“Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” ~Arnold H. Glasow
No matter how you measure it, writing has to be done on a regular basis. Like any other art, it has to be practiced. Yeah, you already know this. It wasn’t news to me either, but for one reason or another, my motivation has been lagging ever since I signed my first book deal.
The picture to your right is my bulletin board. I added the calendar on the bottom. If you look at it closely, you’ll see stars. I’ve decided that each day I write, I’ll mark the day with a color-coded star (beginning today). At the end of the month, they will all get tallied up and however much money I’ve earned will go into my little “writer” savings account. What do the stars mean?
Gold = 3,500 words or more $5.00
Silver = 3,000 words $2.50
Purple = 2,000 words $1.00
Green = 1,000 words $0
Red = <1,000 words $0
Dumb … yeah, sure. I should be self-motivated. I write full time, why is there this ridiculous need for an accountability chart? No clue. Maybe it’s the lack of a schedule. Maybe all those hours writing through lunch breaks and after work conditioned my creative brain like Pavlov’s dogs to a bell. Who knows. But, I’m not going to sit around and wait for inspiration. Oh, and editing won’t count toward stars … only new material. Revision might in the case of added scenes, but only in those instances. So, we’ll see how it goes.
Now, you didn’t think I’d just end this post here did you? No, this got me pondering about other writers and their habits—how they manage their time. I’ve often heard the, ‘thousand words a day’ thing tossed around. Here are some famous authors and their particulars:
Stephen King: In his book On Writing, he said that he writes 10 pages a day, even on holidays. If you average 350 words per page, that’s about 3500 a day.
Ernest Hemingway: He wrote 500 words a day, no more, no less. It’s also been said that he only wrote in the morning and never wrote drunk. One fact might beget the other.
Here is a GREAT post on writers and their rooms of choice, weapons of choice, and times of choice. Really, really, it’s a post worth reading so do yourself the favor and read it.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a quote from King himself on the act of writing: “You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair–the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.”