With all of the pressure about a daily word count for accountability (for ourselves or to share), I’m relieved to know that I have a particular writing style that’s not concerned with that. I’m a spurt writer. I can go for days writing pages and chapters in clusters, tweeting my word count figures with pride, and then shut down. Life can take over or I’ll just need a break and my characters need to regroup before they can reveal what happens next. (I’m a pantser too. I jot things down as I think of them – when I’m writing my piece or during the breaks, simply so I don’t forget!) Thanks much for this post!
My thankful and most grateful words to Ruth, in the comments section of the blog she shares with fellow author Anne R. Allen. I have been following their blog for years and in every single post, they manage to touch base on something that’s crossed my mind with regards to writing and I’m left satisfied. I comment often and I’m always honored when they respond with an encouraging reply. In last week’s post, “SPEED KILLS…OR DOES IT? How to Write Fast(er) without Going Bonkers”, Ruth honed in on the necessity of speed to get the work out, but also the need to understand one’s own pacing and how we shouldn’t always measure ours against others.
Writers have been encouraged to manage a specific daily word count to keep track of productivity. When we reach or exceed those words, we seek out fellow writers online and in writing groups and in workshop for the high-fives, pats on the back, and overall cheers to keep going. When we don’t make the mark some days, the sullen, gut-wrenching feelings of worthlessness as a “write-tuh” may come out. I know those moments.
They arrive after experiencing consecutive days of cranking out over a thousand words for a piece to which I’m dedicated and then reaching several days in a row when I’m lucky to get any words down at all for it. So, yes, I do write in spurts, then I take a break. I guess I need to step back and/or the characters may need to do the same – a mutual dance. We need time away to be clear with each other. Luckily, they don’t tune me out completely. Until I’m settled back at my desk with them fully in mind, I’m left with scribble on plenty of post-it notes and backs of envelopes.
When I’m all in with my characters and my fingers are rolling over the keyboard, I’m pleased with myself; on those other days where I’m either staring at a wall struggling to hear them or doing other work that’s taken me from them, I feel like I’m not just failing me, but also my work.
Thankfully, Ruth made me realize there’s no need to beat myself up about any of it. Just keep writing! As she noted, we have different pacing styles that she’s named. Taking them into consideration should knock off some pressure to produce daily:
ID your working style: steady, spurt, sprint.
- Sprinters can’t (and shouldn’t) expect to keep up a killer place all day long. Sprints are short races for a reason. No one can go full steam ahead hour after hour after hour.
- Spurt workers tend to write in extremely productive bursts. They also need a few days off to regroup and catch up with themselves between intense writing sessions.
- Steady writers work at an even pace. A hundred words a day or a thousand words a day every day, those words add up.
Once you ID your working style, you will have an idea of how many words/how much speed you should realistically expect from yourself but, before you start, you need to have some idea of what you’re going to write.
Since she’s a self-proclaimed “spurt writer”, too, I realized I’m in great company. She’s got several books under her belt! She still gets them out! I’d always thought we were all to be “sprinters”. But I’m not and I can’t be – not all of the time. The definition of my style has calmed me down. It’s merely how I work. It doesn’t tell me that I’m not a proficient and worthy writer. It reminds me that I am.
Ruth’s blog post (among others!), SPEED KILLS…OR DOES IT? How to Write Fast(er) without Going Bonkers, is definitely worth a read and one to keep in the encouragement arsenal as a reminder to pace thyself.
Writers: Which style moves you? Do share!
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