But enough about you…

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Archive for the ‘Screenwriting’ Category

Write every day

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I finished a novel last November, got some really nice notes back from both agents who would be my top choices if one of them (eventually, hopefully) decides to take me on as a client. I’ve spent the past half year rewriting to those notes and I’m about to send the manuscript out again. If the agents aren’t wild about it this time I’ll probably ePublish at Smashwords or go directly to the Apple, Kindle and Nook stores. Because I’m wild about it, and the few readers who have given me feedback are wild about it, and I want to get it out there. Whether it’s traditional publishing or ePublishing, I should have my YA novel out sometime soon. So I’ve decided to switch my blog over to writing about writing, starting with my basic philosophy of putting words on the page.

A classic instrument of fine writing, on which you could write your one page a day.

I have friends who are successful writers, and I’m not sure how they manage things because I haven’t asked. My impression is that some of them work on bursts of inspiration and others put their head down every day for a specified time and bull out what they can.

But for me, the only way I can get anything done is to have one simple rule: write every day.

I don’t have a specific time or place where I write. I don’t have a favorite pencil (mostly I write on my laptop). I don’t have a routine because the other pressures on my time don’t allow it. But at the end of the day, I don’t go to bed unless I’ve written at least one page of something. It might be one page of screenplay, one page of a novel, or a page of a one-act play. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I write a page. Every day. No matter what.

If you set the bar low enough, it’s tough to fail. And that’s why it works for me. Lots of small successes pile up to a finished work. Once you experience failure, it’s tougher to face the blank page knowing you failed at it yesterday, so my writing rule allows me to skirt failure by redefining success as something not much harder than getting out of bed and scratching out a few words. It’s sort of succeeding downward; placing the target so close you could hit it with a potato chip (go ahead, see how far you can throw a potato chip).

It’s like an exercise program. If you run every day, then being in shape becomes a habit. Sounds simple, but the psychology is pretty complex. I know, because I’ve spent most of my life running to stay in shape and I know what happens when you let your running program slip. What happens is you no longer feel like you own it. You think about putting on your running shorts and shoes and heading down the road alone, and it feels like something you used to do, or something other people do, but not something you do anymore. It feels foreign. But if you get up and run, even a half mile, each day, you’ll start to look forward to it. Stretch your run a bit, even if you have to walk a little, and you’re on your way. it’s part of your day. It’s what you are. You’re a runner.

So skip emptying the dishwasher if that’s what it takes. Stay up an extra half hour. Mow the lawn tomorrow. Decide that your one page a day is just as important as responding to every e-mail, and far more important that gaming or Facebook or keeping up with the news. One page a day is a a novel in a year. It’s 3 to 4 screenplays in a year. It’s any number of one-act plays, short stories or novellas. Little successes pile up and become finished manuscripts, and finished manuscripts make you a write. It all starts with writing that one page a day.

Written by Alan

August 28th, 2012 at 2:35 pm