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The Little Engine That Could

All of us — well, at least all of us who are committed to spending an unreasonable amount of our time trying to create fiction — know that the difference between writers and people who want to be writers is that writers write.  Which is not to say that we all write the same way.

One of the reasons I’ve always admired Nora Roberts is because I’ve heard her describe her working method several times over.  The woman writes, every morning.  All morning, and into the afternoon.  As she puts it, writing is her job.  This is probably why she turns out a minimum of 3 new titles a year — a single title, a J.D. Robb, and at least one volume of a trilogy or quartet or whatever.  Of course, I get the feeling that she writes even more than that, because her older books keep getting republished with new covers.

Even knowing that, and respecting her productivity and the discipline it takes, I’ve been dawdling along with two writing speeds:  full speed ahead (for things like NaNo and other short term efforts where I can put out about 2,000 words a day for a short period) and dead slow, when I write little or none.

So I have decided to get a grip on myself.  I’ve currently involved myself with a 100×100 challenge — 100 words (or more) each day for 100 consecutive days.  Miss a day, and you go back to the beginning.

I’ve discovered all kinds of wonderful benefits.  I’m on Day 19 now, and I find that if I have to write 100 words, which isn’t much after all — somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of a page? — it keeps me in my WIP.  Now I know if I were having to meet a publisher’s schedule, this would be a necessity, but being part of the great unpublished, I have to make my own schedule and meet my own deadlines.  Virtually every day I write more than 100, and I discover that my muse is responding very well to my determination that when I sit down at the laptop, I need to figure out at least half a page of something.  Occasionally I discover the next day that my half a page doesn’t work, and so I have to re-do it, but at least it kept me thinking.

I’m sure there are all sorts of little tricks we can use to keep our fingers where they belong — whizzing over the keyboard.  What do you use to keep yourself motivated when there’s no editor’s deadline?  Do you do better letting your creativity lie fallow for a while, or do you flourish most when writing regularly?  There’s all kinds of different strokes for different folks, I guess.

This writer is just chugging along.

5 Responses

  1. I’m on day seven of 100×100. It seems to be working for me. Although I’m thinking today is going to be hard!

  2. Oh, I love the idea of 100 words a day! I might be able to pull that one off. LOL Most of the time I write in spurts. I would love to sit down every day though and crank out some new pages.

  3. Whatever works! Yep, Cyndi, I see you plugging along. I’ve been able to get more than 100 in — sometimes a lot more — but last night, when the crit group was here at my house, without that commitment I would have just trundled off to bed.

    And I do find that being in my book every single day gets me thinking about it MORE when I’m not at the computer. So all it takes is whatever it takes to get the seat applied to the chair and the fingers applied to the keys — or however you express your imagination!

    Working on my 100 now . . .

  4. Beppie,
    That 100×100 challenge was the best thing I ever did for my writing. I did 5 of them straight in a row with no let up and no days off. You’re right-it doesn’t keep you in your story and you’re amazed by the progress you make by writing just 100 words a day. It definitely kept me honest when I had to report in every day or so with my progress. Remember it takes 28 days to form a habit. Congratulations on your Day 19!


  5. Wow, Linda! 5 straight? That’s almost two years! I’m impressed. I have to say I do appreciate what you say about it being a wonderful thing to do for your writing. It’s sure working for me!

    A tip of the hat from a novice to a champion in the field —

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