As authors, we all know that our craft is part inspiration and part discipline. Inspiration is the fun part — those wonderful ideas and words that flow into our heads when we are writing, daydreaming, walking, or doing absolutely nothing. We all love it when just the right phrasing or fragment of dialogue strikes us. (How many times have I rushed out of the shower to write down the perfectly crafted sentence before I forgot it?)
But what about those days when words are not flowing and inspiration seems distant? What happens when you don’t even want to sit down at the keyboard because you know you will stare at a blank screen without typing a word?
That’s when the discipline of writing takes over. Many authors have written about overcoming writer’s block. My favorite method is the “100 Words a Day” plan. (I think I developed it on my own, but if I subconsciously took all or part of the idea from someone else, then I sincerely apologize for not giving the author credit. Please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email and correct my ignorance! No matter who came up with the plan, it works for me.)
The plan is pretty simple. Each day, I make a commitment to sit down and write 100 words of fiction. I can write more than that, of course (and I usually do), but the important thing is to write at least 100 words. It doesn’t have to be great writing or even mediocre writing, but the 100 words must be part of an original work of fiction. If I miss a day because of circumstances beyond my control (like family emergencies), then I have to write at least 200 words the next day. (It doesn’t work the other way, in case you are wondering — I can’t write 500 words one day and then skip the next four days. The point is to discipline myself to write each day.)
It’s very easy to write 100 words — I had already written 100 words in this blog post before I finished the first two paragraphs. Word processing programs usually give a word count, so on those days when writing is particularly difficult, I know when I am nearing the finish line.
Once you have established that discipline, you can even try gradually increasing the daily word count. I currently write at least 500 words a day. However, increasing the minimum number of words is not critical. The most important part is to discipline yourself to write each day. Don’t worry about how good or bad those 100 words might be. If they are garbage, you can always rewrite them later.
That’s all for this blog today. I still have 500 words of fiction to write!