Friday, March 24, 2006

A Definitive Change in Perspective

So as most people know I have slowly but surely been trudging my way through my first romance novel.

For anyone that has been keeping tabs I first started this mad endeavour back in July 2003. It has been nearly 3 years- with only 11,000 words to show for it.

I have had many reasons (excuses) why the progress has been so slow, ranging from stress to a cluttered living room.

Then I stumbled across a writing course offered by the AWAI (American Writers and Artist Institute). The course moderators are all writers and best-sellers as well as people who have been freelance copy-readers for the industry hotshots or have mad connections.

At first I was elated at the idea of having so many influential people reading my stuff.

Elaborate dreams (of getting that call from one of the moderators who gushes about the undiscovered, untapped talent she perceives in my books and how she absolutely MUST-ohmigodhowcanshenot?-tell all her industry friends about me) occupied much of my class time (after all, listening to 8 year olds whine for 85 minutes at a time is a slow death).

But did the writing follow the excitement? *sigh* Indeed not.

Then last week something happened. I was visiting the discussion forum for the romance writing course and one of the other students had shared a tip.

Aim to write 100 words a day. However meaningless and trite it may seem, it is 3000 words at the end of the month more than the person who doesn't.

Reading that I snorted out loud. To an empty apartment I scoffed, "What kind of lazy-ass writer can't write 100 words a day?!"

Umm.....and then I realized to my great mortification that I could count at least one.

So I decided to give it a try. I sat and wrote 100 words. It took 10 minutes. And I realized how pathetic it was that I wasn't already in the habit of doing so.

Then I decided to see how much I could write in 30 minutes. (500words approx.)
So then I moved it up to half an hour twice a day.

And then the competitive side of me took over, formed an alliance with my creative side and made a pact with that part of my soul that is sick to death of being in this country and a plan was born.

The plan? Write for 30 minutes before work and at least an hour but for as long as I can at night.

Now I am always writing. Always.

It was a definitive change in how I approach my writing. By thinking of it in chunks- as a simple word count- I have found the magic key necessary to release the flood gates of my creativity and productivity.

And you know what else? Now not only am I writing for longer periods of time but I am getting more efficient at writing within the time frame. The same 30 minutes writing period that resulted in roughly 500 words last week has me up to 900 now (as of 11 am this morning)

In the last week I have managed to write a little over 10,000 words.

That means that in the past 7 days I have written almost as much as I had written to date since starting the book 3 years ago.

I am 20,000 words (rounded down) into it. The total word count expected by the industry is 100,000. I am 1/5 finished my book. 20% closer to realizing my dream.

And it all started with 100 of the most important words I have ever written. *^_^*

By chantal - 10:17 AM |

Comments:
wow that sounds like some great advice.
I start my first fantacy type novel about two years ago, and I have managed 51 000 words, but most of that was in the first year. I suspect another 50 000 words is necessary to bring the story to an end. Currently the story is 86 pages, and when I do get the chance to sit and write I have no problem with the flow of ideas, however the constant flow of my life, work ( lot's of over time lately) my photography course, which is going great, swimming, my sisters baby shower all seem to take huge chunks of time, that in the end I don't feel much like doing much writing. But I'll will try your idea. Maybe not much writting before work, but 1/2 hour at the end of the day could create some great progress.
 
Funny, that advice is almost identical to the main crux of Stephen King's On Writing, write so many pages in a given day. Period. It didn't talk so much about how to tease out a plot, which is funny because if anything King is a master of plot, but I guess that part of it came so naturally to him that it didn't even occur to him how to put that part down as instructions.

I hear the same thing from artists I know as well, that most of their time isn't spent working on their master works, but in doing perspective drawing exercises and that sort of thing, to hone their skill at the craft so they don't have to think about the mundaine, mechanical parts when they're really inspired.
 
i'm glad you posted this. thanks
 
I think the crux of it is to just write. It doesn't matter if it's great or utter crap. Just get into a groove, habit. The quality bit comes with time and practice.

Although it's not quite the same, some of the coding I do or even how I tackle some of my side projects share simular approach. Don't just sit around trying to come up with the perfect solution. Try things. Experiment. Sometimes you find something better than you were initially looking for. Some of the best ideas come from the ashes of previously failed attempts.

I always like simple and easily attainable tasks. I actually write "Get milk" or "Check mail" or stuff that take like a minute to do. It creates a sense of accomplishment and helps motivate you to do more.
 
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