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In 2011, I plan to get a lot more writerly-type writing done. To that end, I’ve decided to have a go at something which, up until now, I’ve never tried before, and I’m not talking about Hirsute Harry’s Patented Hair Replacement Tonic.
 
This year, I’m going to write every day. In the past, I’ve always felt that, while I can see how others find it helpful, I’d learned to trust my muse to yell in my ear when she had something worth setting down on paper, and though that might mean I sometimes went weeks (or even months) without writing any new fiction, I preferred that approach to just churning out words for the sake of it.
 
“Why the change of heart, Jon?” I hear you ask. Well, I’ll tell you. Aside from blogging, I did a whole lot of writing last year, but don’t have a new novel to show for it.
 
I did a ton of revision work on Fur-Face before it was released last June. I spent loads of time reading critique notes (then re-reading and re-writing) Waking up Jack Thunder, which I still haven’t got agent ready. I wrote a few drabbles, tried my hand at a couple of short stories (didn’t finish those), polished up the outline and wrote a tentative first chapter of Barnum’s Revenge. I wrote pages and pages of character notes and plot ideas for Dead Doris, and generally did all manner of writing, without actually achieving much in the way of new fiction.
 
I’ve started small. Since January 1st, I’ve set myself a minimum of 50 new words a day on Dead Doris. If I write more, great, but the counter resets to zero every morning, so whether I wrote 50 words the previous day, or 5,000, I still have to come up with some more. I’ll still work on research notes, outlines, even other fiction, but none of it counts towards my daily obligation.
 
My goal is to finish the first draft of Dead Doris by the end of March, after which I’ll turn my attention to the sequel to Fur-Face, Barnum’s Revenge, and maybe even have a bash at a my Stonehenge/time travel novel, A Circle of Stones.
 
So far, I’m ten for ten and over two thousand words into Dead Doris. I need to pick up the pace a bit if I want to get things done, but so far as ‘Write every day’ is concerned, color me converted. 
 
How about you?
 
What’s your take on ‘Write every day’? 

What's your take on 'Write every day'?

Welcome to the club, I've been doing that for years.
14(30.4%)
It sounds like a good idea, but I've never actually tried it.
7(15.2%)
I've tried that before, but it doesn't work for me. I write better when I let my muse tell me when to write.
5(10.9%)
Something else, which I'll explain in the comments.
20(43.5%)
  



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black_faery
Jan. 10th, 2011 04:59 pm (UTC)
I did it for MiniNaNoWriMo last year, where I set myself the challenge of 150 words per day for November. I managed it for 26 of the 30 days, and usually hit over target. It meant that every day I was thinking about the current WIP, and that meant that my muse pitched up more frequently. Works for me, but only if the target is small enough to not make it impossible on the 'Oh god I lost all my muses' days! Good luck!
jongibbs
Jan. 10th, 2011 05:20 pm (UTC)
I know what you mean about small targets, Ros. That's why I chose something as pitifully small as 50 words a day. I figure there's no excuse for not hitting that amount - though if I fail, I'm sure I'll come up with something ;)
ladysaotome
Jan. 10th, 2011 05:04 pm (UTC)
I've never done it but it's a commitment I want to go for at some point. Though I think when I try, I'll make a short goal first - like 50 words a day for a month and then increase that goal as I reach it?

Congrats, though! 10 for 10!
jongibbs
Jan. 10th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
Little bite-size goals work for me. If I set them too big, I find it too easy to excuse the failure later.
silverwerecat
Jan. 10th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
See icon. :p

I answered with the #1 choice, but in truth I just *try* to write every day. For years. It doesn't always happen.

Oh, wait. Do grocery list count? ;)
jongibbs
Jan. 10th, 2011 05:31 pm (UTC)
They do if they're part of a story :)
heleninwales
Jan. 10th, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC)
I don't write just for the sake of it when I'm between projects, even though as a creative writing tutor I do suggest that people try daily journal pages to generate ideas. :)

But I have found that the only way to make serious progress with a project is to write every day -- or at least make that the target and aim to miss as few days as possible.

Right now I'm trying to get a novel going again. I'm still reading through the draft I wrote in 2009, but once I get to the end of that, I'll be aiming for 400-750 words a day.
jongibbs
Jan. 10th, 2011 05:33 pm (UTC)
I've heard so many succesful writers recommend it, most recently, Steve Cannell on last week's Friday links list. I figured it was about time I gave it a bash.
Geoffrey Young Haney
Jan. 10th, 2011 05:14 pm (UTC)
I also started the "write every day" thing this year. I haven't written every day and I don't have a daily word count to achieve. I simply need to write SOMETHING any time I can. Of course I have nights set aside in my weekly schedule to do the 4-hours-of-power writing, but I thought it would still be great to spend even 15 minutes a day writing. So far its going well. I have currently four projects I'm working on. Like you, Jon, I like the idea of the muse, the inspiration. It's sort of why we do this, right? But for me, I need a higher volume of finished work, and by working on a number of different style projects at once, I can bounce towards one if on any particular day I'm not quite feeling the others. I think this keeps all of them fun and fresh, and hopefully keeps my voice fun and fresh and suitable to each project. If I look at the same manuscript too long, I feel, it grows stale. Writing every day has helped me get excited about my projects again.

Good luck with the new system Jon!
jongibbs
Jan. 10th, 2011 05:34 pm (UTC)
And to you, Geoff :)
lysythe
Jan. 10th, 2011 05:14 pm (UTC)
I tried it once, but between real life demands and setting myself a goal too high (500 words), I basically forgot for about a month until it occurred to me, 'hey, wasn't I supposed to be doing this?'

I think after July when my time's freed up more, I'll do it again. (With a smaller goal, of course. Maybe 50-100.)
jongibbs
Jan. 10th, 2011 05:30 pm (UTC)
I don't know about you but I'm fantastic at making up good excuses. That's why, for something like this, I need a small goal (like 50-100 words). Something so doable, even I'd have a hard time explaining how I missed it :)
a_r_williams
Jan. 10th, 2011 05:38 pm (UTC)
I think it's a good thing. Two sayings that can illustrate the point:

1. (modified) If you write it, the muse will come.

Waiting for inspiration is a lie, a myth, and/or laziness. If you start to write, eventually the process itself will create the muse. Not often, but definitely more than by sitting and waiting for it.

2. An object in motion, stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest.

If you don't write, you will find you can go days, weeks, or months without ever writing. It then becomes a struggle just to start. Procrastination and not doing it become the norm. It becomes easy just to talk about writing and have that be enough.

On the other hand...when you write day after day after day. That becomes your new habit. It feels odd when you don't write. Your mind is always itching to sit down at the keyboard and record new words. The muse strikes often, or at least more frequently, increasing the desire to write. At the end of the week you have a lot of pages (which makes you want to write even more).

It's your choice which method you want to use. I know which one I like ;)
msstacy13
Jan. 10th, 2011 06:56 pm (UTC)
Valid points, at the very least.
(no subject) - a_r_williams - Jan. 11th, 2011 05:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jan. 11th, 2011 01:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - a_r_williams - Jan. 11th, 2011 05:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dferguson - Jan. 11th, 2011 04:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - Jan. 11th, 2011 12:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - a_r_williams - Jan. 11th, 2011 05:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
jongibbs
Jan. 11th, 2011 01:50 am (UTC)
Usually with daily goals I give myself weekends off, so I can catch up if needed, but this is such a teeny tiny wordcount, I'm not going to.
beth_bernobich
Jan. 10th, 2011 05:52 pm (UTC)
I think we all need to find the pattern that works best for ourselves. For some, it's write every day. For others, it's write on the weekends, or at night, or whatever. Currently I'm writing during the week, with some writing on the weekends, but only when I'm caught up on house and family activities.

The key, I think, is to establish a regular schedule.
jongibbs
Jan. 11th, 2011 01:51 am (UTC)
Find out what works best for you, then do that, a lot. SOunds like an excellent plan :)
blood_of_winter
Jan. 10th, 2011 06:02 pm (UTC)
Over the years Ive made (and remade) the goal of writing every day and then, usually that peters out so I may write most days or I may write none for the week, depending on how my bipolar affected me - which I usually attributed to "the muse's" whims and fancies - what an easy way out for me!

I think too, in the past I set my standards too high. Saying, I will write 1,000 or 500 words a day set me up for failure. That's a lot to live up to especially with a FT job and family. But since I've started to say, I will write today - whether 50 words or 1,000 words, it doesnt matter but I will write something - then the pressure is off. Creatively, Im free from focusing on the quantity so I can focus on the story instead.

I've found, as others mentioned, that writing brought "the muse" or inspiration to visit and I've been more productive, not only because my cumulative word count has gone up from steady writing sessions but also, the sessions themselves have become more productive.

So Im with you this year. 50 words a day is great because it's low enough not to pressure you but enough so if that's all you write for a week you will still have 350 words but more importantly, you're building up that habit of writing each day which is more important than numbers in some ways. And if you do more, you feel that much more accomplished!

/ramble
jongibbs
Jan. 11th, 2011 02:04 am (UTC)
I figured I have to try something different, otherwise I run the risk of working hard all year, but having nothing new to show for it - like 2010 :)
knittingknots
Jan. 10th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
I write something most every day. I've been doing this for about two years. A lot of it is in flashfic/vignette or poetry; if I go too many days without doing this, I get irritable, hard to be around and downright unpleasant. I'm now trying to learn to apply this compulsion to longer works.

jongibbs
Jan. 11th, 2011 02:05 am (UTC)
...if I go too many days without doing this, I get irritable, hard to be around and downright unpleasant.

You know, those symptoms sound hauntingly familiar. I wonder if my old gran was a writer who'd slipped out of the habit ;)
rowyn
Jan. 10th, 2011 06:41 pm (UTC)
Inspiration doesn't strike often enough, so I usually have to bull through the I-don'-wanna phase and write anyway. But "every day" is rather too aggressive for my tastes, so I'm more like "most every day".


I also have better luck with time goals ("focus on writing for 15 minutes on most days") than # of words. Focusing on word count makes me even more long-winded, and it undervalues editing and planning. All areas I'm weak on anyway, so I have to avoid reinforcing them. :)
jongibbs
Jan. 11th, 2011 02:06 am (UTC)
I'm with you on the qality over quantity thing. It's another reason why I set the bar so low.
msstacy13
Jan. 10th, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC)
When I'm actually working on something,
I usually do write every day until I've completed it.
But simply writing something every day
for the sake of writing something every day?
No, I don't do that.
jongibbs
Jan. 11th, 2011 02:08 am (UTC)
I've got so many shiny writing projects I want to work on, I've ended up doing none of them. Hopefully this will help.
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Jan. 11th, 2011 03:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
kmarkhoover
Jan. 10th, 2011 07:46 pm (UTC)
Write when you need to. If that is everyday, fine.

I don't personally hold with "write everyday" but I've been in this profession long enough to know there are many roads to the same destination. Whatever works for you, keep doing that.
jongibbs
Jan. 11th, 2011 02:09 am (UTC)
Up until a couple of weeks ago, I'd have said the same, but what used to work for me seems to have stopped working, so I figured I'd best try somthing new.
nathreee
Jan. 10th, 2011 08:12 pm (UTC)
I think what "write every day" means is: write often, about lots of different things, and think a lot about writing. The best advice is imho never taken literally. Of course you have a life, of course you can take a day off or go on holiday. But in order to become a better writer, you need to write a lot, and develop some kind of discipline.
jongibbs
Jan. 11th, 2011 02:11 am (UTC)
I'm looking to re-develop that 'writing new stuff' discipline. I guess time will tell, but so far so god :)
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