Habitual March: Day 8

[The Habitual March]

After a somewhat unsurprisingly unsuccessful Habitual January, I have a new angle for March. I may not be able to start until next week, but it's something. Firstly, I'd like to link you to Timothy Hallinan, who has written the most useful piece on consistency, all with the intention of helping you finish your novel.

This is where I got my inspiration for this new angle.

Now, I know I can write 300 words a day. I proved that earlier this month. What I lacked was the discipline to find the time every night.

Hallinan quotes Raymond Chandler as saying: "The important thing is that there should be a space of time, say four hours a day at the least, when a professional writer doesn’t do anything but write. He doesn’t have to write, and if he doesn’t feel like it, he shouldn’t try. . . . But he is not to do any other thing, not read, write letters, glance at magazines . . . . Two very simple rules, a: you don’t have to write. b: you can’t do anything else. The rest comes of itself."

Now, I would just like to quickly quote Hallinan. One of his reasons for writing every day is that "the more time you spend with your story, the more real its world will be to you. If you spend three days away, it will be three times as difficult to get going again. If you spend a month away, you're practically going to have to start over. You want the momentum and the familiarity with the world of your book that only comes when you enter that world regularly."

So this is the challenge I'm setting myself.

From 5:00pm until 6:00pm, I must have a word document open. I can't do anything other than write. That means no internet, except for Write or Die (I'll be buying that program as soon as possible). Now, I don't have to write anything in that time-frame, but I'm not allowed to do anything else. No reading, no internet, no chatting, no making chai lattes or coffees or getting snacks. Although, I will allow myself to prepare those things before the session begins. But at 5:00:01, I'm in the chair and hopefully about to start planning a WorD Splurge.

If I pass 300 words, then great! I can stop. But I generally write more by the time the half-hour of my Splurge is up -- and you never know when you'll clunk out that 450! And when you're writing more than 300 words each day, it adds up very quickly, and after a few days you've got yourself more than 1,000 words, and was it really that hard? Not if you can keep to your schedule.

But I've been over this! Schedules always get ruined by Real Life! So it has to be adaptable. If there's something ON at 5:00, I'll have to move my schedule for that day to perhaps 8:00 - 9:00.

And the all-important lesson I learnt the hard way: If you miss a day, don't you dare think you have to make up for it the next day along with that day's words. No. Continue as if you hadn't missed the day before. Write your 300 words for today. And the next day, write for that day. Your conscience will be thankful. There's nothing more self-destructive than thinking you have to write more to make up for something. It forces an illusion of failure on you.

Keep it manageable, and keep it consistent.

If you've been having troubles finishing your novel, or need help finishing any novel or short story, or you just want to be more productive, I highly recommend you read more of Timothy Hallinan's website and see what you can do for yourself.

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Shannon said...

Yeah, if you keep trying to play catch-up you'll end up with 3,000 words worth of back log and that can just be discouraging!

Ryan Sullivan said...

Exactly, and that has actually stopped me from writing in the past. So I'm trying to learn from those lessons. :)

mooderino said...

Thanks for the link to Hallinan's site. I need all the help I can get.

Tin Cup said...

Came across your blog via Critique Circe. Very nice work! I will be following. I am also working on a novel and trying to get in 600 words a day. It's tough! I've been blogging about it( and other random things) and find that helps keep me writing. Feel free to check out my blog:


Good luck and keep at it!

Ryan Sullivan said...

Thanks for joining, Tin! Glad to have you along.
Due to outside circumstances, I wasn't able to write this weekend (no computers + bush bashing = one unhappy writer), but I intend to get right back on it starting tonight, and then into the rest of the month.

...and beyond.

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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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