Writing Works – Tips on the Craft

Writing Works
by S.A. Battaglia

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If you’re like me, you’ve had the goal of finishing a book “someday” for longer than you’d care to admit. While I believe the more you learn up-front, the smoother the process will be, it’s also true that writing a book is like having a child: the timing will never be perfect. Eventually, you just have to do it and learn what you don’t know along the way. The advantage you have with writing over child-rearing is this incredible thing called revision.

Revision is the editing phase that takes place after you’ve completed your first draft. The exception is if you feel so stuck that you want to workshop what you’ve got to move beyond it. Workshopping is an excellent solution for: you don’t know what you don’t know. Eventually you’ll learn to do what Stephen King does and commit to a writing pace that allows you to out-write your doubt.

OK, so Stephen King writes 2,000 words-a-day when he’s working on a novel—return-of-Jesus being his only exception. But guess what? Stephen King has enough money to make writing books his primary focus. Most of us can’t live like Kings yet. What we can do is figure out what’s realistic and commit to it.

Consistency is key. Whether it’s 1,000 words-a-day (what King recommends starting at), 500 words-a-day, or 250 words-a-day, find what you can do and do it. Writing every day is like working a muscle. You don’t want to jump in too hard and burnout (or pull something). Do that and you won’t stand the thought of getting back to it for so long that your story—your characters—will rust.

Start somewhere. Start today. Don’t wait for conditions to be perfect, because they never will be. But, if you see if you see it through, you just might find that conditions improve. Then even more focus can be devoted to book #2!

Pace yourself and build your word goal up over time. Eventually, the occasional TV show might not be as exciting as hitting that target for the day (that’s where I’m at. It took a while). Once you get going, don’t look back. Looking back is what the editing phase is about. Until then, let go and let it flow.

Happy writing! Cheers.

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*All information regarding Stephen King’s writing is from his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, which I highly recommend.