Egotism

IWSG: The Problem of Consistency

This is an entry for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, a way for writers to discuss their writing anxieties. It cross-posts on each others’ blogs on the first Wednesday of each month.

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge 2016

One of the biggest problems I have as a writer is writing steadily and consistently. Looking back through my blog there is plentiful evidence of this – I have often gone months without posting, and my posts seem to cluster around a few weeks of activity at a time.

Most writers will have felt the instinct to wait for inspiration to strike, to write when the ideas are flowing most readily. But sometimes ideas have to be wrung forcefully from our minds, so that there is at least a terrible first draft when inspiration does strike – a rough skeleton that a better version can be superimposed on top of.

My writing routine is rarely to write from beginning to end in the same way that the reader will read it. Usually I jump around – going first to the section that is most strongly formed in my mind, moving back when appropriate. I think this is a good idea to a degree – there’s always the risk of an idea being lost if it isn’t written down while it’s still hot. But it makes it a little harder to write consistently when there isn’t an idea crying out to be written, when the process calls for graft.

At the moment I’m working on a novel I’ve been playing around with for a few years, and making a serious effort to get a workable version of it finished. I’m hoping that being thorough and systematic will help me be more consistent. My plan is to set myself a deadline for the first draft, and daily targets which I hope to mostly hit, and exceed on average. I have a detailed plan for sixty chapters of roughly 1500 words, and I’m aiming for a thousand words a day between the start of September and end of November. (The aim is for the novel to be fast-paced with lots of plot, hence the short chapters.) While I probably won’t hit a thousand words every day I’m hoping to achieve it more often than not, and stay ahead of schedule.

It’s by coincidence that my planned end-point coincides with National Novel Writing Month – an international writing event when writers are encouraged to write a target of 50,000 words in 30 days. But I’m hoping that this will be helpful to me, with other writers joining in for what should, for me, be the final furlong.

Hopefully forcing myself to write more systematically, setting achievable goals and with ideas directly linking into each other, will help me to write more consistently.

2017-09-06 The Problem of Consistency.png

17 thoughts on “IWSG: The Problem of Consistency”

  1. Making an effort to write every day is essential. I wouldn’t worry so much about word count. Some days are more productive than others. I need a strong connection to my wip. This can be thinking, making notes, writing or editing.Good luck and I hope you find a consistent rhythm 🙂

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  2. I’m curious to know whether you’ve participated in NaNoWriMo in the past, since you mentioned it in this post. I’ve done it multiple times. The April and July camps as well. For me, they help train up a daily writing practice. I don’t get obsessed with hitting the 50k word count. I focus on: did I write today? But, like you, I struggle to kit the keys/pen & notebook daily. I’d love to hear more about your writing process. Specifically, how do you knit all your “jumped around” sections of writing together into a single coherent chronological story. How do you manage to generate logical character arcs? Do you find it difficult to track your characters’ emotional development when you jump around? Thanks for the post, and happy writing.

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    1. I’ve done NaNo before, completing a 28k word story. I tend to plan out overall plots and character arcs, but certain sections of the story arrive in my mind more strongly developed than others. It’s not always easy to keep things straight though, which is why I’m trying to write in a relatively chronological manner at the moment.

      Sorry about taking so long to approve and reply, I’ve just seen your comment in the queue!

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  3. Since completing NaNoWriMo a couple of times, I try to make a habit of using a timer whenever I write. It really forces me to get those words down and I usually write a heck of a lot more than I normally would otherwise. Best of luck David!

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    1. I have tended to use a timer at different points, I suppose that’s another good habit I should get back into! My writing routines are so haphazard and inconsistent that I often forget to carry on doing what’s worked for me in the past!

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  4. Having goals and schedules are important. Personally I’m terrible at them. If I write something every day (or almost every day), then I’ll be okay. But if I set targets then I’m just going to feel crappy when I miss them.

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  5. I have a bad habit of pushing myself way too hard one day, such that I leave myself totally mentally exhausted the next. It’s not a good system. I’m trying to teach myself to work at a slower but steadier pace.

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