Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A daily dose

Go to the bookstore or search online and you will find mounds of books, blogs, newsletters, websites, etc. offering advice on writing. One tidbit that bobs to the surface again and again is: write every day. An hour, a page; many experts recommend making writing as much a part of your everyday life as brushing your teeth.

The September issue of Writer's Digest magazine touches on this topic in several ways. While "The Big 10" issue is filled with Top 10 lists on a variety of subjects, let's focus on the topic of daily writing:

From "Top 10 Things Every Aspiring Writer Should Know" (Kirby Larson): "Debunk the myth that a writer should write only when she is moved or inspired. A piece of writing is created by sitting down each day and writing. You really can create on demand once you've decided not to be taken hostage by that part of your brain that's demanding you update your Facebook page, fold laundry, or answer an e-mail as it comes in."

From "Top 10 Essentials to a Writer's Life" (Erik Larson): "I set aside a minimum of three hours every morning, seven days a week, during which no one is allowed to disturb me except to report an incoming cruise missile."

From "Top 10 Things Every Writer Should Do" (Mary Higgins Clark): "Carve out a specific time to write virtually every day. 'When I get to it' means failure."

From "10 Experts Take on the Writer's Rule Book": John Dufresne agrees. "Writing is work. And you have to go to work every day. It's not a choice. If you don't punch in, you lose your job." Jason Scott Bell takes a different tack. "I used to do a daily count, but a little thing called life would interfere and I'd miss a day. Then I switched to a weekly quota and have used it ever since."

Writing every day (or close to it) is something that you'll have to train yourself to do. You may have to give up some other time wasting vice (no more LOL Cats!?) or at least cut down. Make yourself a space, even if it's just the corner table at the local coffee shop, and pet pen to paper, perhaps literally. Writing longhand is a surefire way to remove the distraction of updating your Twitter. Then you can do your second draft in Word.

Ya know, I think I may have to print this out and tape it up on the bathroom mirror, the fridge, the TV remote... because, yeah, I need that daily flick in the forehead too.

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