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.
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.