If you've read my previous posts this week, then you're up to date with where I'm at in my journey toward publication--on January 1st I started writing my second contracted novel and then on January 5th I received my second rewrite on The Preacher's Bride.
I'm officially juggling writing AND editing.
Like most of you, I don't have large chunks of time I can devote to writing responsibilities. I work full time as a teacher and mother. My days are packed with grading math lessons, giving oral Latin quizzes, overseeing crazy science experiments, and all of the other unending duties that go along with teaching my children and managing a large household.
You may wonder, as I have a hundred times, why not set aside my novel and focus on the rewrites for a couple of weeks? With such little time, how can I possibly do justice to both?
But here's the thing. Even though I have a really good excuse for taking a break from my newest writing project--can't get a much better excuse than having to do a rewrite on another book--I don't want to start the habit of shoving aside my WIP (work-in-progress) for other things.
And here's the main reason why: There will ALWAYS be other things to distract us from writing, often very legitimate, important things. But if we start writing, we need to stay disciplined and keep writing.
I love what James Scott Bell says in his newest book The Art of War for Writers. "A foundation in discipline is always the first step toward victory." (p.18) He recommends setting a daily word count goal.
I suggest a daily word count too. My goal is 800 a day Mon.-Fri. and 1000 on Sat. for a weekly total of 5000. Maybe I'll have to adjust it a bit during these few weeks of working on rewrites, but I want to keep writing every day.
That daily word count sits on my shoulder and pokes me when I start daydreaming. It prods me when I'm tempted to get out of my chair. It whispers in my ear, "Write a little faster. You only have 30 minutes left to make your daily goal." It's a relentless taskmaster, but ever so helpful.
Bells says: "Write a minimum of 350 words a day. A baboon can do 350 words a day. Don't be shown up by a baboon." (p. 199) He also says: "If you're going to be obsessive about anything in the writing business, make it your word quota." (p. 21) He goes a step further and says we should keep a daily record of how much we're writing.
I fully realize NOT everyone agrees with the daily word count philosophy. In fact, I read two great posts recently that gave the opposite perspective.
Carrie at Heim Binas Fiction had a post "Breaking the Rules" and she said: Not everyone can or wants to write every day. Not everyone can write while traveling or home for the holidays, and it doesn't make you less of a writer. Just be sure that you aren't waiting for inspiration to strike before you sit down to work. Be sure that you're trying, more often than not.
K.M. Weiland at Wordplay wrote "Why Word Counts Can Be Destructive" and she said: Word counts were causing me more grief than productivity. . . I prefer to force myself to sit down at the computer for a set amount of time every day (two hours in my case) and let the scenes and characters dictate the word count.
Whether we adhere to a daily word counts or to a specific amount of writing time per day/week, I think we can all agree on the importance of self-discipline.
We'll always have other things clamoring to pull us from our WIP. Maybe next time it won't be rewrites. Maybe it will be the promotion of a newly released book, a book signing, an email newsletter, or a talk at the local writer's club.
You get my point. There will always be very worthwhile things to keep us from writing. (It goes without saying there are time-wasters that keep us from it too.)
But if we set WIP writing goals, and force ourselves to reach those goals in whatever way works for us, we'll eventually finish a book, or two, or three. . .
And we'll continue to take tiny steps forward toward victory.
What pulls you from your writing? And how do you keep yourself writing-- daily word count goals or something else?