A page a day

You know how sometimes you have to learn certain lessons for yourself? No matter how many times the advice is given to you previously?

I’m spending less time on this blog the last few weeks because I’ve been using all my word count in my work in progress. It’s kinda like NaNoWriMo, only it takes me longer than a month. Since September 22nd, I’ve completed 50,000 words of a projected 90,000-word story, most of which has gotten done between last month and this. I truly hope to be finished with the first draft by the end of January.

My first novel took me something like six years to write. The second took another five. Both required help from graduate school structure, mentors, and critique partners.

While my second novel goes through the process of finding an agent for representation, I’ve started manuscript #3. But my writing process is totally different.

I used to have to “warm up,” so to speak, before I could write. I had to clear my email and check certain other sites and generally procrastinate before I felt ready to write. (I recall more than one game of spider solitaire being a part of this process.) Once I was warmed up, if I didn’t have at least two hours or more ahead of me, I got frustrated and blocked and couldn’t write. I used to think if I didn’t complete a major chunk (a chapter or two) in a writing session that it wasn’t even worth my time to sit down and write.

Not so anymore. I wake up early every weekday morning and most weekends with the goal of getting a page done, even if it is a page of total crap that needs to be rewritten the next day. For the first month or two, a page is all I accomplished, and it seemed like such a paltry thing, but it was enough. Lately I rarely leave the computer without at least 1,000 words complete, and usually much more.

I think by forcing myself to get out a page, I forced myself to plot. My difficulty writing had always been that I just didn’t know what should come next. When I forced myself to write a little something every day, I forced something to come next. And that lead to another next and another next and another next.

During my time at SHU I was told that if I wrote a page a day for 365 days, I’d have a novel. (I’m sure this advice should be attributed to someone specific, but I remember it as advice that was simply passed around.) A year sounded like such a short time compared to the five or six it took to do each of my first two manuscripts. Finally following that advice has led to me getting a manuscript done (well, not yet, but I’m on track and confident) in six months.

My advice? Get your butt in the chair and dive “write” in! A page a day is all it takes!

2 Responses to “A page a day”

  1. It really is great advice. If I could get idea that truly excited me, and if I could turn off the analytical portion of my brain, I could benefit a lot from this particular process.

    Do you still check LJ, btw? I’ve been updating my personal account randomly, and I’ve recently started talking about writing.

    And btw: congrats on getting so much done on your third manuscript!

  2. Jen says:

    I’m going to email you separately . . .

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What I like in a good author isn’t what he says, but what he whispers.

— Logan P. Smith