I’ve tried a lot of different techniques for getting more regular in my writing. After trying a lot of pieces of software, I’ve landed on Scrivener as my preferred electronic writing tool of choice. But as I’ve commented elsewhere, when writing directly on the computer I find it hard to turn off my inner editor, and it is difficult to get any momentum going.
Back in 2012 I had some success with setting myself weekly goals instead of daily goals. By having a target of 2,000 words a week, I managed to get 70,000 words into the first draft of my novel over a 6 month period. However, this happened to coincide with a very slow period at work when I could pop down to a local cafe at lunch time and get 30 – 45 minutes writing done. Once work picked up to its usual frenetic pace, this technique fell away.
Since then I’ve been drifting – writing in fits and starts. The long period between writing sessions would mean that I would take ages to get started. Kids would interrupt, time would run out. Every now and then I’d get inspired and get a lot of words down in one big session, but it was very hit and miss.
So, my new plan. I took into account a few factors:
- I seem much better at turning off the inner editor when I am writing freehand.
- Regular writing is more important than volume of writing.
- I am never going to find distraction free time.
With all that in mind, my new writing technique has been going like this. I have a preferred type of notebook for writing (a certain type of Moleskin notebook with completely blank pages, each page roughly A5 size). On each page I seem to average 100 – 110 words. So, I decided on the following:
- Each day I have to write at least 1 page in one of my notebooks. That’s only 100 words. It doesn’t matter how late I stay up, how much other stuff I have on, I need that 100 words.
- Most of the time those 100 words happen as my absolute last thing of the day. I’m tired. I’m often slightly snarky. It is exactly the opposite of the time of day most people recommend for writing. However, it is about the only time that is practical.
- Most nights I do more than 1 page. Some nights I only barely do 1 page.
- I leave the writing sitting, then follow along about 6 weeks behind typing it up into Scrivener. Here I let my inner editor go crazy, and what I type up is often quite different than what I wrote in the first place. It’s still pretty crappy, but it’s slightly more consistent crap.
Since I started this technique on 1 January 2014, I’ve written about 150 pages, conservatively about 15,000 words. That’s about the same number of words than I wrote in all of last year. I seem to be able to sustain it. It seems to be working. I’ll never be the most prolific writer in the world, but I’m very glad to be making progress.
That’s enough for now – I still have a page to fill up before I can go to bed.