by Peggy Bechko
The very idea causes many (or is that most?) writers to shudder. Doesn’t matter if you’ve taken on some kind of ‘contest’ challenge to get a fixed number of words down on a page or if your goal is to just find the time to sit yourself down and get some writing done.
Goals are good, but shouldn’t we all consider what we want to accomplish with those goals?
What the heck am I talking about? Well, whether you’re attacking a novel or a script is your goal to toss so much vomit onto the page and be pleased with that? Is it to throw down a whole lot of words and find some words that are actually useful down the line?
Do you just want to meet a word count or do you want it to be somehow useful? Do you feel like you’re a loser if you don’t meet that word count? (You shouldn’t.)
My point here is it’s fine to get a bunch of words written, but even better when (and I’m so practical – this is me) the intent behind it is to create characters, flesh them out, get a plot down (a real storyline) and lay down some nuggets that will pay off later. All that I expect from a challenge, whether internal or external, to lay down words.
So let’s think about this.
First of all, if you don’t make your goals you’re not a loser or a failure.
Learning and improving are two worthy goals that float around that word splash you’re after. Another is simply getting yourself to write on a regular basis. That can be pretty tough with all the distractions we have right at our fingertips and in front of our eyes these days.
My observation here is, if you’re going to take up that challenge, get yourself some kind of plan.
Fast isn’t necessarily better. A script might turn into a novel. A novel might detour into a script. A script can become a great outline for a novel. A well worked outline for a novel might well turn into a script. This is good! So, onward!
Another observation: find when you’re the freshest to write.
That can be tough if you have a job on the side as well, but it’s something you need to find out about yourself. Are you best in the morning? Do you really crank it out in the middle of the night?
Here’s the thing. If you can write when you’re fresh for the challenge, the content will be much better. On top of that your production speed will kick into high gear. You’ll write twice as much and better than when you’re at low ebb. Success is much closer when you can take advantage of your high octane self.
When you’ve engaged that higher octane self and you find yourself able to crank out better work faster it’ll motivate you to do more.
If you check out the writing you’ve done the day before, before you start fresh, things will click and you’ll do even better. You’ll catch things that don’t move the story forward. You’ll come up with fresh ideas that do.
That’s the ideal.
Are you aware it takes 28 days to develop a habit? (wonder if that has something to do with the phases of the moon?) If you can make yourself write every day, even a quarter of an hour, regularly, your mind will remain focused on the story even when you can’t actually be physically writing.
Staying tuned into your story is key. You’ll find you’re even attached to it when you’re doing mundane chores. You need to constantly exercise your writing muscle.
As long as you force yourself to pay attention to your story and not set it aside for long periods you’ll keep moving forward. On the other hand, if you set your work aside for a week…or even weeks, you’re going to forget all the details and end up needing to start all over again.
So, the end goal, really, is to keep writing. To stop making excuses and keep creating. You can’t sell a novel or a script if you don’t get it written. Challenge yourself – keep writing – every day. It all adds up.
Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.