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Thursday, May 20, 2010

How Many Pages Did You Write Today?

I saw this question posted on Facebook this week. Around 20 writers responded with anything from 3 to 30 pages, while quite a few bemoaned the fact they hadn't written any - and hated themselves (and the other writers) for it!

Do you agonize over your daily page count?

You really shouldn't.

It's not the page count, or the word count that matters. It's turning up that's important. As long as you're there, writing or intending to write every day, you'll do fine.

Writing success is a long term proposition. If you're a newbie and you want to make a career out of writing, think in terms of five years. From now till then. That's about right.

Writing is actually the easy bit compared to forging a paying lifestyle at it.

I know that in this Internet Age, everyone wants fast results and instant success but deep down we all know that's not how it works.

Success takes commitment. Being able to write for a living requires effort over the long term. Writing every day is a habit you need to foster.

And it's not just the writing.

I find it curious that writers who post their daily word count to the Net seem primarily focussed on new writing - fresh pages as it were. Whereas every seasoned writer knows that every hour spent writing new fiction usually requires anything from 3 to 10 hours revising and editing - the real writer's work.

Most everyone can write - but it takes extra dedication, skill and study of the art to be a writer - as in a real contender for success.

The Internet is an amazing thing, yes. We all have access to information that even just twenty years ago would have taken us an age to find - and use.

But absorbing that information is what takes time. It may take a writer twenty years to accept a simple truth he 'knew' but had refused to believe until the time it dawned on him as 'true'.

I've seen this phenomenon a thousand times.

Sure, I can teach you how to write a novel in 30 days.

Yes, I can teach you how to write a screenplay for Hollywood.

But it's what you do with that information that counts - how you let it change who you are, and how you alter your approach to writing - and constantly improve yourself in the process.

By all means work hard getting pages of writing out every day, but also spend a few moments daily assessing your goals, seeing what you do in context, and making commitments to staying the course.

If you only write 200 words a day, that's about the length of a novel over the course of a year. And that's fine - as long as you take the long view.

There's no hurry for the career writer.

My partner and I write every day. It's not a competition to us. It's just something we do.

Okay, so I wish sometimes there were clones of me that I could set to write this or edit that. Sometimes I wonder about bending time so that more hours were somehow available to me during the day.

But hey, that ain't gonna happen.

I have to take the long view. That if I want a piece of writing to be right and good, it will take time.

And if it takes a day, a week or a year, that's okay.

Doing your best is what matters.

And turning up, as Woody Allen once said, is 99% of success.

Keep writing!

Rob at Home
rob@easywaytowrite.com
Your Success is My Concern

The Easy Way to Write
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The Easy Way to Write

Welcome to the official blog of the Easy Way to Write from Rob Parnell, updated weekly - sometimes more often!