Sunday, 5 March 2017

Consistency: the writer's highest virtue

Image result for no time to write

Following last week's post on making time to write when there is no time, I would like to stress (though I know I've said this before), that even if you have little available time for writing, consistency is absolutely essential for those who want a jab at doing this professionally. Consistent daily output adds up, even though each separate day might not feel very productive. It's like chopping away at a great big rock with a hammer: you break off a tiny piece each time, and while for a long while it may seem as though you aren't doing anything at all, eventually the rock will crumble.

What exactly do I mean? It's better to put in a 1,000 words a day, every day, than write 5K in a single exhausting burst and then need a week's worth recovery time. If you outline carefully and know exactly what you want to write next, those 1,000 words can be written very quickly - in 30-45 minutes. Most people can carve out 30 minutes of their day to do whatever... I mean, most people do carve out a lot more than 30 minutes, without even being aware of it, to do stuff like hang out on social media or watch cat videos on YouTube.

A 1,000 words a day, 5 days a week, 20 days a month, is 20,000 words a month. It's the first draft of a 100,000-word novel in 5 months. It's two solid books a year which, while not insanely productive, is a respectable output. I know, I know - the first draft needs to be edited, it needs to be proofread, it needs to be sent out to stand in the throng of queries if you trad-pub; and if you self-pub, you need to format, obtain cover design, publish and market. But still, those 1,000 words a day will get you in the right direction. So don't be sorry you can't put in 2K, 3K or whatever it is other people write daily.

Listen, I don't know what challenges you might be facing in your life right now. Maybe you have a day job, kids, elderly parents, other commitments. Maybe you have a spouse who thinks their hour-long browse of AliExpress is legit recreation, but your hour writing is shameful neglect of family duties. Heck, I've had periods in my life (mostly during Mommy Boot Camp with newborns) when I was so desperate for some writing time that instead of taking a shower every day, I took a shower every other day and wrote every other day. And I carved out epic novels. It was a slow, frustrating haul but it happened - one word at a time.

Just do what you can, and do it consistently, and it will pay off.

No comments:

Post a Comment