Time to fess up!!!

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Here is a question for all my fellow writers, both published like myself, and those who just love to write for the sheer joy of doing so. How many hours do you spend writing each day and how many words does it involve?

Ever since I changed the way I write from how I used to in decades long since past, when I would spend all day and long into the night to achieve a daily word count in the thousands, I now stick rigidly to a short but extremely intense daily session when I have a new story in mind.

I find this is the method that works best for me. If you are wondering how long; these days I limit myself to adding no more than one to two hundred words per day.

Once I get back into the swing of things, I start writing at five in the morning, finishing promptly at eight am. I find that to continue beyond that three hour working window of 100% concentration, means that silly errors will inevitably begin to creep in due to my state of total mental exhaustion by the end of each session. The rest of the day is taken up with a lot of thought about where the story wants me to go next while I carry on with my normal daily activities.

Years ago when I was still in the workforce I used to spend two to three hours writing each night from Monday until Friday. Then on the weekends I would write for twelve hours on both days. On public holidays the number of hours sometimes stretched from twelve to eighteen. While to the novice, endlessly pouring out words might seem to be the only way to write a story, trust me when I tell you it isn’t!

In fact its often the worst possible way of going about it. If you don’t believe me, just look at the hundreds of thousands of poorly written books out there by writers who convinced themselves that high daily word counts is the only way to go. A daily three hour session is by far the best way from my point of view.

I would love to hear how you go about it, but I know most of you are reluctant to own up. There is absolutely no excuse for you not joining in here. You never know, you might even gain some useful ideas and tips on the subject from one another. So leave your thoughts for others to read as comments below this post.

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40 thoughts on “Time to fess up!!!

  1. Pingback: Time to fess up!!! | Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

  2. I am not sure that one can draw a comparison between story writing and the composition of poetry (the latter being my main focus). I often spend an hour or so (prior to going into the office writing in the morning. If time arises during my lunch break I will sometimes write. Then, on returning home in the evening (assuming I’m not socialising with friends) an hour or so is devoted to writing. I spend much longer during weekends writing, but the amount of time spent depends on social commitments etc. I don’t keep everything I write and will sometimes delete drafts, particularly when tiredness has a hold on me and prevents me giving of my best. Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I specially like your early morning timetable, though I usually don’t start til 6.00 myself, especially in the winter. I find it easier to write in the morning before the day’s tasks take over one’s attention. And a routine is helpful for overcoming that reluctance to write that hits everyone some time or other.

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  4. I have tried writing to a word count and timed writing, and both work for me. Right now I’m working on a story that is requiring me to pull back and do more planning first, so I spend as much time as I need to get down the ideas for the scenes I have in my head. The rest of the time I spend marketing, updating social media, and doing my daytime thing.

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  5. Everyone has his method and rhythm, I suppose. I published (traditionally) 38 books without ever doing a daily word count. I also didn’t have a fixed writing schedule or time table. I wrote when the spirit took me by the throat, and sometimes it took her hours to strangle me, sometimes fifteen minutes…. :-). Looking back, I don’t understand where all these novels came from…One thing is sure: they were given to me…In those novels, I’m much smarter than in everyday life…. πŸ™‚ That’s why I feel so dumb now: I have stopped writing…. πŸ™‚

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  6. I am living proof that ‘waiting’ means never. When the inclination occurs it is easily overcome by waiting but a few seconds. I do have writer friends who live to say how many words they wrote in a day. Somehow it seems important to them but I have always been more for the story, the happening of the moment. Aiming for a certain number of words seems a clumsy way of telling a story.

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  7. As I don’t really write novels, I don’t feel the need to limit myself to time or wordcount… so I write pretty much all day, before work and after. On the other hand, I agree with you that when a major writing project is underway, you often get further faster by apparently going slower.

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  8. I literally write in every available block of time. I have no idea of my word count or the exact time, because at the computer I catch up with blogs – as I am doing right this minute – look at pictures and messages from friends and family abroad …. then back to Microsoft word. I could be acually at my novel, or my blog or wriitng a piece for writers’ group tomorrow. Away from my little writer’s eerie I am thinking what to write while cooking, walking etc!
    I do try and participate in real life; I don’t say, ‘… can’t come out to dinner, babysit, watch that serial etc – have to write…’

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Good question, Jack. I do live with constant pain and PTSD issues, so I write when I can and have learned to empathize with my writer self when I can’t — which is much of the time. Before that little matter of the injuries from a car accident, however, I would likely have replied: “I write feverishly when an idea strikes, and not at all until the next idea strikes”. People who write every day would have been regarded as demi-gods, to be admired from a distance.

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  10. I am the same as you, Jack. 3 hours a day works for me, whether it is a week day or a weekend day. I also write early in the mornings. I don’t always get in 3 hours on work days. Most days it is more like 90 minutes but I also find writing mentally fatiguing and can’t do hugely long stretches. A great post.

    Liked by 1 person

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