This is my guest blog from a few weeks back. Since I’m supposed to be writing right now and got distracted I thought I’d put it up for your viewing pleasure.
When Devin asked for other writers to contribute to her blog, I volunteered. I’m a writer, surely I have something to say about writing. She asked me to write about something I excel at and that’s when I stopped to think. What do I excel at? And what sort of credentials can I offer that might make a reader actually listen to what I have to say? I’m not yet published, though I will be, so I can’t say “look at my book, here is my legitimacy.” But what I do have are six completed full length novels in the last five years. So, I decided to talk about finishing.
A lot of people say “I’ll write a novel someday, when I have time.” I’m guessing most of those people never get that time. Something, life, family, work, a new puppy, something always gets in the way and that idea to write a novel keeps getting pushed back to someday. You can’t write a novel someday, you have to write it today, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, etc. You get the idea. Writing a novel is a lot of work, and if you never start, it’ll never get done. One day I started writing, and I had a lot of fun with it. I was very young. My favorite assignments in school were the ones where we had to write stories. In middle school I wrote a little, then in college I started writing, a little here, a little there and for five years didn’t get very far. Then one fateful day I discovered NaNoWriMo (google it) and in the month of November in 2005 I learned how to finish a novel. I sat down and wrote 2,000 words a day for a month and at the end I had a horrible manuscript that shall never again see the light of day, but I got it done. That MS by the way is not one I count in my 6 completed novels… it’s that bad. Since then finishing has gotten a little easier because I learned to set a daily word count goal and I learned that the rough drafts are allowed to be messy.
First I needed to establish the habit of writing every day to meet this daily word count goal. Going back to someday, that someday needs to be every day (I’ll get to taking a break in a moment). Find some time, either before work, after work, lunch break, whatever, even if it is only a half an hour, where you sit and you write. Make it the same time every day, make it a sacred time that nothing interrupts, except possibly a medical emergency, perhaps a tornado, you get the idea. Then make your daily word count goal. Mine is currently 500 words. That’s not a lot, but it’ll get a novel done. I have a friend who sets her goal at 200 words. A really good number is 2,000 words a day and is a goal a lot of full time writers use. There are days when 500 words is an epic struggle and there are days when 2,000 words breeze by and I don’t even realize it until I am out of writing time and have to go to work. But I write, every day. The Caveat to that… I treat writing like a job, and try to keep in mind, we get weekends from our day jobs, and vacations. I am allowed to have a weekend, or a vacation, or a day when I don’t get any writing done, however I it must be in the plan. For example, I don’t write often on Mondays or Tuesdays. Those days are my weekends from writing. Wednesday through Sunday I get my 500 words.