Any Way But Lightly

“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.

So, a decision was made today and I figured hell, why not share it with you guys?

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.”

11 responses

  1. Herman Wouk said that if you can write one page every day it will all add up to a book. That’s how I write: one page at a time. Then there’s Poppy Z. Brite who makes the effort to write at least 3 pages every day, and Dean Koontz who writes one page and edits it endlessly until he is happy with it (unless he is in the zone, in which case that is the final copy).

    Every writer is different. We all have our quirks. My wife writes her stuff out long-hand, and if she is working on her fantasy, she writes “in character”, dressed up, and with proper music. I don’t go near her those days.

    • In character huh? I’m going to have to try that one out for size. Anyone got a spare Morior costume hanging around?

    • Oh, I SO believe in this! I don’t change clothes, but I do get in front of a mirror and recite lines of dialog, because I have to SEE what the face and the body are doing–not necessarily because I want to describe it (my characters–the pretty ones, especially–don’t look much like me) but because it just helps to see things from the outside as well as feel them from the inside, and because dialog doesn’t take place in a vacuum. But not just dialog, I read everything out loud. And write everything longhand, too. The imagination (mine, I mean) works better when the body gets to come along for the ride, and I love the slide of ink across paper. Always will.

  2. Bree, I so love the idea of seeing you write dressed as a Morior! What a great way to get your day to yourself.
    I find I have no say in how much I write per day. When I begin writing, I just can’t stop. As long as the ideas are flowing, I have to write. Simple as that. Same with editing really, I get so engrossed into the tale and the cadence of the words, that I have to carry on until something external stops me. Usually it’s either the dogs wanting a walk or their food, or my husband pulling the plug on my laptop!
    And like Jonathan’s wife, I too love to write to ‘proper’ music. I have a whole load of cds that I used while writing my Artesans series.

    • I always love writing with “proper” music. Music is one of my loves. It evokes things in me and magnifies what I’m feeling at the time. Music + writing = wonderfulness. Good luck, Cas! And Breanne, I think I want to see a picture of you in Morior dress.

  3. I usually feel like Richard Bach describes it – as if an idea won’t leave me alone until I get it written down. Typically this happens at 3:00 a.m., though. In an hour or two, I typically write about 1000 words that need very little editing (spell-check!) using the computer. Then I can go back to bed or move on with my day, as the prompting takes me.
    Thanks, again, for an inspiring message. Exactly what I needed during a time when I have some “extra time” on my hands.

  4. I am so right there with you in the lack of motivation department. I know what it has to do with–I’m missing my husband a great deal right now. But you’re right–and King is right too–come at it any way but lightly. I hope your system works. If anything, I should kick my own ass into gear and put a system down that will work for me. Erg! I hate the giant hiccups that interrupt my life.

    • I know the feeling (my kids aren’t real kids though … they’re furry).

      I don’t know what did it, but … I’ve written more in the past four days than I’ve written in YEARS. It’s seriously unreal. It can’t be the star thing, because I *feel* different somehow. I haven’t been on FB as much because of some editing stuff that I had to take care of, but that doesn’t really strike me as being it either.

      I did download some stress reduction stuff, stuff to listen to as you go to sleep. Andrew Johnson? I think is the guy’s name? Anyway, if that’s what’s done it, then I can’t recommend him enough. Who knows, lol. But, something has lit a fire beneath my rear end.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: