Apologies for the delay. I was busy all day Tuesday and did not get a chance to properly sit down and write this week’s post.
I’m jinxing myself by writing this, but in early March I started working on a book. I’ve been casually writing here and there and I am up to approximately 30,000 words. When I finish this post, I will begin writing a new scene/chapter. I plan on getting my rough draft done by summer’s end and then embark on the laborious but ultimately fulfilling task of editing. I don’t stress about it because it is simply a hobby that I enjoy, like wiffle ball or ultimate frisbee. 2015 is the most dedicated I have ever been to writing between this blog, the book, and other side projects. Here are a couple tips that have helped me to keep up with writing.
I was the most embarrassing version of an English major. I went to school for four years and I feel like I got by on skimming or only reading specific excerpts from a book in order to seem studious. It wasn’t until I was leaving school that I decided to change my ways and actively read. I made a point to read at least a book a month this year. As of today, I am at 15 and currently reading my 16th. Reading is the foundation of any writer. I’m sure insert your favorite author here didn’t get by on skimming, and neither will you. Personally, I try to be an all-encompassing reader, from fiction to non-fiction, horror, sci-fi, memoir, psychology, philosophy, etc. I read in order to be a better writer but, more importantly, I read because I enjoy reading as well as learning. That being said, you don’t have to read Deleuze or Infinite Jest if you want to be a better Keeping Up With The Kardashians slash-fiction author.
Set A Schedule
In On Writing, Stephen King recommended shooting for about 2,000 words a day. In print, this comes out to about eight pages a day. This feat is considerably easier when your day job is writing novels. Some of us have jobs or prior work to do before we can get the creative gears churning. For most of us, fortunately, there is always free time to get things done. I like to see when I have nothing going on which, at the moment, is mornings and early afternoons. From there, I like to shoot for either 1,000 words or I will set a time limit. For example, if I started writing at 2 PM I’ll stop writing at 4. Deciding what works best for you ties in to my next tip.
It’s A Hobby, Not A Job
One of the worst feelings is when your hobbies feel like chores that you have to do. Most writing tips are based on the tenet of KEEP WRITING. I’ve been working on a book for three months. In that time, there have been numerous occasions where I am simply tired of staring at the same thing over and over again. If you feel that way, write something fresh and short. I’ve written (and admittedly hastily edited) two short stories in that time as well as a few poems. I also make sure to write my Tuesdays With Jan articles which are always a good change of pace. It’s also not a crime to take a break as long as you can remember to come back.
I am intentionally avoiding discussing anything that has to do with actual writing, be it story structure, adverb use, show don’t tell, etc. There are great stories out there that seem to lack in detail and there are seemingly boring stories that are eloquently written. Both accomplishing the goal of engaging the reader. Write what you enjoy writing and learn from other writers’ successes as well as their failures.