Pretty much from the start of my writing career (I define this as when I started learning and writing everyday back in 2016), I’ve suffered from this problem.
I think it’s a problem a lot of creative suffer from, and it makes you feel inept, like you’re not good enough.
The problem is simple: when I don’t write, or if I take a day off, I feel like that’s a day wasted and that I’m a failure for taking the day off/not writing.
They say that writing is a muscle, and like muscles, you should exercise them every day. I agree.
Over the past two years, I’ve made an effort to write at least 2,000 words a day. That’s my mantra. Some days I hit it. Some days I don’t. Sometimes life gets in the way and completely throws off your game.
But now, since the world has gone into lockdown and I’ve been furloughed from my job, I’ve got a lot more time on my hands.
Which means one thing: there are no excuses not to be writing. I have few distractions, so what’s the excuse?
Well, what I also seem to have done since lockdown is compound this ineptitude.
What happens now is, instead of just writing every day, I try and do three things.
I call these things “The Three INGs”
Let’s look at those in more detail.
This is original material. So, pretty much my 2k words. At the moment I’m working on the sixth instalment in the Jake Tanner CID Case Series, and I’m making good progress. It’s looking like it’ll hit 110k words since I started about two months ago.
But some days I have bad days. If I know I’ve got a lot of other things to do in the day, and that I might only be able to write 1k instead of 2k, I convince myself that that’s OK... when in reality I know I should be doing 2k.
This is a new thing for me. I hate editing. At least I did at the start of the year. Having to read through the shitty first draft you’ve written, going through, making mammoth changes or maybe even smaller changes. It seems like a daunting task.
But since lockdown began, I’ve edited The Conspiracy, am nearly finished with The Community, and am now making my way through (the mammoth changes) of The Confession, Book #3 in The CID Case Series.
I’ve made some very good progress in this domain. At the start of the year, when I was working full time and commuting and everything — before lockdown began — it took me about two months to edit The Conspiracy. Now that I’ve made myself more disciplined and productive, I managed to get through The Community in about two weeks. And now I’m pretty much going through a 50% structural rewrite in The Confession, I’m making some strong progress on this one too.
Editing, at the moment, is taking precedence over the writing.
But there’s a catch-22 to that situation.
Recently, for example, over the past couple of days (the reason for this post, actually), I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump.
I’m currently working on CID #6, CID #2 and CID #3 — all of which are at various stages in their production. And my routine is: write 2k words of CID #6, then rewrite/edit some scenes in CID #3, then spend the bulk of the day editing CID #2.
But the problem with this has been: if I don’t write my 2k words in CID #6, then it has a knock on effect for the rest of the day.
And then the same thing happens the following day.
And then the day after that.
Fortunately, today, I’ve been creative. I finished Episode 5 of CID #6, and am now going to make some headway into CID #3, then focusing on CID #2 for the rest of the afternoon. I’m also feeling creative enough to write this blog post — along with all the other things I’ve got to do.
One of which is my final ING
Writers are taught to read all the time. Now, I’ve been pretty bad at this recently. In fact, terrible is the correct word I should use.
I mostly read non-fiction for research purposes rather than fiction for both enjoyment/research purposes.
But I’m trying to change that. In the past two months or so, I’ve made my way through two fiction books and two non-fiction books.
And so I try to fit some reading time in as part of my Three INGs.
It doesn’t have to be a lot, so long as it’s fit in and I’m focussing on it.
So, there you have it.
My Three INGs.
Mostly in that order.