How to keep yourself writing

We write because we love it. Many of us write because we can't not write, because we have so many ideas floating around inside our heads that if we don't write them down we will explode. Okay, that was a slight exaggeration.
But for some of us it is difficult to keep on writing, especially when we have so many other commitments. Most of us have jobs, and when we aren't working many of us have children to look after, or work that needs to be done around the house. Some of us are still going to school or University. It is difficult to find the time to write amongst all our other commitments.
But don't fret. If you can write just one hundred words a day, you can write a novel. In fact, in two years you would have a seventy thousand word novel.
What's important is to keep your story moving. I have discovered one rule that keeps me writing, and keeps me feeling that my story is going somewhere. This rule is to write every day. It doesn't matter whether you write one sentence or a whole chapter. If you sit down and write something each day, your story will be at least a little closer to the end. If you are finding it difficult to push through a particular section, see if you can write one hundred words a day for a week. After the seventh day, you will have written seven hundred words in total. A hundred words a day may sound a bit lazy to some people, but if you hadn't done that--if you hadn't written anything at all in that week--that would be seven hundred words more you would have to write.
There is one other thing that helps me to keep writing, and this I have learned this from Garth Nix. On his website he said that each time he finished a chapter, he would write the date he finished it, the word count on that chapter and the total word count on the novel.
He says: "The word count is a relatively small thing, but it has an amazing psychological effect, particularly as more and more chapters appear and the word total grows. I find it very encouraging, particularly in the first third of the book, which always seems to take me half the time."
In the picture for this blog you will see my own adaptation of his technique. Every day I sit down and aim to write at least two hundred words a day. Every time I finish writing, I enter the date and the total word count on the novel. Then, whenever I look at my log I can see that, yes, my novel is actually getting somewhere. Now I say I aim for two hundred words. Sometimes I go under that, but more often I write three hundred words. When I am inspired, when I suddenly have a burst of ideas, I can write between four hundred and eight hundred words. Then there are the rare but valuable times when I write over a thousand words.
For those of you who can easily write a thousand words or a chapter in a sitting, you are incredibly fortunate, and if you have the time to do so, writing a thousand words a day would get your novel finished very quickly.
For me, though, I write rather slowly. So when I see the word count on my novel rising, it gives me hope that I will be able to finish it. For such a large project, it's important that I have that hope.
Even though I am a slow writer, looking at my log I can see that over the month of September I wrote approximately eight thousand words. Seeing that statistic boosts my faith in myself, that just maybe I might be able to reach my 70,000 to 100,000 word goal.
Garth Nix has written a great piece on how to get a novel written, and it can be found here.

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zellakate said...

Ryan, your blog is really helpful. :)

I needed this. I am one of the "busy with work/school/blogging" ones. I try to write on my breaks, but I lose momentum because I am not working on it constantly. I still write every day, but not on my WIPs. I shall have to try this. Thanks for all of the great suggestions! :)

Ryan Sullivan said...

Momentum is important. I had some excellent momentum during September, but then I lost it. In October I only wrote FIVE times. Then I only wrote five times again in November. When I lose momentum and my story stops flowing I feel really bad, like I have failed myself. But I believe now with holidays I can regain my momentum and feel good again.

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Welcome to The Dark Corner of the Mind. My name is Ryan Sullivan and my aim with this blog is to help others with their own writing, as well as to make note of some of my own writing endeavours.

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