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Writers Write

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Writing is perhaps the only profession out there where so many people who claim to do a thing, really only think about starting… sometime soon… when they get around to it… eventually. It is easy to abuse the label, after all anyone can do it, right? A quick walk down the aisles of your local (and endangered) book chain store will show you that there are great many people in this world that cannot write well but are nonetheless getting paid for it.

Talking about it just isn’t good enough. Writers write – this adage, stolen from a friend’s father, is the best and simplest way to put it. At the end of the day, they either do or they don’t. I don’t think it’s much more complicated than that.

but what if you are having trouble getting started? Well, I have a few words on that too.

There is a whole industry around helping people to write. There a blogs that convince you to write more often, books on how to make you write better, motivational speakers and life coaches that want to help you get published, and small press companies that will be perfectly happy to print anything you like for a nominal fee. The only products out there that are comparable for volume are Viagra or the weight loss industry.

So why am I throwing my hat in this ring?

As long time readers know, I created some very ambitious New Year’s resolutions for 2013. To date I am doing a pretty good job at sticking to them, though I am a bit behind in my daily word count if I want to write 200,000 words during 2013 (that’s 550 words a day or so.) To that end, I have been trying to write more, and part of that struggle is the self-motivation/prioritization that we all deal with. To that end, I have three things that have really been helping me to work on prose lately.

  1. Do it every day – For me, habits are king. Before I took two weeks off to California, I was in a groove, putting down a few hundred words every day on a variety of topics. It was pain-free and the words flowed easily. After I got back though, the month of January was pretty rough; I struggled just to get all my blog posts up on time. You don’t need to dedicate a lot of time to writing, and if you miss a day you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it, but if it’s a priority than you should make time for it.
  2. Read bad fiction – Reading the words of great authors, especially your own personal writing heroes will certainly make you want to write, but by paragraph two you will realize that you aren’t meeting up to that impossible standard. Again. It can be very discouraging. Fortunately you don’t need to be better than the best writer out there, at least not right now. My favorite way to inoculate myself against this particular demon is to go out and read bad fiction. Nothing makes me crank out words like reading a chapter or two of truly awful prose.
  3. Don’t edit – This is not to say you should not edit eventually, because you certainly should. What I am saying here, is do not edit while you are writing a first draft, for that way lies madness. The difference between writing a thousand words in a day in writing a hundred is trying to get that second sentence just right. You will probably rewrite it anyway when you go through and do a polish pass in a few months. For now, just worry about getting your ideas down on paper, trust me.

This isn’t a topic I plan on chiming in on, on a regular basis or anything, but a several of the blogs I read have been talking about writer’s block and other difficulties, and it just seems somehow appropriate. What tricks do you use to plow ahead on your page count? As always, I would much rather this be a discussion than a rant, and as I am still about a week behind on my page count, I can use all the help I can get.

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This entry was posted by David Winchester.

4 thoughts on “Writers Write

  1. Amen. Well said. I recall a line from an Irvine Welsh novel, where a guy is confused because his girlfriend tells him that her friends are authors, but he never sees them writing. He only sees them hanging out in cafes.

    • There is a wonderfully sardonic scene in Amelie with a similar message. Getting discouraged is easy, but talking about practice isn’t the same thing as practice.

      Thank you for chiming in.

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