Progress on my new novel has been going rather well lately. I’m finding more time in my busy schedule of full time work, family/friend commitments and other writer related tasks such as reviewing and proofing. I read an article in an old edition of Writing Magazine which sited that one of my favourite and most admired authors, Stephen King, writes at least 2000 words a day. A few years ago, this would have seemed a lot. This would have been my maximum for a week, maybe two. But the fact that he was able to achieve this every day of the week, sometimes by 11.30am, (admittedly it is his main income) made me think about the way I was approaching my own writing time. Despite trying to fit a few hours into each week of writing, I was not surprised to discover that this was not enough to keep the momentum going on my novel, or to make any real solid progress, before I had to down tools and make dinner, or head off to work. But during the past few years, my time freelance writing for local press has allowed me to build a faster typing speed and an efficient turn around of ideas into articles. Which put me back into the practice of writing more faster. I soon realised if I gave myself the time, when the ideas where there I could easily write 2000 words in a few hours. The every day thing might be a problem. But a few days a week, this was definitely doable. Particularly when I have a novel to finish.
That edition of Writing magazine also came with a year planner which I decided to put on my wall, to chart the amount of hours and the word count for each day I wrote. Not surprisingly, I am already writing more frequently and finally setting a pattern and some continuity for work on my novel. But what constitutes writing time? Any time spent at my keyboard, whether that be reviewing, blogging, working on my novel, even the crucial editing stages, are all recorded. I don’t allow more credit for one or the other. These are all valuable hours spent crafting words into an effective art form of one or the other. They all count towards becoming a better, more practised writer.
Of course the article also claimed that Stephen King thinks three months is plenty of time to complete a first draft of a novel. And it probably is, in an ideal world. I agree that leaving a book unfinished for too long can make the characters or situation go stale. I was beginning to find this with my current novel, which has been ten years or so in the making. But the characters are still very much alive, wanting their stories to be written and I’m still excited to see the end result. I’m looking forward to completing my first draft of my second book, it just may take me a little longer. I have also been getting some exercise first thing in the morning before starting my writing, something which King also practices in his own daily routine. There’s nothing like a walk in the fresh air to get the creative juices flowing. I also liked King’s take on the artists muse. A concept that so many writers, including myself, often have difficulty with.
Don’t wait for the muse. Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine til noon…If he does know, i assure you sooner or later he’ll start showing up.
His words appear to ring true. The more I have set a regular schedule for my writing, a routine of producing 2000 words as many days of my week as possible, the more the ideas seem to come, the keyboard seems to work itself with me simply watching over the creation, no more than a guide. I am yet to read King’s On Writing, a part memoir part writing masterclass, which charts his rise to success as one of the best selling Authors of all time. It sits on my bookshelf, among other practical manuals such as The Writers and Artists Yearbook, Grammar for Dummies and Inside Book Publishing. One day soon, I’ll take it down and dust it off. Maybe I’ll discover some other tips to help me to become the kind of writer I’d like to be.