Writing 10+ Pages A Day

Filed under: Writing and Publishing — Administrator at 3:08 pm on Monday, August 1, 2016

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In July, I made a goal to complete the first draft of a new novel. I’d been working on a book for several months and I needed to finish it so that I could move onto other things.

So I increased the number of pages until I was writing 10 a day, sometimes even 15-20 pages when I was on a roll. I tracked my progress on Twitter.

It was a harrowing time. I wasn’t sure I would make it, but on July 31st, I finished the first draft of the book. It is 151,000 words, 530 pages.

Since I made my progress public on Twitter, lots of people asked me how I was writing so many pages in a day. Here are some thoughts on that.

I can’t stress enough that this was a first draft.
It will be a long time before I have a finished manuscript ready to send out for publication. For me, it’s easy to spit out a lot of words. It’s harder to edit them.

So, this draft is rough. Just because I wrote 10 pages doesn’t mean that they were all good pages.

I was motivated to finish because I took time off paying work.
I put aside my day job–writing articles–to spend a month on fiction. I can’t afford to do that often, so I made the most of my time, not only writing this first draft but working on short fiction as well. When I plan time to write fiction, I take it seriously.

I used rewards to motivate myself. My writing buddy and I agreed that if we met our July writing goals, we would get a reward. That was doubly motivating because I wanted the reward and I didn’t want to let my buddy (okay it was Marcia) down. Now we’re going on a road trip!

I used markers to motivate myself.
I find that visual evidence of progress is helpful, so I put a sticker by every completed bullet point on my outline and I made a dash on my notebook every time I finished a page, like so:

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I also wrote my daily word count on my whiteboard. This is for July.

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You’ll see I started on page 342 and finished on page 529.

The more I wrote, the easier it was to produce pages.
When I started, writing this book was so hard that completing three pages was a decent day’s work. Then something clicked and I got used to writing a lot every day. It’s like any other discipline: You do something enough, you get used to it, and it becomes easier. It’s a shift in perspective.

Everyone works at their own pace.
Several people contacted me saying they could never write this much this quickly. You know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. Every writer has a different process, and it doesn’t matter if you do 10 pages or 2 pages as long as you write regularly enough to make progress on your work.

Now this book will have a long rest before editing. I find that my fiction benefits from distance. Letting a draft sit for a period of time makes me more objective, which means that I can look at the book with clear eyes and have a higher chance of knowing what to do with it. Therefore this book is going to sit in a metaphorical drawer for several months before I pick it up again.

And that’s just fine… I have plenty of other things to write in the meantime.

The Other By Ted Hughes

Filed under: Writing and Publishing — joy at 9:30 am on Friday, January 29, 2016

She had too much so with a smile you took some.
Of everything she had you had
Absolutely nothing, so you took some.
At first, just a little.

Still she had so much she made you feel
Your vacuum, which nature abhorred,
So you took your fill, for nature’s sake.
Because her great luck made you feel unlucky
You had redressed the balance, which meant
Now you had some too, for yourself.
As seemed only fair. Still her ambition
Claimed the natural right to screw you up
Like a crossed-out page, tossed into a basket.
Somebody, on behalf of the gods,
Had to correct that hubris.
A little touch of hatred steadied the nerves.

Everything she had won, the happiness of it,
You collected
As your compensation
For having lost. Which left her absolutely
Nothing. Even her life was
Trapped in the heap you took. She had nothing.
Too late you saw what had happened.
It made no difference that she was dead.
Now that you had all she had ever had
You had much too much.
Only you
Saw her smile, as she took some.
At first, just a little.

I Need To Organize My Bookshelf

Filed under: Writing and Publishing — joy at 1:44 pm on Monday, August 3, 2015

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I have so many books. Organizing them feels like a huge deal. Someone come do it for me.

Annie Clark On Unplugging And Creativity

Filed under: Writing and Publishing — joy at 7:38 am on Tuesday, April 21, 2015

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One thing I kind of learned [about creativity] is that so much of the creative process is just about showing up. There’s some things, some realms of thought and levels of brain waves activity, or whatever, that you’re never going to get to being constantly distracted. And you’re never going to get to unless you’ve been plugging away on something, and it’s hour 7, and you want to quit music. And then something happens. -Annie Clark from St Vincent.

Suiting Up For Battle

Filed under: Writing and Publishing — Administrator at 7:19 am on Monday, March 2, 2015

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I looked down at my hand while I was line editing and had to chuckle. I look like I’ve had an injury, but in fact the three band-aids I have on are to protect my fingers from writing calluses. Who says editing a book isn’t physically taxing?

How I Edit My Novel

Filed under: Writing and Publishing — joy at 7:44 am on Monday, February 2, 2015

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When people talk about writing novels, the focus is always on writing the first draft. Editing, for whatever reason, is left out.

If you ask me, it’s more useful to learn how people improve writing than how they got it on the page in the first place. Writing is editing, as the saying goes.

Here’s how I’m editing my novel.

1. I print a draft out on paper.

2. I do a line edit, correcting language as I go.

3. As I read through the book, I write all questions that occur to me in a notebook, labeling the questions according to the chapter.

So for example:

Chimney Rock Chapter:

*What can be added to the description of the fort?

*What can be added to the description of the minstrel and Vira’s reaction to him?

* Is there a better way for Tobias to talk Elmer into the buffalo hunt? Conversation needs another element/more action.


At the end of the edit, I’ve filled half a notebook with questions about the novel.

4. I enter all language changes into the draft on the computer.

5. I sit with the questions and answer each one in a journal. This takes some time.

6. I write a plan for a new draft on a white board with all the changes noted below each chapter. (See image above.)

7. Finally, I go through novel on the computer and add all changes, correcting language as I go.

Continue until finished.

Virginia Woolf Hated Having Her Picture Taken.

Filed under: Writing and Publishing — joy at 7:37 am on Sunday, January 25, 2015

This is Virginia Woolf’s birthday. She would have been 133 years old today.

I have observed that Woolf hated having her picture taken. Allow me to demonstrate:

Screw you and your bloody camera.

Must every outing be destroyed in this way?

How can you say, try not to look bored? I put on my mother’s dress, posed for your picture, and now you want me to falsify my emotions?

Lovely. Can’t I even read without someone wanting to capture the moment.

I am smiling for the camera this time, dear. This is my natural smile.

Ah! Gah. This again? Bloody scalawag.

Happy birthday, Virginia Woolf.

Virginia Woolf Is Giving Me A Complex

Filed under: Writing and Publishing — joy at 7:16 am on Monday, January 19, 2015

On writing characters, Virginia Woolf said:

Few catch the phantom; most have to be content with a scrap of her dress or a wisp of her hair.

This quote has been haunting me ever since I read it last week. What kind am I writing?

Read Woolf’s essay on characters here.

A Tip For Making Writing Goals And Being A Happier Writer

Filed under: Writing and Publishing — joy at 9:14 am on Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Here’s a tip for making writing goals in 2015: don’t focus on accolades and publications. Instead, focus on output.

As a writer, you have no control over what people think of your work. That means you have no control over whether an editor accepts your submission or whether a judge awards you a prize or a grant. What you do have control over is the amount you write, the amount you submit, and the quality of your work. This is what I mean by output.

For me, the switch to becoming a happy writer occurred when I began focusing on output.

Instead of saying, I will get into X publication this year, I said, I will submit to X publication Y number of times.

Instead of saying, I will win this contest, I said, I will submit my best work to this contest.

Instead of saying, I will finish my book, I said, I will work on my book X number of hours a day until it’s finished.

This attitude has made all the difference in my peace and productivity as a writer. Sometimes when you try to do something, you fail. But at least this way, I know I’m trying. I’m holding true to what I said I would do, and I’m showing up every day to do it. I’m covering my end of the bargain.

All you can do is write good work and put it in front of people. The rest is up to them.

And I’m okay with that.

Happy New Year!

JRR Tolkien Was Adorable.

Filed under: Writing and Publishing — joy at 10:04 am on Monday, June 2, 2014

I post this video as evidence:

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