View Full Version : Writing Every Day

11-17-2013, 12:37 AM
It sounds like a really simple goal, but the fact was, that I had this idea for a novel, but I did so little actual writing!

And it was always cyclic: I'd write for a while, get 2-3k words in, absolutely hate everything that I came up with, and delete everything off the face of the earth.

So Earlier this year, I decided to make myself write every day. I went into this, knowing that I'd probably not like what I'd come up with, and that my inner-critic would bite my butt off, and I'd have to resist the urge to want to delete, and go back and edit.

I've done pretty well for myself. Not perfect, as you can see (https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0ApfwUIo825qIdHR5Z0ZCTWgzUFF6UVNXZ2t5TXlzc Hc#gid=0) (October was particularly bad).

But I still have a problem. I keep starting drafts over again. I think I've started this novel about 12 different times. To be fair, it's gotten better each time, but I'm desperate for a single finished draft.

So it's a mixed bag of kittens. But I'm better off than I was last year, with a novel stuck solely in my head.

11-17-2013, 02:52 AM
Zach, that's pretty impressive, to me anyway. Me who hasn't written a word today except internet posts, and it's already dark...

I tend not to delete anything, even if I know it sucks. Often its concept is sound, or the structure is good--things I can reuse in a rewrite. So there's that to consider.

Maryn, whose hard drive is pretty empty, actually

Siri Kirpal
11-17-2013, 03:28 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

What I do when I'm in delete mode is either leave it for the next day (when I may decide I like it) or put the section in a special "morgue" file that's part of the book's folder. If it's in the morgue, I can retrieve the bits that are better than I first thought.

Hope that helps. Keep up!


Siri Kirpal

11-17-2013, 05:02 AM
I do exactly the same as Siri - i have a document with all the bits I've cut that i think still could work somewhere, and every now and then i think 'this conversation could work in my next chapter,' and suddenly my word count goes up again without me even trying!

11-17-2013, 05:33 AM
Thank you all for your kind thoughts!

Lately, I've been much better about not deleting things, mostly because I'm using Scrivener, which means everything can be tucked away. Still, I think this project is on it's 3rd new Scrivener project file, just because of how much the characters have grown and the story's changed.

and Maryn -- my hard drive is almost full, but that's because I have every season of several TV shows stuck on here. (I need my Glee!).

Maybe that's why my word count is so low for the number of hours I put in -- that, and the fact that I insist on writing everything in order, and it's kind of a grind.

11-18-2013, 06:41 PM
Working every day is a big first step.

The next big step for you sounds like forging ahead and not looking back, no matter how the Inner Editor shrieks at you. Until I learned to do this, I too had a hundred starts and no finished draft.

Buy a good pair of Editor-blocking mental headphones. Truly priceless, in my experience. You can and you will fix it later.

11-18-2013, 06:42 PM
Zach, I've always written in bursts, too. Nine months ago, I decided I'd write at least 250 words a day (easy, since so many writers were telling me it only takes fifteen minutes to write 250 words). They lied. It can take me fifteen minutes but I'm usually at least an hour at the word processor.

Some days I write more. I don't let myself write less.

I'm halfway through my novel and can't wait to finish. I prefer writing in bursts. This daily thing? It DOESN'T get easier.

11-18-2013, 07:16 PM
nd it was always cyclic: I'd write for a while, get 2-3k words in, absolutely hate everything that I came up with, and delete everything off the face of the earth.

I don't let myself re-read any of my own writing (except the intro chapter or two) until my first draft is at least 90% written. The first time I re-read most of my manuscript is during the second draft. That's at what point I hate a lot of what I have written. But revisions help bring it all in line. I don't know if you could ever be that way, not reading anything you wrote until you start the second draft.

11-18-2013, 07:30 PM
Zach, i think you should be proud of yourself for the dedication you've exhibited through writing every day. i know you have a string of "0"s in your spreadsheet, but if i kept track of mine it would be nothing but a string of "0" and a blip of 1093 in the middle. so, be proud of yourself for that, it's not easy to accomplish.

next, my wife deletes everything if she doesn't like it...drive me nuts. i leave it. if i don't like it, so what? my thought is down, whether good or bad, and i can always go back and rewrite it, rework it, or delete it if i truly don't like it later on. but i typically go back and analyze my bad work and twist it and change it until it's what i want. you put a lot of work into the writing you don't like, don't minimize it by getting rid of it. use it as a tool to get where you want to be.

in my mind, reworking your writing is far better than starting over, even when reworking is mostly starting over in the end.

11-19-2013, 01:36 AM
Thank you all for the kind thoughts and encouragement!

Writing every day is, indeed, a big deal. And I do need to give myself more credit for that, even with the zeroes. Now, the real test will be whether or not I keep this up once I move, and go back to school, and my life gets busy again. (I like to think that I will :) )

I just spent last night wrestling with the desire to start over -- yet again! It's frustrating, but I compromised -- I'll go back and rework the first 18k -- and more -- later.

I really do need to find a way to knock out that inner editor. The problem is that he, occasionally, does bring up valid points. ;)

11-22-2013, 06:40 AM
Writing every day is an awesome idea.

It might also help if you set a relatively short goal. Like for example, have a quota of 200-400 words. (Set a specific number in that range, whatever works for you). That way, if you ARE on a roll, you'll obviously write a lot more, but if you aren't really feeling it then you can still just move forward a paragraph and not beat yourself up over not having done more.

In addition to taking pressure off of yourself, I think having easy/short quotas is a good idea for the story as a whole. I've found that when I feel a need to hit a certain high number of words, but am stuck on something, it just causes me to write pointless filler (like description, or focusing on something unnecessary) that I end up deleting later, just to hit a word count.

Just a few things to think about. I do think writing every day is a fantastic idea, and I've been planning to do it as well.

11-22-2013, 08:40 AM
Writing every day is a great idea as long as it doesn't go on for too long, as others have said. I tried it--did it for up to three hours a day, got between three and five thousand words in (not all quality, but I got my thoughts down)--and came with eye problems that I mentioned in another thread and which are not worth going into.

On the one hand, it worked. I got a novel done and it was accepted for publication. On the other hand, I almost went blind doing it. If I had to do it all over again, I'd do it differently. These days, I have to limit myself in how long I write which sort of sucks, but the alternative is something I don't want to contemplate.