
  4. funandgames

    funandgames New Member

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    I'm brand new to writing, and I aim to write 1000 words per day. Now these are not finished, done with words. These are 1000 words of bad grammar, terrible pacing and plot holes that I will fix later. I just needed to get those words out, otherwise I would spend three weeks writing and rewriting the same paragraph hundreds of times, getting nowhere.

    Seems to work for me.

    So far.
     
  5. AASmith

    AASmith Senior Member

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    Its hard to say. Not every month will be the same because some months I may be writing a first draft therefore I write a lot! at least 2000 works a day every day (on the weekends it could be more and during the week it could be less depending on how hard I worked during the weekend). Now that I'm writing the second draft/editing I am not writing a lot. I am also the type to write one novel at a time. I may write a short story here or there though. There have also been times that I didnt write at all for the entire month.

    ETA: Yes i do set goals during the first draft. My goals are to write every day and to write 2000 words a day at least. I try to write at least 4000 works a day on the weekends. I typically hit my goal.
     
  6. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    Difficult to answer when you're as inconsistent as me. I've been averaging about 1,000 a day for the last few days, so if I could maintain that the answer would be about 30,000 words.

    Truth is I won't maintain that, so I can't answer.
     
  7. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I've always had trouble with the idea of fixing things later. That doesn't mean I don't have to edit and revise, but fixing things along the way just helps me from feeling overwhelmed. If it's going to take you three weeks to fix a paragraph, just imagine how many paragraphs you will have to fix at the end and how many weeks that will take, Plus, once you start to fix the same kind of mistakes, you are less likely to make them. That doesn't sound like getting nowhere to me. I hate it when people assume a first draft has to be bad. It doesn't.
     
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  8. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I write what seems right - sometimes that's nothing , sometimes its several thousand .. this evening I've just written 600, some days i don't go to bed but just sit up writing and writing (that generally leads to the discovery the next day that I've written an extensive pile of crap, but occasionally there are gems)

    I tend to find that if i set myself a target i'm less likely to achieve it than if i just go with the flow ... ( I'm also a pantser as I find rigorous planning a sure cause of writers block)
     
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  9. U.G. Ridley

    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid

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    The reason why a lot of people don't fix and edit first drafts until they are finished is because it can quickly become a waste of time. You never know if you figure out something new about your story that forces you to change earlier chapters. Imagine then that you've spent hours editing whatever chapter now needs to be scrapped or largely re-written. You've now added several more hours of editing to your to-do list. Then, once you've re-written and edited everything that needed changing, you keep writing the rest of the first draft - possibly feeling worn out by the monotonous hours spent editing. The ideas might not come to you as quickly, things don't flow as well, requiring you to do more and more post-draft editing, and would ya look at that! - another one of your new chapters forces you to re-write an earlier one. Oh, darn. Guess that's another few hours of editing then!

    That's why a lot of people say first drafts are usually bad, and why a lot of the greatest authors seem to agree. It's okay that they are bad; in a way, they're supposed to be. Because you are still exploring the world, the characters, and the story. If re-writing all the time works for you, then that's awesome of course, but for most people, it's a huge disadvantage. It just leads to more and more work when all you really have to do is finish a first draft to figure out the story, write a second draft to fix all the inconsistencies, write however many more drafts you need to write to perfect the story, and then start editing.
     
  10. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I see a problem in thinking writing is ever supposed to be bad.
     
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  11. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Keep writing. Contributor

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    Don't think of it as bad, think of it as raw. You have to feed a cow, build up some mass, before you can cook a steak.


    And now i'm hungry.
     
  12. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I just prefer to write at my best always. I don't think about fixing things later. If something is wrong, I think it benefits me to fix it before writing another 150 pages or before writing even one more page. I write pretty clean copy because I've always expected that of myself. I don't want to write anything "raw." I want to write at a publishable level. That's what I practice now and aim for now. If I have a mess at the end, I won't even bother.
     
  13. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Keep writing. Contributor

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    Whatever floats your boat.

    Sounds exhausting to me, then again, I'm that special type of lazy who uses spellcheck as an excuse to completely forget the order letters are supposed to go into words.
     
  14. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Supporter Contributor

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    This line of thinking is utterly foreign to me. You make it sound like editing is a bad thing, a tedious thing that is to be avoided if at all possible. To me, editing/revision/rewriting is the entire ball of wax, so to speak. It's the most fun and creative part of the whole writing enterprise. That's the main reason I revise as I go. I find it almost impossible - and certainly undesirable - to move on to a new paragraph if the previous paragraphs aren't polished jewels.
     
  15. U.G. Ridley

    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid

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    Again, if it works for you, that's awesome. But it's not how a lot of people work, and there's certainly no need to take issue in that. When I say writing is supposed to be bad, I mean that if you are going to write a great story, then you need to explore it before you polish it. You can't polish something in the dark and expect it to be shining when the lights are turned on. That's a stupid analogy, but it's the way I see it.
     
  16. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Keep writing. Contributor

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    Some of my rough drafts might give you an aneurysm.

    MC:runs away from the (something, ill figure it out)
    (something): makes a creepy (clicking?) type of noise
    2nd Character: you think it hunts by sight or soun- (gets eaten)
    MC: thinks its probably sound.
     
  17. U.G. Ridley

    U.G. Ridley I'm a wizard, Hagrid

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    Like with the other guy, if you like doing it that way, that's awesome. I'm just explaining why some people don't do it that way, including myself. Editing is not a bad thing, and I don't know what made you think that that is my view. I'm talking about the process of writing, when to edit, and when to just wait. I love editing, what I don't love is spending hours doing so and finding out later that everything I polished has to be scrapped and re-written, and then - by your standards - be polished again.
     
  18. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    Here's a quote that always stuck with me from the second I read it:
    "The essence of writing is rewriting" --William Zinsser in On Writing Well

    Maybe that process works for you, but it seems silly for me. And I mean no offense by this. But if I felt that way, without allowing myself to write sloppily because not every word is near perfect, I wouldn't write. It would suck all of the fun out of it.
     
  19. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I'm kind of torn. I sympathise wholly with @U.G. Ridley. I too find it very difficult to move on from a sentence until I'm happy with it, but I'm learning that perhaps a balance can be struck. Write to the best of your ability, as close to how you think the final edit will look, but if you're struggling with a word or sentence, force yourself to move on, safe in the knowledge that the right words will come to you on the second re-write/edit.
     
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  20. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I think it's all about how you process it. Some people get nervous about writing and it helps them to take off all pressure. And some people work better under pressure. Though, to me, I don't feel like I'm under pressure really. I got my start in writing working for newspapers where editors would scream out your mistakes in front of the whole newsroom. When you work for a daily newspaper, you really don't have time for second drafts or to write crap. Now that I write fiction, I still don't see it as a time to start writing crap. Allowing myself to write crap means I might actually write crap. And that's a scary thought for me.
     
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  21. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    I suppose that's true and background plays a role in it. I haven't been writing for very long, and certainly, I have trouble starting at times.

    I absolutely see the value in editing as you go. I've been doing that more recently and finding some success. I think some of the problem I have with that method is I don't always see the issues at the time of writing the story. If that makes sense. It seems to take me some time to step away from the work to be able to apply a critical eye.

    Maybe that comes with practice. With your newspaper experience, I'm sure you had to learn to do just that, to apply a critical eye as soon as the words hit the page, I mean.
     
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  22. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I'm a few years into fiction now. I write at a much slower speed, but I also don't want to lose my ability for clean and clear writing. I write the best I can every time I write. That's not to say that I never have to make changes later, but it does meaning I make less of them later. If I don't make grammar or spelling mistakes as I write, I don't really have to worry about that later. If I realize having my characters meet in a seedy bar was the wrong way to go, I will go back and change it to a coffee shop if I think that works better. Sure, I could wait until the end, but I would constantly be thinking about that change. And changes like that can sometimes affect the outcome of a story. I'm not trying to push my way of thinking on anyone. I just don't want people thinking they have to write crap and allowing themselves to do that will make things any easier.
     
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  23. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    It definitely comes with time. I'm the type of person that has to learn something by doing it. Proper grammar is slowly coming along for me now that I've written with poor grammar and got to see my mistakes first hand, ran into complicated grammar rules, etc.

    I suppose we all have different methods to a similar end.
     
  24. The Elder One

    The Elder One Member

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    I am terrible when it comes to consistency for writing.

    My project is a retro spy novel set in the 60s, and I find that some times I just can't focus on it, for example, I have been writing normally every day, when suddenly I became interested in biker culture, started reading on it, watching videos of motorcycle clubs and gangs, Harley Davidson models, all unrelated stuff I can't even lie to myself saying I'm doing research for it. And the worst thing is, when the time comes to start writing, the plot and the ideas to continue are there, but I feel like I'm forcing myself and not enjoying it.

    So now, should I try to focus or just wait for my interest in unrelated things go away and come back to it then? Does anyone ever experience this sort of thing?
     
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  25. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    I consider writing every day to be tosh as a rule. It's not the gold standard, because there is no gold standard. If you, like me, don't respond to such deadlines at all, and only produce trash when it's forced, then my advice would be to simply not bother forcing it. Let the writing ebb and flow. As long as you do actually get something down, you're doing everything right.
     

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