Note: Congratulations to Jeannie Intrieri. She's the winner of the giveaway from Chuck Sambuchino's November 1 post.
By Kerry Lonsdale
First off, I have to credit Natalia Sylvester’s October 8, 2013 post at The Debutante Ball as the inspiration for this post. It was the first post I’ve read where an author confessed they don’t write every day.
Hallelujah! That post kicked a 50 pound self-inflicted guilt monkey off my back. Do I write every day? Heck no! I have a life that includes a husband and kids and more animals than I ever thought I’d adopt.
When I write I go deep in my head. It takes a lot of energy, and time, for me to write well. Even if my schedule permitted, I am mentally incapable of writing every day. While writing for me is a necessity—we’ve all heard the expression: writing is like the air we breathe, we have to do it or we die—it is simultaneously invigorating and exhausting.
We are supposed to write every day, right? That’s what the “experts” tell us.
The Rules of Writing
1. Write every day. Even if you’re suffering from writer’s block, just sit in your chair and write anything and something will come.
I admire any author disciplined enough to write every day, rain or shine, weekday or holiday. I don’t. I never have, and I never will.
Hyperventilating. (frantically searches for paper bag)
I tried word count goals. My 1,000 words/hour always read like … well, they stink. And the time pressure stresses me out. For someone who already has enough stress in her life, I don’t need to inflict any more on myself. So I write what I am capable of producing during the time I have available. Some days it can be 3,500 words over a four hour period or one perfect sentence that has taken the entire day to construct.
3. Read vast and often across multiple genres. The more well-read you are, the better writer you’ll be.
Confession: I am the slowest reader. Ever. I’ve always been this way, was even sent to after school reading tutorial sessions to improve my reading speed. I failed miserably. And it took many years for me to be okay with the fact I’m a slow reader.
But I LOVE to read.
Some months I can finish one book per week, when I have the time. Other months, I’m lucky to finish one book. Yes, I’m that slow.
My reading time is limited by the speed at which I read, so I don’t read vast and often. I read the most enjoyable book I can find in that moment I have available.
Strike 3. I’m out. If I can’t stick to the rules, maybe I shouldn’t write. Right?
Wrong. No more guilt monkeys.
Set Your Own Rules Guidelines
And don’t feel guilty about it, because your guidelines are right for you.
My guideline? Finish what I start.
Plot a novel? I finish.
Character templates? I finish.
Fast first draft? I finish.
Second draft? I finish.
Edits and revisions? I finish.
Plotting a novel may take a week. Character templates may take two hours. A fast first draft may not be very fast, taking months instead of weeks. But I finish each step, because every step gets me closer to a completed novel. And that’s more than fine with me.
What writing rules do you break? Which ones bother you the most? Have you set your own writing guidelines, and if so, what are they?
Kerry has written professionally for over twenty years. Prior to discovering a passion for fiction writing, she was a marketing executive. These days her writing is focused on Women’s Fiction and her work has received recognition in numerous writing contests.