That seems impossible.

Do other writers feel pressured by the whole “it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert” thing?  Or, Steven King’s habit of writing 10 pages per day, without fail, even on Christmas?

I know that when I read things like this I immediately resolve to write for 4 hours every day (at this rate it would only take me 6.8 years!) or maybe 11 pages, whichever is more.  And then I get stressed out, hate everything I write, and watch stuff on netflix instead.  

Here’s a great post on this from my favorite blog.

I wanted to share this because I think I may have found something that works for me.  It’s really a combination of two things.  The first was in a blog post, and I would link it here but I can’t find it now for some reason.  She was saying that she originally could only write a few thousand words a day, but she started keeping track of what circumstances led to her writing more, and then she did that.  For her, there were three things she needed: 1. time (at least four hours of free time to write) 2. enthusiasm and 3. no distractions? a plan? (I’m sorry I don’t remember this one!)

I don’t do the 4 hour thing, that just stresses me out, but having a plan of what I’m going to write is extremely helpful.  Also keeping a spreadsheet of the time I start, the location, what beverage I’m drinking, how much other work I had to do that day, and whatever else I want (yay spreadsheets- I just keep on adding variables, the scientist in me is interested to find correlations)

The second part is that I have resolved to spend 5 minutes per day writing.  

This seems like an insignificant amount of time.  It’s not enough to write more than a few words, maybe not even enough to think of anything at all.  But, it can be done easily, every day.  If I’ve had a busy day, I can still fulfill this in the last 5 minutes before I drift off (and what better way to fall asleep than imagining fun things. Unless again you’re Steven King.)  

And, guess what?  I’ve been writing a lot more than 5 minutes most days.  Today already I’ve been writing for about an hour an a half.  Yesterday I wrote for two hours.  The day before that I wrote for 2 or 3 hours (I’d have to check my spreadsheet. :) )

The key, I think, is that this writing this is so separate from most of my other life goals.  It’s way more important, and it’s so easy to feel guilty for not working more towards it.  But sometimes wanting something so badly can make working towards it impossible.

I realized yesterday that I know that if I just write a little every day I’ll eventually succeed.  I’m not fooling myself; I’m not there yet, I may not even be there in 6.8 years, but if I keep doing a little every day I will get there eventually.  Which is an exciting thought.  

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6 thoughts on “That seems impossible.

  1. Way to go!
    Even five minutes a day can keep the writer’s block away.
    And I like the spreadsheet idea… mainly because I have been using one for twenty years to keep track of my productivity, when and how it comes, and so forth. I find it works for me. But I have found most people “afraid” of the things.
    Best of luck!

      • I have one spreadsheet to keep track of daily production (by title) and another to show the graph of output (daily/weekly/monthly – I tried hourly too but that gets far too bulky). I have even done statistical surveys of when it is better (for me) to write varying types of stories. Working with the statistics and spreadsheet work is usually done first thing in the morning before my “writing” portion of the brain kicks in. And I have found it helps spur me on… “Only 1,356 words? Heck, I can do better than that.” And having the ending target amount and the % complete also helps. I always feel I can get to the next % plateau before the end of the day and I push for it.

        The games we play to keep productive! But it’s cheaper than hiring cheerleaders.

      • I am not a morning person and so the creative juices don’t flow well then. I can write technical papers of non-fiction early in the day, or background and scene outlines. Afternoons I can usually start expanding the sketches and after sunset everything’s going great.
        If my wife did not insist on us getting to bed by ten p.m. I could keep going feverishly until two or three a.m.
        I am sure it is different for others but that’s the way it is for me.

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