April 27, 2011

writing patterns

Now that all the craziness of the past few weeks is starting to settle down, I actually have time to write. It's awesome. Monday, I managed 1200 words, and yesterday 1400. I would definitely like to keep the pattern going and get 1600 today, but we'll see. Some scenes are harder to write than others, therefore taking more time. I probably could have written a lot more yesterday had I not had such trouble with a certain scene; a dialogue exchange that may have been six lines long took me nearly an hour to write.

I have noticed that when I write with a word count goal in mind, my writing follows a certain pattern. Usually my goal is 1000 words. I know I can easily write 1000 words in a day. I know I can write even more because I have done it before. My highest daily word count to date is over 6000 words. That was one day, and I'm not sure that will ever happen again. I can consistently hit 1000 words if I force myself.

The first two to three hundred words come fairly easily. I'm in the groove of writing, excited to put words on the page.

I get to four hundred words, and my steam slows down. It takes me a while to get the next hundred words on the page. Not sure why. My attention span may wane. I may get a message on Facebook, or a mention on Twitter, or I may find a blog post about some odd writing related topic. I may need a snack, or I may need to take a quick stretch break.

After an hour or more wasted feeding my distracted mind, I come back to the keyboard. Oh, I still only have about 450 words. This really sucks. So, I drudge through the next fifty words, taking Twitter breaks every fifty words thereafter. I somehow manage to make it to seven hundred words.

Woo! Seven hundred words! I'm only three hundred words away from my goal! So I start typing fervently again, like when I first started for the day. I get maybe another hundred or two. Almost there!

I slow down again. Check Twitter, Facebook, my blog... etc. Anything to keep me from my writing just a bit longer. I may get another sentence or two in the meantime. My hand is trained to wander to the Firefox button on my desktop when I slow down for just a second. I need to move the button everyday so it won't be so easy to find it.

Then, I realize I've wasted a good few hours today on not writing. I commit to plug through the last thirty, fifty, or ninety words.

I easily pass the 1000 word mark, and before I know it, I'm writing like a fiend until about six o'clock. My husband comes in the office, demands dinner, and my writing day is over.

It's weird that once I hit that 1000 word mark, all writing inhibitions leave. It doesn't work for any other word count goal I set for myself. I've had 500 word writing goals, 1300 word writing goals, and even 2500 word writing goals. I easily pass the 500 and then recommit to 1000. I write to 1300 words and stop. I look at the 2500 word goal and just cry, knowing I can't make it that far. 1000 words is my sweet spot. Everything after 1000 words each day is just icing on the cake.

When my goal is 500, I feel like I'm cheating myself. When it's 1300, I know that's a reasonable request of myself, and I accomplish it without any good or bad feelings. When it's 2500, see crying; it usually becomes a drudge of boring work. But when the writing goal is 1000 words, I feel like I'm cheating myself if I refuse to make it, so I do. I force myself to reach the 1000 words, and then I feel like Queen Writer of the Universe! I am Writer Awesome! I can do anything. So, in my happy mood, I keep writing.

Do you have patterns in your writing? Do you commit to a daily or weekly goal, and how do you reach it?


  1. The first two or three hundred are actually the hardest for me. It takes me that long to get into the swing of things. After that, things really start flowing...until I reach the end of the scene. Then I have to sit and think about the next scene for a while. It's maddening!

  2. I don't do set goals, simply because I don't know when I'll be able to start writing or when I'll get pulled away by something oh so important. But someone (published) once said that a good writing goal is 50 words. It sounds like it could work for you really well — because it's after you hit the finish line that you really start running.

    Being an older guy, I'm able to accept that my writing time and focus comes in bursts. I don't sweat too much unless I've been out of the saddle for three months or so, but even then it always comes back and I'll be wondering why I worried at all.

  3. But 50 words is so easy! too easy, I think. My mind is tricky. I can tell myself all day that 50 words written is 50 more than I started with, but my mind knows that I can do so much more. I mean, I once wrote 6000 words in a single day! I know someday, I won't have this ridiculous number of hours to write, and I will have to adjust my writing schedule accordingly. But for now, it's 1000 words or bust.

  4. Wow Brooke! You're inspiring to get 1000 words a day. I can do that on occasion, but not every day (mostly because of work). Like Reece, I find it hardest to get started, but once I get going, the words usually come well.

    I also use Twitter as a distraction! :-)