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Leigh On Writing

Writer Stephen Leigh has a fascinating post on his own writing process here, for those who are interested in how writers write. His process seems to be a mix of doing some planning beforehand, letting a novel take you where it wants to go, and making sure to write every day:


I write relatively slowly but steadily. To me, writing has to be a habit, something you do every single day -- not just on weekends, not just when the Muse strikes you. Every day. Without fail. And if you do it every day, you don't have to produce massive amounts of words to make significant progress. I tend to average 500 - 600 words a day -- that means that sometimes I do 1,500 words while other days I'll be in minus figures because I'm ripping stuff out that doesn't work for me (getting rid of awful prose is also writing). Average 500 words a day, and you can write a fairly thick novel every year...


A lot of wisdom in what he says.

Comments

The thing that gets me about daily word counts is--what do you count when you're revising?
I count hours, using the formula that one hour of revision is rougly one page of new writing. So if my goal is to write 500 words a day, that would translate into either 500 words or two hours of revision.
Ah yes, that makes sense.

I think I'm giving my brain a break from writing and revising for a night, if only to cleanse it from the frustrating experience of last night before diving back in again. But in penance, I will begin the critiques for my writer's group meeting on Sunday.
I don't actually track word counts anymore (though I'll confess to having kept an Excel spreadsheet of daily word counts for a few years; God, what a geek!), but it's easy enough to figure out the average when I know what the word count is for the current project and what day I started...

When I'm revising, I don't worry about it as long as I'm actively working and making progress. Sometimes getting rid of excess or wrong words is as important as adding new ones. Revision is writing, too...

I like MAB's take on hours. Makes sense to me!
When I was in high school, my school sponsored me to go to a Young Author's Conference at McGill university; one of the pieces of advice from that that I've retained was to write a page a day, every day, and that it doesn't matter what the size of the page is. In terms of discipline, that's helped me a lot, even though some days my pages are post-its.

I've yet to write fiction I'd actually want to read, of course, but it's getting better :)
Given the kind of writer I am, this bit is hugely comforting to me:

I tend to average 500 - 600 words a day -- that means that sometimes I do 1,500 words while other days I'll be in minus figures because I'm ripping stuff out that doesn't work for me (getting rid of awful prose is also writing). Average 500 words a day, and you can write a fairly thick novel every year...

So maybe I will finish that story this week, the way I've been pushing to do!
You will! Go, scarlettina!
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