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  1. #1

    Question How do you write every day?

    I'm curious if you used any tricks to hack motivation before you managed to 'just sit down and write', it's for my post on how to write an ebook.

    So far I've heard modifications of Seinfeld's productivity trick he used for writing jokes, where every day that you complete your writing task, you get to put a big red X over that day on your calendar. The red X is sometimes replaced with golden star or even word count for that day. The problem with that is continuing to add to the chain once a new month starts, as it feels as you're starting all over every month.

    Little hacks like "stop writing mid-sentence", set a specific time to write and turn off Internet (some went as specific as "make sure you can't get access to porn").

    I'm asking this as an advice to someone who is not a writer and is likely not looking to become a writer in the long-term, but is interested in producing a single piece nonetheless.

    Finally, is writing every day a goal for you or not?
    Last edited by N. E. White; July 30th, 2014 at 11:51 AM. Reason: promotional link

  2. #2
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Hello SLR436 and welcome to the forum!

    FYI - I edited out your link. While we don't mind folks linking to their stuff, we really don't like drive-by linking (where a poster comes once - and only once - to post a promotional link). Since this is your first post, I removed the link. I hope you understand.

    Quote Originally Posted by SLR436 View Post
    Finally, is writing every day a goal for you or not?
    Yes, very much so. Not always achieved, but it is a goal. However, I don't obsess too much over it, either.

  3. #3
    Registered User Deepwater's Avatar
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    I find it's helpful to take a deliberate break every (say) two hours, even if I haven't done anything but stare numbly at the page.
    I tend to feel guilty if I take a break when I haven't gotten "enough" writing done yet. The problem is that then I'm only writing for the sake of finishing some arbitrary word count, so I can take that break and go play a video game or whatever. I think that's kind of poisonous. Better to disconnect the breaks from the amount I've accomplished and let the reward for writing be the sense of satisfaction it produces.
    Of course, I don't force myself to take the breaks if I've built up some momentum and I've got a good flow going. I save them for the next time I'm stalled out.

  4. #4
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    I'm trying to write every day. It's hard with a baby at home, trying to develop a new career (in writing, so it's somewhat germane, but it's not fiction), and balancing my loathsome day job. I set no specific daily goals, because it's unlikely I can meet them right now past "write something every day," but most days during the work week I take the reverse commute train back a few stops so I can get a seat on the way home and use that hour or so to get in some writing on one of my stories.

    I've found Scrivener's "compose" mode very helpful for getting into a relatively distraction-free zone while I'm writing. Going to where there is no internet helps a lot, too.

  5. #5
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    For me, writing everyday can often become forced, tangled, or even incoherent. So what I try to do is just sit down and do something small. Pick out a tree and try to write a clear description. Write down a memory. Describe the color of someone's eyes. Just something small and relatively simple that gets me writing and thinking but is short and small so that it is easy to review and work on. It might not have anything to do with my book, but it is good writing practice for someone who realized recently that his expansive vocabulary and elegant syntax has dilapidated into a farce. Sometimes it does spark an idea relating to my book and then I go write that.

  6. #6
    I spent years not writing any of my ideas down and then complaining about the fact. Last year I decided to set myself a simple challenge. For one month my goal was to simply write 100 words a day, 5 days a week. I often wrote more, but that was my minimum. I didn't pick the days - I could write 5 different pieces on one day, or two on the weekend and three on working days. They didn't have to be part of anything - I often grabbed prompts or inspirational words from the internet and just played with something simple. Some days I liked what I'd written, some days I didn't, but I kept them in a folder of fragments and ideas should I ever want to revisit them. I occasionally picked up a piece the next day, but most of the time they were independent fragments of stories I might one day tell.

    The goal was to simply break the hold of the censor in your head that tells you something is no good, that an idea isn't worth pursuing, that you'll never finish it. None of that matters. The purpose is to exercise the writing muscle, like warm-up exercises. Whenever I'm stuck with something I can now say "but I wrote 20,000 words last year, that month, I can do this.

    I still have problems with plotting and structure and finishing things, but I *do* get things down now, and when I look back through the scrapbook I find there are phrases, sentences, structures that I'm pleased with, and that motivates me too.

    So my advice, even if you're working on a bigger project, is to find a word or a prompt or something, and just write anything that comes in to your head, and stop when it runs out, and then put that somewhere safe to come back to. Then get on with the project at hand.

  7. #7
    Registered User Jaigon's Avatar
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    I think the key is to set some flexibility. Start low and work your way up. Kind of like going to the gym:
    When you start out you tend to overexercise and feel dead, then you may give up because you don't like feeling dead. Instead, if you start light, you will only feel a little sore and will still have motivation to keep excercising. If you start out with too ambitious of a goal you may not meet your quota and give up.

    I'm kind of a newby at writing myself, I just got back into it about a month ago. My goal is to write at least one weekend day, and at least two week days. The weekend day is by far the most productive. I pick a coffee shop, and sit there and write without distraction for the afternoon. So far I've been writing about 4,000 words per week with the scheme.

  8. #8
    Edited for submission Holbrook's Avatar
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    I don't write everyday. I just write when I can.

  9. #9
    Man of Ways and Means kennychaffin's Avatar
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    Just Do It!

    Most of the good ideas have been posted above.

    Natalie Goldberg - Writing Exercises.
    Steven King - 2000 words a day no matter what.

    On thing I didn't see mentioned, it to try and have a schedule - sit down at your desk, computer, journal the same time every day. Follow your ritual, meditate, pray, invoke the writing muse, and open a vein. Habit is quite powerful.
    Last edited by kennychaffin; August 26th, 2014 at 08:21 PM.

  10. #10
    I write only when inspired and, given my hectic schedule, that's a fairly infrequent occurrence. I tend to go through periods of mania, writing up to 70,000 words a month and then going dormant for sometimes months on end.

    I last wrote for my book series in January, but I am climbing back into the saddle soon. The first thing I do is read the preceding 4-5 chapters and then look at the treatment I wrote to get myself back into the mindset I was in when I stopped.

    I think that if I were to write everyday, I might get too used to writing when uninspired, hence putting out something less than my best. Everyone is different, though.

  11. #11
    We Read for Light Window Bar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SLR436 View Post
    some went as specific as "make sure you can't get access to porn").
    And I've aheard the exact opposite. Tom Robbins, the author of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues & several other best-selling novels mentioned in an interview that he had a ritual he'd go through before starting to write. There were the usual bits: a good night's sleep, exercise, etc.; then he added that he "always read some porn," because he likes to "write with a hard-on."

    (BTW, the final bit would seem a tad difficult. I prefer a computer, but will use a pen if pressed.)

    --WB

  12. #12
    I don't write everyday. It feels like a day job if I think, oh I need to write something today. And since I do have a day job, I'm too tired to type a group of words after I get off. It crosses my mind when I'm in the middle of a story. But I take breaks, long breaks and then when I'm ready, I get back into it.

    One thing that keeps me motivated is making the story interesting to me, trying to write my way up to a exciting point in the story I can't wait to explore or a big reveal, and I imagine a group of readers seeing and getting blown away by it. That kind of stuff makes me happy inside and that's when I do it.

    Or I just imagine that my story already has a fan base, waiting for the next chapter. So imagine what it would be like for them if I'm just sitting around not writing the next chapter. That too keeps me going. I don't have a fanbase in real life because I haven't published anything yet, even if I did, it would depend on how good the book is too. But the dream of having it and pretending that I do, keeps me going.

    Sounds crazy, but it works for me, so far I've completed six novels, and three short stories by doing that.
    Real World, Real Fiction

  13. #13
    www.Ritualofthestones.com
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    I try to write 5 days a week - weekdays only. I usually aim to hit 1,000 words and usually do but I don't beat myself up if a don't suceed. I tend to be most productive in the mornings and so aim to get to work excessively early and knock out my word count just before I start my day.

  14. #14
    Registered User Threak 17's Avatar
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    I usually write 5 days a week, 1,500-2,000 words a day when I'm doing a first draft. I try not to edit heavily as I go along, --just get it out. When I'm done -- and I go into editor mode, the word counts I'm producing aren't nearly the same, but I'm still working, -- even if it doesn't look like it. That's were I used to tend to bog down and get lazy. To keep my motivation at a high level, I started a blog, -- still getting words out and holding myself accountable for what I do, or fail to do. So far, so good.

  15. #15
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    I try to do at least 1,000 words a day, but this year has been too exhausting so far! Should be getting back to it this winter.

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