HOW TO SET YOUR PACE
Creating a writing process can be tough. It really can be. In my previous post I talked about the ways that ideas come to me and how those ideas get chopped into the meat grinder and put on the page.
There were some great comments about how to generate ideas, so you should take a moment to review both the post and the comments as well.
But this time I wanted to move a little further with the writing process. Because as I mentioned last time, “What do the ‘greats’ do?”
I was a bit beside myself when I found out that Stephen King typically writes for about 3 hours a day. He said that he wakes up, has breakfast with his wife, and then he writes for 3 hours.
My first thought was, “That’s it! Are you kidding me?” That’s when I realized that I don’t usually write for more than 3 hours a day myself – usually after a long day at work. Would I like more time to write? Sure! But I just don’t have it. I mean, where am I going to get it from? Time doesn’t grow on trees.
So this post is about pacing.
New writers have the tendency to sit down at a laptop, crack their knuckles, pop their necks, twiddle their fingers, and then get to writing. You crank away for hours, and at the end of that, you come up with a whopping 4,000 words! That’s awesome, right??
Yeah, it definitely is. But here’s the problem. You’ve got to do that at least 20 more times to come up with a market-sized novel of 80,000 words.
When the next day hits, you think: “Okay, I wrote 4,000 yesterday, I have to hit 5,000 today!”
These goals are unrealistic, and will virtually set you up for failure in the future if you intend to write for the rest of your life. Is it possible to have 4k days? Absolutely! I’ve had some 12k days in my life. I love’em like my play cousins!
But those aren’t the norm for me. A normal writing day for me is 2,500 to 3,000 words. But guess what my target goal is. Go ahead. Guess.
It’s 1,000 words. That’s all. Why 1,000? With 1,000 words, I can finish a 100,000 word novel in 100 days. That’s roughly 3 and a half months, taking in consideration days off, etc. That means that I am always on track to finish nearly 4 novels a year.
I’ve been writing for 2 years now, and I’ve completed 6 novels, and there are a few others that I’m working on.
What’s the lesson here? Find an attainable goal and work at it every day. What if you’re a single mom with 3 kids who drive you up the wall? Make your goal 300 words a day. That means that you will be done with a book in roughly 300 days – less than a year!
What’s your pace? Find it and stick to it. And if I were you, I wouldn’t change it for at least 3-5 months. Why? Well, if your goal is 300 words a day and you continuously write 800 words a day? Then you’re succeeding!
On the contrary, if your goal is 800 a day, and you only write 300, then you’re failing. And yes, you’re failing. Don’t sugarcoat it. That’s why it’s important to make realistic, attainable goals.
Find your pace. Make it a lifestyle. My goal has been 1,000 words for over a year. And guess what, I have not succeeded every day. There have been a lot of days where I’ve failed. But I know that once I hop back on the horse, success in staring me right in the face.
The race is not given to the swift nor the strong, but to him who endures to the end.
What are your thoughts? Do you have a pace?