Tag Archives: Writing daily

Don’t break the chain!

This is a good visual trick for establishing a routine of any sort. In this case, it’s about writing daily.

Jerry Seinfeld once gave advice to a young comic.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

And then he repeated for emphasis: Don’t break the chain.

In looking for an image to illustrate I found a site that allows you to do this online.

For some of you, this might be great. But you know me, I’m the analog girl, and for me, that big calendar on the wall would be the answer. In fact, it’s how I used to meet my deadlines when I was writing novels.  I’d have a one-year calendar on the wall beside my desk (where my storyboards are now) and I’d write each day’s page count on it and watch that chain of days grow longer and longer.  On good days, I’d scratch through the word count, sometimes more than once, as I kept adding more and more.  Deadline+adrenalin=werdz on page!

To add to the mix, a recent lifehacker post demonstrates “Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret on Steroids.” He points out that it can be used to build any habit from exercise to reading to Jerry’s original goal, writing.

After a long career of not writing daily, of believing that forcing words every day whether they seemed ready or not did not produce my best work, I finally gave in and started the writing daily habit.  I remembered those days under deadline, and how the adrenalin built, the muse flexed, the creativity soared.  And yes, I discovered that writing daily and insisting that I produce a certain number of words could work for me. I was amazed, and on a creative high.

Real life knocked me around a bit recently and I’m not writing now.  I miss it.  I need to get back on the bandwagon. I may even get another Yearly Wall Calendar if I can find a blank place on the wall to stick it, and a fat red marker… or no, I’ll keep the word count instead or… I dunno. I’ll figure it out. If I don’t get back on the wagon I think I’m going to lose my mind, though.

Do you write daily? Do you have any daily habit? Do you track it?  How?

In the meantime, advice to remember, writers–Don’t break the chain!

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Filed under Analog, Office gear, Organizing, Storyboard, Writing, Writing daily, Writing Process

Don't break the chain!

This is a good visual trick for establishing a routine of any sort. In this case, it’s about writing daily.

Jerry Seinfeld once gave advice to a young comic.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

And then he repeated for emphasis: Don’t break the chain.

In looking for an image to illustrate I found a site that allows you to do this online.

For some of you, this might be great. But you know me, I’m the analog girl, and for me, that big calendar on the wall would be the answer. In fact, it’s how I used to meet my deadlines when I was writing novels.  I’d have a one-year calendar on the wall beside my desk (where my storyboards are now) and I’d write each day’s page count on it and watch that chain of days grow longer and longer.  On good days, I’d scratch through the word count, sometimes more than once, as I kept adding more and more.  Deadline+adrenalin=werdz on page!

To add to the mix, a recent lifehacker post demonstrates “Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret on Steroids.” He points out that it can be used to build any habit from exercise to reading to Jerry’s original goal, writing.

After a long career of not writing daily, of believing that forcing words every day whether they seemed ready or not did not produce my best work, I finally gave in and started the writing daily habit.  I remembered those days under deadline, and how the adrenalin built, the muse flexed, the creativity soared.  And yes, I discovered that writing daily and insisting that I produce a certain number of words could work for me. I was amazed, and on a creative high.

Real life knocked me around a bit recently and I’m not writing now.  I miss it.  I need to get back on the bandwagon. I may even get another Yearly Wall Calendar if I can find a blank place on the wall to stick it, and a fat red marker… or no, I’ll keep the word count instead or… I dunno. I’ll figure it out. If I don’t get back on the wagon I think I’m going to lose my mind, though.

Do you write daily? Do you have any daily habit? Do you track it?  How?

In the meantime, advice to remember, writers–Don’t break the chain!

4 Comments

Filed under Analog, Office gear, Organizing, Storyboard, Writing, Writing daily, Writing Process

I am insane.

 

 


1711 / 50000 words. 3% done!

 

 

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Filed under nanowrimo, Writers, Writing, Writing daily

So. This nanowrimo thing.

I may do this.  It’s crazy, man, crazy.  I have no business even thinking about it.  There’s every reason to believe I won’t be able to finish it.

But I may do this crazy thing.  I’ve churned out words before, but this November looks rough. Looks like a ridiculous time for me to even consider this insanity.

I wonder if I can have the name pooks.  I’m sure somebody else is already there with my name, damn it.  Maybe planetpooks?  I need to go sign up.

So.

Who’s in it with me?

Come on. Do it. Try. Just try. I don’t want to do it alooooone!

November 1st approaches….

NOTE:  I’m there.  My name is (brace yourself) pooks!  Be my buddy!

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Filed under nanowrimo, Writers, Writing, Writing daily, Writing Process

Making time.

Many years ago I picked up a used book, How to Be a Successful Housewife Writer, by Elaine Fantle Shimberg.  At the time I was rather taken aback by the word “Housewife” right there in the title, because it was a word that was offensive to me, the idea that you were married to a house, of all things.

Excuse me while I take a few deep breaths.

All right. Moving forward…

One of the most important ideas I carried away from that book was the need to actually–hold on now–

Make time to write.

Sounds simple, I know, but at the time  I was so busy with activities, being a mom and being in various organizations, and don’t forget Jazzercise!  (I did say it was many years ago; don’t look at me that way.) But here in her book she not only stressed ditching those commitments, but gave a list of questions to ask yourself about them.  Questions like, “Why did I join?” and “Is that still valid in my life?” Because for many of us, commitments are things that we don’t reconsider; we just add more on top of what we already have.  We join a group and take on responsibilities and we form friendships and people are depending upon us, and it’s habit, and…

We have many reasons for continuing to do the things we’ve always done, but are they important reasons?  Do we still feel a driving need to do this thing, or is it just something we’ve done for a long time and don’t know how to stop? Don’t know how to start saying no?  Don’t know how to withdraw?

At the end of that year I refused all offices and let everybody know I wouldn’t be involved in those groups the next year. I took back my time and put a priority on being able to actually write.  Not in snippets of time here and there, but in long hours without interruption.

Not only that, but I began to “write” while I was doing other things, those things I couldn’t avoid.  I edited what I’d written that week at swim meets on Saturdays.  I carried research materials, highlighters and post-it notes with me so that I could research when I had snippets of time.  During stressful events in our lives there are times when we don’t have the emotional or physical energy to create, but could fill this fifteen minutes or that hour with research or organization or plotting or world-building. Sometimes just having a list of the various things you don’t know enough about to write, a list of characters who need names, or a blank index card to make new lists on, can not only move your writing project forward, but can ease the tension in the pit of your stomach by giving you a part to play in the process of writing, even when you aren’t actually putting words on the page.

I’m finding that today making time to write is still an issue, but a different issue.  Making time to write doesn’t just mean having time to sit in front of a computer screen.  It means making myself read for fun so that I can be inspired by wonderful books other people have written.

It means that sometimes I have to put the books aside, pull the earbuds out of my ears and take a shower or take a walk or drive in the car without the radio, to allow my story to talk to me instead of keeping my mind filled with distractions.

It means having time to mull, to stew, to gnash my teeth.  It means having time when I’m not being talked to, pulled at, questioned.

It means being still.

It means moving.

It means being in place so that when the words suddenly spring forth or the idea materializes–I can actually go sit down and do the work. (Or at the very least, it means always having something handy so I can whip out a moleskine and dash off the ideas before they flit away.)

It’s too easy to stay too busy.  We have so many things that must be done, demands that are fair and just.  Spare time is hard to come by.  And then when we have it, we have all these other commitments, things we’ve always done….

And that brings me back to Shimberg.

If you’re a writer, you do not put writing in a “spare time” category while you do less important things just because you always have done them.  You make writing one of your core commitments, and push those other things into your “spare time.”

I did that years ago. I eliminated a lot of social and community activities. And I have never regretted it.  I simply consider myself blessed that I could do so.

On the other hand, my body wishes I’d kept up with the Jazzercise…

Okay.  Maybe not.

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Filed under Books, Women, Writers, Writing, Writing daily

So. Writing about writing.

I was reminded gently this week that some people do like to see me natter on about writing.

Who knew?

Or at least, about moleskines.

Well, let me natter a bit about process. It may or may not result in nattering about moleskines, but if not, never fear, I will natter about them again later.

My process is different with this book. This scares me, but I am using this new process and only time will tell if it works.

In the past, I was a mood writer.  I had to work myself into it, into that moment of passion, of anger, of agony, of grocery shopping boredom or getaway-riding terror.  I’d mutter and pace and growl a lot, cuss even more, and finally work up a head of steam and the words would pour out.

When I was under a deadline, such things happened faster, daily, sometimes several times a day, because adrenaline was running and I was riding that tide. Otherwise, I’d write until I’d exhausted my muse’s connection and then I’d lay off, sometimes for days, before the next bit came.

And all in all, it worked.

This time, however, I am doing something different. I’m writing daily. I’m keeping track of my words per day, writing daily at least five days a week.  Yes there have been times when the muse wasn’t there.  There have been weeks when I didn’t write much, though I don’t think there were more than a couple when I didn’t write at all, and those were when I was ill.

Writing daily and watching the words is a very different experience.  It means sometimes I’m flying on hope, not quite feeling it, uncertain that I’m anywhere near the mark, and writing anyway because I need those words to justify my work for the day.

Sometimes I worry that when I finish this draft it will be a steaming pile of excrement.

But then toni says things like:

Oh, I get that–I get that fear. Believe me, I do. And I understand why it’s there, because that method did work. That just doesn’t meant that this one won’t *also* work–it’ll just feel different. But my point is that your skills are not subject to your muse. Your skills are always there, and if you look at it later and it doesn’t build to the crescendo you want, you’ll have (a) recognized it and (b) be able to go in and fix.

Oh.

You mean, I don’t have to have just one process. There might be more than one that works.

I teach this all the time, and I even teach, “The process that works on one book may not work on the next.”

I stand in front of people and say that all the damned time.

But I have to have somebody else say that to me, to remind me, damn it.

That just ain’t right.

But it’s better than if nobody said it and I was still wandering and muttering and cussing a lot.

Wait.

I still do that.

Moving on…

So when she says:

Just write the damned thing. It will be fine.

I guess that’s what I must do. And it will be.

[next up (unless a different shiny topic leaps into my line of sight): tips for writing words daily, or how to avoid the thesaurus and find your bliss with brackets and holes]

Also, I just ordered this shirt, because, really?  It speaks the truth.

I got it here.

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Filed under Writers, Writing, Writing daily