On Writing Schedules

August 28, 2013 Writing musings 0

There’s a lot of advice swilling around on the internet for aspiring writers. I’n not sure whether I’d classify myself as aspiring (I just scribble stuff for fun, I don’t have aspirations), but I read any number of blog posts and even books on the subject. Writing fiction for dummies. The no-rules handbook for writers. The busy writer’s one hour plot. Your writing coach. Outlining your novel. Some of them even contain useful snippets of advice.

One of the most ubiquitous lines is: write every day. Or, even more specific: write x thousand words every day. Or: write even when you don’t feel like it. Well, blow that. I write when I get the chance, and when I have something to say. I share a study with my husband, so there are times when I can’t just rattle away on my laptop because it breaks his concentration. When I was vomiting up my endless backstory (1.2 million words of it), the urge to get it written down was huge, but the need to keep the noise down was also great. So I wrote a paragraph at a time. Tappity-tappity-tap, five minutes’ silence, tappity-tappity-tap. For months and (eventually) years.

For a long time I didn’t even count the number of words I’d written, never mind take note of how much I wrote each day. It wasn’t until I started on ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ (Work #2) that I even thought about it. When I switched to Scrivener, it became easy to keep a tab for wordcount records. Every time I wrote more than a few lines, I recorded the wordcount that day, and the overall wordcount. It took me 190 writing days, spread over a whole year, to write 220,000 words, an average of just over 1,000 words per writing day. Obviously, there were a lot of non-writing days, too. The most I ever wrote in a day was 7,386 words (when I had the whole day free and the words just flowed nicely).

For ‘The Fire Mages’ (Work #3), the average has been higher, 1,700 per day, but the most written in one day was under 5,000. There were several 4,000+ days, though. It works for me to write something more or less every day that I’m at home. I usually write in the evening, getting in a couple of hours of solid writing after everyone else has gone to bed and I can tappity-tap away without bothering anyone else and without interruptions. In the morning, I go over what I wrote the day before, smoothing and tinkering. But it never bothers me if I don’t write for a few days because I’m doing something more interesting. For me the only rule is: don’t take too much notice of rules.

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