Thursday, May 03, 2007

Seven Deadly Sins and Writing: Sloth

There are several things that a nascent writer hears over and over: write what you know; show don’t tell; and write every day. I think we can argue about the validity of the first two, but I’ve found that the last one actually stuck with me… even now, several published books later.

Stephen King in his book On Writing talks about how if you sit down at the same time every day, your Muse knows where to look for you. I think he’s right. The habit of writing, though often hard to establish, is worth the effort.

When I wrote my first novel (still unpublished) I set myself a goal, very arbitrarily, of 425 words a day. Some days, with a full time job, a family, and whatnot – it was hard to make that paragraph. Still, if I did it, I was that much closer to THE END. And, more often than not, if I started 425, I’d end up with 600 or 1,000.

Unlike some, I didn’t tell myself WHEN I needed to write those words each day, just that I needed to write them. For me, I found that if I could be flexible, I would find the time to write. I would write during lunch, during downtime on the job, after dinner, late at night, early in the morning, or scribble notes on a napkin while out somewhere. As long as I wrote 425 words at some point during the day, I considered myself meeting my goal.

I have always found – and continue to find – that the more I wrote, the easier it was to write the next day. If something interrupted me, say, like life, the next time I picked up the proverbial pen, it was a lot harder to start.

Even so, I have always taken the weekends off. This is a strange personal quirk of mine, but for me, treating writing like a job was what I needed to commit to the career. So, I take weekends off (except during crunch time.) But, what that means for me is that Monday writing is always the hardest.

If I take time off after having finished a big project (say, like a novel,) which I often do… starting up again is a pain. It’s like I’ve forgotten basic sentence structure. Or my writing muscles have atrophied. So, even after all this time, I try to write at least something on my fiction projects every day.

Do you?

1 comment:

Mel said...

I try to write every day. I seem to suffer a kind of writing exhaustion, though. I tend to marathon write-we're talking five, six, seven hours at a stretch. I will let the pen go until I can't move my hand. I will type until my wrists start shaking. My muse is a lazy, caffein addicted college student who writes her master's thesis at one AM the night before it's due. After a six hour stretch, however, I can't write for another day, week, month sometimes. Also, turning off my internal critic can be really hard. I hear *OMG, that sounds so FORCED* just about every other sentence while I'm writing. Funny how that never helps it sound any LESS forced.