Mark Terry

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Daily Goals

August 31, 2010
For the longest time--years--I would write 5 pages a day on whatever novel I was working on. I could crank that out in 30 minutes or an hour and I'd be done.

Then I started writing for a living. And the fiction writing got crammed in with a lot of other writing and sometimes I had more immediate deadlines to deal with and the fiction writing dropped down on the priority list and I would squeak it in at the end of the day. Still, I tried for 5 pages. But I was happy sometimes with one or two (and some days I didn't write fiction at all).

And for the record, all you people on Facebook who routinely announce your word count each day--okay, never mind. I was going to say something really rude, but I'll hold my tongue.

It occurred to me this week that if I have any intention of actually completing the next Derek Stillwater in a timely fashion, I'd better stop screwing around with a page a day (or so). That I'd really better get back in the 5-pages-per-day routine or I wasn't going to be done with this sucker until next spring sometime.

So I'm trying to put in 5 pages a day. And I'm finding that when I do, I tend to get on a roll and it flies along. Maybe the 1 page or so, low-priority thing is self-defeating. Maybe it takes me a couple pages to prime the pump. Maybe like my runs, it takes me a while to get warmed up.

I don't know, but it goes better when I try to write 5 pages a day.

How about you?


Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Unfortunately I've never taught myself to write fiction an hour at a time. I have to be doodling around for longer than that before any useful ideas come to me. I can string sentences together and simply expand, blandly, what's in an outline, but I can't really write anything interesting. So I try to arrange to have chunks of time to write - entire days. Which is only possible because I freelance and work at home. No doubt, if I could write every day I would be far more productive but I can't seem to teach myself to do it that way.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I don't know how I'd do with fiction in big chunks. I've never done it that way. I've had to do NF of various sorts where I slammed on it 8 hours a day and that's exhausting, although some projects just require big chunks of time, that's for sure.

9:28 AM  
Blogger Jon VanZile said...

Sounds familiar ... A month or so ago I realized that if I ever wanted to finish the book I was working on, I'd better get serious writing it. I had 12,000 words done at the time. So I told myself I'd do 1,000 words a day, every day, no matter what. And I'll be damned if I haven't stuck with it. Last night, I hit 55,000 words and began the climax sequence. It's definitely easier to keep a book in your head if you're working on it every day ...

10:08 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

There's something to be said about momentum.

10:38 AM  
Blogger JaxPop said...

Saturday nights 9PM - 4AM & rainy Sundays. I need bigger chunks of time. My day job kicks my butt, stress levels off the chart, so during the week, all I manage is editing. Oddly, I never look at word count.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Jim said...

A couple of weeks ago I was just noodling around with something and got into working on it in bits of time -- an hour here, a half hour there -- and almost before I knew it I had eight thousand words. This was the first fiction I'd touched in more than a year. It wasn't anything I might have a use for... think of it as a painter discovering that his paint has not all dried up and the brushes still work too.

1:05 PM  
Blogger L.C. Gant said...

I like the idea of daily writing goals. That's probably part of the reason why I was so much more productive during NaNoWriMo. Those 1,000 words per day seemed like nothing at the time.

My only question is, what about revisions? Do you try to edit a certain number of pages each day as well?

5:45 PM  
Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

Hey! We need the motivation! Seriously, I wish more writers would announce their daily word count. I'd totally join in. Whatever helps.

I'm struggling too much to have a fixed daily count, but I generally stick between 1K and 2.5K. I'd be much happier if I wrote 5K daily. I mean... I have no other job! I should at least be able to write 5K and read a whole book every day. That's the goal, anyway.

6:02 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I did that when I first got married. Leanne worked a lot of weekends and a slightly staggered day shift. Lot of weekend writing time.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

That's sort of how some of my secondary projects grow. The SF novel's sort of on hiatus, but it's still being worked on here and there. It adds up.

6:33 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I tend to read the previous day's work and tweak as I go. When I'm finally done with a draft I'll print it out and rewrite the hell out of it.

6:34 PM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Well, if it makes you feel better, I spent most of the day finishing up Appendix A on one of the market research reports I'm working on and I must have written, let's see, it's 22 pages long, 1 to 2 pp, single spaced for 11 profiles, easily 5500+ words on that. Plus I've decided to start working on China Fire again, even if it's a page or so a day... plus the new Stillwater, where I did get 5 pp in today.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Natasha Fondren said...

China Fire! Woo-hoo!!! *pumps fist*

6:57 PM  

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