I have recently started writing my new novel, out in December, 2013, and I am writing 2,000 words a day.
If I don’t reach 10,000 words by Saturday night, I don’t go to bed until it’s done.
Yes, I’ve had some very late, head banging Saturday nights.
This is how I’ve written all my books. Some nights I write more than 2,000 words. Yesterday I wrote 3,400 words. My end of week count for this week was a total of 13,800 words – the story was in my head, I watched it like a movie, and wrote it down.
Other times getting to 10,000 words is a total slog, replete with pits and ravines and literary snakes.
I usually don’t let myself write less than 2,000 words a night unless a foot falls off or I’m run over by a peacock.
Neither has ever happened, so I write those 2,000 words.
You might be thinking: That sounds like torture.
And: Why 2,000 a day?
One reason for the 2,000 words is that I have a lot deadlines so I gotta plan for them.
But most importantly is that 2,000 words a day drops you into your story and leaves you there. You’re taking a swan dive straight in.
You have to let things flow in your story, and 2,000 words lets out the flow. Writing to that word count gives you time to think about your main characters. You can dig into them, hear them whispering or shouting, and watch their antics as a silent observer.
You can give them bizarre family and wild friends or cutting enemies, and those characters can start to develop into the disagreeable, flimsy, awkward, overly cheerful people they are.
You can get to know your characters’ challenges and threats and problems, too. You can move things right along, and pace the story naturally with long passages, shorts ones, medium sized, and back around again, as you feel it needs.
As you’re writing straight through, you can throw in setting and weather, or some sensory stuff, but don’t get too hung up on that, if at all. Most importantly, keep writing. It’s rough and it’s smooth writing all at the same time. Rough because it’s a draft, smooth because you can let the story grow organically based on the emotional guts and cores of the characters.
If you write only 100 words a day, or 200, not only will your book take foooorrrever, but that small amount of writing doesn’t allow you to feel the characters. It doesn’t give you time to cry with them, laugh, dance, see their flaws and weakness, their strengths, their past or their future. It doesn’t give them time to flesh out or tell you their secrets.
It’s hardly getting started at all with your story – and then you quit.
Those first few hundreds are hard, but then you’re there. The story is 3-D in your head. Be patient with yourself. Be determined. Focus.
You have to set goals if you want to succeed here, and you have to stick to the goals, no matter how hard. You have to work in a progressive, efficient way, towards the end, no matter how you want to scream, don’t kid yourself on that one or that darn book won’t ever be done.
Is the thought of writing 2,000 words a day intimidating? It can be. Do it anyhow. Break it up. 1000 in the morning, 250 at lunch, 750 at night. 500, 500, 500, 500. Do you want to get a book done or not?
Don’t edit when you’re writing the initial 2,000 words, either. I’ve heard of writers trying to write perfectly the first time around. I can’t even imagine trying this. Great writing needs great editing. Great editing needs more great editing.
I edit all my books at least eight times before I even send it off to my editor the first time around.
If I submitted one of my books after I’d edited it only two times, it would be total crap. Truly. Total crap.
The problem with trying to write the perfect book the first time around, or to even think your book could be perfect after the first edit, or the second, is that that will never happen (Unless you are extremely, extremely talented. I am not. Therefore, editing is my friend).
In addition, trying to be perfect the first time around is like walking around with a wooden block on your creative juices in your head. It’s like writing with one of those red pens in your head that your teacher used to use on your essays.
It’s too much negative, too much pressure, too much criticism. It restricts you and your creativity. It ties those characters down to what YOU want them to do. It puts a boa constrictor around the potential fullness of the story. Keep away from those boa constrictors!
Write straight through the story. Put XXX where you have questions about anything – characters, their past, motivations, historical facts, medical issues, etc. You can come back to that later.
Keep a lot of dialogue in your story as you’re writing those 2,000 words, too. Dialogue moves a story along. Dialogue will let your characters out to breathe. It will let your characters speak their minds.
You’ll start to hear their voices, intonations, anger, worries, fears, insecurities, how they respond to people, the conversations they initiate or are too scared to initiate.
Dialogue opens up your characters for you to play with and explore – and that’s what your story is about, your characters.
Keep writing. Keep imagining and daydreaming.
2,000 words a day.
That’s what I do.
No matter how torturous it is.