When I first started out as a writer I was always very keen to learn how other authors “did it.” So I was always reading their FAQs (I still do) and one of the things that kept cropping up was this idea of “writing 1,000 words a day” – minimum. So I thought, okay that’s how to do it.
But, here’s the thing – it seems to me that sometimes 1,000 words a day is quite easy and sometimes it’s well nigh impossible. The breakthrough came for me when I realised that writing a novel involves lots of different tasks. If I’ve got a scene (or preferably a few scenes) planned out in bullet point form, then I can go ahead and churn out 1,000 or 2,000 words a day. But sometimes I just have to stop and think about where the plot is going, or I need to do some detailed research to make sure I get a scene technically right, and on those days I’m very unlikely to reach 1,000 words. Some days I only manage 100. If that.
So, instead of aiming for 1,000 words day in day out, I try to write for a certain amount of time each day. That’s not to say I don’t obsess about how many words I’ve written! I dread to think how many times in a writing session I find myself clicking on “Tools – word count” – it’s kind of addictive, I find. But still, I try to work on my current project for 2-3 hours every day, and if that results in 1,000 words, great, and if not then hopefully I’ve done something constructive with my time.
The challenge I’m setting myself for 2014 is to make sure I do 2 hours every morning BEFORE checking my emails / Twitter / Facebook / other blogs etc.
If you’re a writer, what do you do? Do you aim for a certain number of words or certain length of time? I’d love to hear from you!