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You Can Do It YOUR Way!!

 

 

 

 

During the Festival, lots of us have been focused on word counts: how many words during a sprint, how many words per day, how many words of a manuscript have we written?

But numbers aren’t necessarily everything, and there’s no magic number that works for everyone.

Stephen King famously writes 10 pages daily. That’s between 2500 and 3300 words every day. Every day, even holidays and his own birthday. Apparently, he’s a big believer in momentum.

But big, booming word counts like that aren’t the only option.

Ernest Hemingway wrote just 500 words a day, in the mornings when he had peace and quiet.  Just 500 words. But he kept at it, and he completed many stories and novels that made him an excellent living, and made him part of the literary pantheon forever.

James Joyce was even pokier. He was a slow, careful craftsman who took pride in taking his time. According to a famous story, a friend stopped Joyce in the street to ask him if his writing day had been productive. “Oh, yes!” replied Joyce with a happy smile. How much had he written? “Three sentences,” Joyce replied. And in that fashion, he wrote Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake.

We each need to figure out our own method, and follow our own way. Tell me a little about what works for YOU!

27 responses to “You Can Do It YOUR Way!!”

  1. A very timely post for me. I feel like such a lazy poser when it comes to my writing. I see many of the people who started writing when I did and they have 25, 50 or more books under their belts in the ten plus years we have all been at it.

    I am contracted to write a pair of novellas (25 k each for God’s sake) The first was due January 15th and I still have two chapters to go. The next is due March 1st. My poor publisher asks WHY I am so far over deadline on a novella. She is angry and I get it. I really do. But I have been working on this novella exclusively since December 1st. Not working on anything else and I have written 20,202 words. I truly wish I knew WHY I take so long. I have tracked my word count. I have written at least 250 words per day for 80 days and I am still not finished. Which makes me feel like a complete loser at this point. Stephen King is my hero and I’d love to be writing 3000 words per day. I have so many stories in my head and I realize if I don’t break out of this funk most of them will never be told. So, bottom line, nothing is working for me. Any suggestions?

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    • Darynda says:

      Louisa! Comparison is the thief of joy. Very few people can compare to the King. And he must be slowing down because he told GRRM he writes 6 pages a day. LOL. You do your thing your way and don’t let anyone make you feel the lessor for it. You are an amazing writer. Nuff said.

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      • Elisa Beatty says:

        Comparison is the thief of joy!! Amen to that statement.

        It’s the same as the Facebook effect that makes us feel like all our friends are always happy and on vacation and doing MUCH more exciting things than we are.

        We need to focus on the moment, and do what we can do.

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    • Kate Parker says:

      Louisa, you have a habit going. At least 250 words EVERY day for 80 days. That’s great. That’s momentum over almost 3 months. I’d say you’re a writer. Just one who needs to give herself more slack with deadlines. And learning things like that is part of being a writer, just like the way you’ve been sitting down and writing every day.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      It’s CRAZY to write 25 books in 10 years, much less 50. And I can already see others have been bringing up the big plagiarism story that’s all over the Romance world right now. Sometimes people who pump out the crazy big numbers aren’t…being entirely ethical.

      YOU are a true author, Louisa, and you write wonderful work!! And I’m sending you lots of good energy and pixie dust to get those last two chapters done very soon!!

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      • I want to thank all of my Ruby Sisters and everyone who stopped by to comment. I feel much better now. I still want to up my word count, but I am going to try doing it because I want to and not because I feel like I need to keep up with someone else. It is HARD not to, but I am going to try not to, day by day, at least. Love to you all for the encouragement and the kind words about my work!

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  2. Cynthia Huscroft says:

    Timely post for me as well. When I’m on a roll, I can manage 1,000 words a day. Lately, not so many…as in 0, zip, zilch…& haven’t peeked into the chatroom in 5 – 6 weeks:( An interstate move, packing and unpacking has taken up much of my time and energy over the past 3 months. Working on getting my mojo back. At his point, I am at least back to writing down snippets of where I want the story to go next…getting the mini-outline done:)

    Louisa….you got this:)

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    • Janet Walden-West says:

      Mini-outlines count. You’ll get there.
      So will I–knock on wood.

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      I agree with Janet! It all counts. It’s all progress.

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Moving is SOOOOO consuming of time and mental and emotional energy. Don’t beat yourself up.

      Once you’re settled, that mojo will come back.

      And doing just a little bit to keep your hand in, like it sounds you’re doing, is GREAT. You’ll have a deep well ready to tap once you’re ready to really work again.

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  3. Jennifer Bray-weber says:

    There is so much more to writing than putting the words on the paper/screen. Research, outlines, developing characters, more research, plotting, and sometimes the ideas need time to simmer. I call it a win if I can get ANY words down, no matter how small the word count.

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  4. Willow Croft says:

    Everything is in upheaval here, as well. Generally, though, I tend to outline and then write. Just write, and not worry about word count. Sometimes it feels like I wrote 5000 words and it’s only 900 and other days I write upwards of 3000 and it feels like I only wrote a few words. Just depends on how much I’m in the writer “zone”. I planned to work on my full-length manuscript for the Winter Festival, and I only wrote about three to five short stories, for different submission deadlines.

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    • Darynda Jones says:

      Still progress, Willow! good for you! And the writer zone is my favorite zone to be in. lol

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      “Only” three to five stories. THREE TO FIVE STORIES IS A LOT!!

      Again, the romance standard is insanely high compared to ANY other writing field.

      You’re doing great, Willow!!

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  5. I’m a momentum writer. I need breaks in between books because I binge on new words and exhaust myself when I’m writing a first draft. The hardest, slowest part for me is always revisions, but right now I’m pushing hard to get through a first draft and my minimum is 2K per day, six days a week. I so agree with this – you have to find the pattern that works for you!

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  6. Tamara Hogan says:

    Always an interesting topic, Elisa.

    I don’t write to daily word count, and never have. I’m a BICHOK writer – if I count anything, it’s hours in the chair – and while I start each day with a firm idea of which scene I’ll work on during that day’s writing time, I don’t lock myself into anything. Will it be a structure day? Do I feel like punching up sensory detail? Firming up the conflict, or characterization? I let the process take me where it will, and it takes how long it takes. It’s important to me that I enjoy my time at the keyboard. I want – NEED – time to play.

    I wouldn’t necessarily recommend my approach if frequent releases are important to you, but my approach reflects my priorities as a writer, and my needs as a person.

    Every writer has to figure out for themselves why they write, how they write, and where writing fits in with other life priorities. If word count works for you, go for it! But if it doesn’t, don’t fret – you’re still a “real writer.” Don’t hesitate to try something else. 🙂

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    • Kate Parker says:

      Tammy, I hear you on hours in the chair as my prime measure, but then we veer apart in that I always have something I need to work on that day. Other tasks are optional, and I’m always having to stop and research or look something up, but I always have something I want to finish. Sometimes two writers path may be the same, other times they’re 180 degrees out. But we’re ALL REAL WRITERS.

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      • Darynda Jones says:

        Agreed on both counts! I’ve always admired your conviction, Tammy. I just cautioned Louisa on the fact that comparison is the thief of joy, and yet that’s all I seem to do. Ugh. If this writer is writing 6 books a year, why can’t I? And that’s just it. I could. I just won’t. And then I feel guilty. But I do need time to let stories percolate. I’m a percolator. Yeah. That’s it. 🙂

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        • Tamara Hogan says:

          With the plagiarism trash fire raging through Romancelandia right now, let’s just say I have more doubts than ever about how many of those authors who write six books per year actually do the writing themselves.

          About the trash fire: Google Cristiane Serruya and plagiarism. This “author” made the USA Today bestseller list with a plagiarized book.

          Pro Tip: Do not plagiarize Courtney Milan, an IP lawyer and former law professor who clerked at the Supreme Court, or Nora Freaking Roberts, who has the deepest pockets in Romancelandia.

          WTF.

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  7. Avaline Nick says:

    I write a chapter and then take a 1-3 day break to ‘refill the well’ by reading, listening to music, and watching tv.

    Life prevents me from writing more right now. In the future, my process may change but I like how this method works so I may stick with it even when my kiddos are older.

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