Posts tagged with "practice" - Faerye Net 2008-08-20T11:33:07+00:00 Felicity Shoulders 500 words a day (or so) 2008-08-20T11:33:07+00:00 2008-08-20T11:33:07+00:00 <p>Of late, I&#8217;ve been listening to the <a href=""><em>Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing</em></a> podcast (are podcast names italicized?). This only happens, say, while grocery shopping or folding clothes, so I&#8217;m plugging through them fairly slowly. However, it&#8217;s interesting and often inspiring.</p> <p>This summer, they&#8217;re doing some contest which, in manner of crossover comics plotlines, is supposed to get AiSFP listeners to listen to sister program <em>I Should Be Writing</em> and vice versa. It has writer guests deliver &#8216;Keys to Publishing&#8217; which we&#8217;re supposed to collect from both shows. Anyway, the first one, in <a href="">Podcast 56</a>, was delivered by Tobias Buckell and was, naturally, persistence. Always number one, that one, I thought, as I picked out green taco sauce for enchiladas, but when Buckell expanded, it turned out he was not talking about sending stories out doggedly (hey wait, how many stories do I have out? Maybe I need that pep talk too), but about <em>writing</em> doggedly. &#8220;I think a professional has to write a lot, and be persistent about it. It takes about 300 words a day or a page a day to create a novel in a year, and a novel in a year is quite often, you know, a rate that a lot of people have to hit in order to make a living at it.&#8221;</p> <p>Obviously, this is good advice, as is the unpacking he does about practicing for productivity and practicing our craft in general, so I decided I would start writing 500 words a days towards a project I&#8217;m working on. If I only hit 300, that would be okay (I&#8217;ve discovered that setting goals works better if I don&#8217;t berate myself for falling short), and this is in addition to any other projects I&#8217;m working on. The first obstacle was, of course, that I do my initial drafts longhand. My <a href="" target="links">Clairefontaine notebooks</a> don&#8217;t have a word count function. So I chose a couple of pages and counted the words, estimated how many pages would make 500 words, and did that the first day, then typed it in (revising as I go, which is part of the point) and found it was 562 words. So far, so good &#8211; my goal is four pages longhand, not counting cross-outs.</p> <p>I&#8217;ve been doing it ever since, though yesterday I tried to cram it in before bed and ended up with three pages (hopefully that falls within my 300 word range). With the exception of yesterday&#8217;s hiccup, what I&#8217;ve found is that it&#8217;s easy. I sit down with all the despair and feeling of dorkiness that besets a new project, unsure what scene to write on the heels of the one I finished the day before. But I get an idea, or maybe two before one sticks, and I write. Most days I have written well over four pages, written to the end of a scene or until looking at the clock in alarm. This is the mystical &#8220;butt in seat&#8221; that our faculty member David Long recommends in place of muse. This is doing the work. This is self-conscious and awkward, but it&#8217;s moving me forward <a href="" target="links">to revision</a>, to having made something, to the future.</p> <p>Sometimes when established writers throw numbers around, it&#8217;s in the form of a rate, and it tends to cause panic in me and my fellows. But it doesn&#8217;t have to, if it&#8217;s not a rate, but a small, manageable goal. 500 words. 4 pages longhand. I can do this, every day.</p>