Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Finding What Works


This week my buddy, Adrian McKinty, has a post on up his blog about how the idea of writing 1000 words a day is not for everyone.

Well, of course it’s not for everyone, you say, no single method is for everyone. You need to find what works for you and stick with it.

Or, stick with it until until you move on to the next method.

At least that’s the way I feel about it now. I don’t think it ever gets easy to write a book but I do think it’s possible to learn from your experiences and not repeat every mistake. I’m at the point in the book I’m working on now where everything feels like a big mess and I’m wondering why I ever thought I could write this book in the first place. All these loose ends will never come together, there’s really no point in any of this and any ending I tack on now will just be a cheat.

I’m going to do that anyway because that’s exactly how I’ve felt with every other book I’ve written. But I learned a few things from each of those to help me here.

I learned that there will be rewrites. Editors will point out problems to me and I’ll get another chance to fix them.

I learned that no matter how much I think the ending I finally put on the book works there will some people who just don’t like it. And some people who will.

It probably wouldn’t help me to write 1000 words a day but like Stephen King said, amateurs wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work (I know how ridiculous it is for me to use any sentence that has the words “Stephen King” and “us” in it, but there you go) so I’m just going to keep plowing through this till the draft is done.

But that may not be the right method for anyone else. Maybe it would be better to take a break and think about it for a while or start writing something else and come back to it. I’ve used both those methods in the past and I may use them again sometime.

What works for you?


Scott D. Parker said...

The Streak is the Key. Last year, I wrote for 255 days straight and most, but not all, of those days had me writing at least 1,000 words/day. I chose that number because, well, it seems to be The Number. But even as I let myself dip under one grand, I kept writing. I stopped writing for awhile but I'm back on the wagon...and taking my own lessons to heart. I'm not writing 1,000/day, but I'm writing everyday since 1 May. 48 days. The Streak. Just Keep Writing.

John McFetridge said...

There's so much wisdom in the movie, Bull Durham.

"Respect the streak," is just one gem.

Dana King said...

When I'm working on a first draft, I make myself write a single-spaced page a day on workdays, two each on Saturday and Sunday. I can write more, but not less, down to noting which line I began on. (If I started on Page 36, Line 26, I have to get to at least Page 37, Line 26 before I can stop.)

Edits are a lot more catch as catch can, depending on how heavy the lifting is; I sometimes give myself time limits for each day.

Final draft is pretty rigid, and it has worked for me:
Day 1: Read Chapter 1. That's all. Read it.
Day 2: Edit Chapter 1 on the screen while reading sotto voce; read Chapter 2.
Day 3: Print and read aloud Chapter 1, making corrections on the hard copy and transferring them to the document; this is intended to be the final pass. No, "I can fix that next time." Edit Chapter 2 on the screen while reading sotto voce; read Chapter 3.

Repeat till the end, then type THE END.