It is all very well to be able to write books, but can you wiggle your ears?

A thousand words before breakfast.

I’m not a big believer in the idea of setting a daily target of a certain number of written words. I don’t see the point. Sure, a bit of discipline can help you through the difficult bits of your story. It might force a solution to those plot wrinkles which leave you staring at the screen, thinking. And cursing. But if you have to force yourself to write the story, counting out the words as you go, then there’s an outside chance that the story’s no damn good.

Besides, the number of words you’ve written says almost nothing about how close you are to The End of it. If you delete four paragraphs to iron out a plot problem, and the book reads better as a result, then you’ve done a decent day’s work. And written minus a thousand words.

Whether it’s flowing at a thousand words and hour or it’s stubornly stuck at an impassable scene, I spend long periods being completely engaged with my story. I’m writing it all the time. At my desk. At lunch. In the cafe. On the bus. In front of the TV. While I’m talking to my relatives. Out jogging. Driving. While I’m asleep. I might not physically be typing out the words, but I just can’t get the damned thing out of my head. And that’s when I know it’s working.

A good story is like a brain splinter. It nags you ALL the time. It pretty much forces you to write it into life. If you have to drag yourself to your desk to squeeze out a thousand words from your head like the last of the toothpaste from the tube, then my guess is that you’re writing the wrong book.


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This entry was posted on December 4, 2012 by in Writing.
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