1000 A Day Habit…

To be a writer, you have to write… this was a conclusion I came to a few years ago, which still holds true. To borrow some advice from one more qualified to talk about successful writing than I…

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This then is the crux of the matter. You can say you want to be a writer, dream of being a writer, you can even have the word ‘Writer‘ written in your passport, but unless you actually do some writing…

The problem, as often as not, is there are some many other things to do rather than write, which is a somewhat solitary activity you undertake in your writing cave. There are movies to watch, series to absorb on Netflix, books to read (because if you don’t read a lot you will never be a writer), a social life to have, work of the paying kind to do, social media, video games, sports team to watch, walking in the sunshine, life in general. There is a lot to do and only so many hours in the day. How then do you find time to write?How indeed… Well you make time is the simple answer, you apportion a part of your day to writing.

Put aside the Xbox controller, the TV remote, turn off Facebook, twitter, and those hilarious YouTube videos of cats. Set a time to write and do it, whether it’s a couple of hours on an evening or you get up two hours earlier on a morning or use your lunch hour at work. When is not really important, it’s doing it that matters. It doesn’t even matter how much you write in your cave time, not really, though I have found it wise to set some form of target for myself. To borrow from Mr. King once more…

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Which is, as ever, wise advice from Mr King… though what you actually have is a first draft and an appointment with the editing demons. But it is a point well made.

I set myself a target a few years ago of writing 1000 words a day. This was way back before my first novel ‘Cider Lane‘ when I was still struggling with what would eventually become my second ‘Passing Place‘. I say struggling, it would be more accurate to say avoiding. I would write when the mood took me, if no other distraction was on offer, all the while following every other bit of advice I had ever read about becoming a writer. I kept notebooks on me all the time, another at the side of my bed. I would analyse every movie I watched to figure out what the script-writer was doing behind the actors. I would note down anything that seems like a good line, or an interesting turn of phrase, or an idea that crossed my consciousness. I read everything I could, as vociferously as I ever had. All of which are good habits to have as a budding writer, but what I didn’t do, importantly, was actually write. Pen did not touch paper, keyboard did not rattle with keystrokes. Every now and again I would have a couple of hours of trying to put a few words down, but that gets you nowhere if it’s just every now and again.

So I decided to set myself a target, a 1000 words a day, every day, rain or shine. Turn off the TV, shut down Facebook, shut out the world, write, and… It worked…

Not straight away, it took time to force myself into a routine. Time to find that space in the day to write, and time to find my stride. But I wrote, one word after another, and kept doing so. I wrote short silly tales, erotic scenes, long marauding jokes, worked on ‘Passing Place‘ which was still very much in its infancy, blog posts on my old blog. Anything really. I just wrote. My hard drive if full of snippets here and there of those 1000 a day snippets. Stories that start nowhere, go nowhere and say nothing much, but one day I might stumble over and make something of. Several chapters in ‘Passing Place‘ started out that way once I finally got into the novel properly a couple of years later. The important thing at the time was not what I wrote, but that I wrote. A 1000 words a day, every day, which usually became more, but it was never less, even if what I was writing was utter tosh because usually after a while it became good. Like an athlete training his body to compete, a writer needs to train his mind to write. So I kept at it, sometimes just scraping past the thousand, sometimes rushing past and writing twice as much or more. And finally somewhere along the way I started ‘Cider Lane‘ though I did not know that’s what I was doing at the time.

When I finished the first draft of the novel I did not realise I was starting I took some time out deciding I had earned a break from all that hard labour. Yet within a few days, I was missing that thousand a day habit. It is, after all, an addiction of sorts. Not ready to edit I started back on the randomness for a while. Somewhere along the way, Kram Seyah dipped his toes in the water for a while. When I finally published ‘Cider Lane’ a year later I did take a break for a few months. Too long in fact, as getting back into the habit was hard work and took several months or forced labour but once I did ‘Passing Place’ began to take shape.

And now… which is the reason behind this post, I find myself back out of the habit, nine months after publishing ‘Passing Place’ and I have written very little. I have plenty to work with, ‘A Spider in the Eye’ sits waiting to be written, as does ‘Maybes daughter‘ (both at around 50k words and waiting for the real work to begin.) I have a couple of chapters ‘Something Red‘ the sequel to ‘Passing Place‘ kicking about on the hard drive. But what I don’t have is the old habit of a thousand a day. So it’s time to make time once more and get back in the habit. And to any budding writers out, my advice is if you want to be a writer then do the same.

To leave you with another quote, this one from Neil Gaiman which I think is apt for this subject…

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Which is exactly correct in every sense…

(coincidently this post is 1137 words long, that’s my thousand a day for today at least, which is a start…)

adios for now

Mark

 

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Other posts on writing and self-publishing are collected here:

https://markhayesblog.com/publishing-and-writing/

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