Feb. 27th, 2014

dira: Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Default)
February 27 - [personal profile] montanaharper asked me to write about writing, with very little other direction.

So this seems like a good time to talk about all the directedness that gets me through my writing process.

There is this piece of advice every writer gives about how the best way to get better as a writer, and to accomplish a lot as a writer, is to write every day. I have known that for a long time; anytime since I was twelve, if you had asked me, I could have parroted that advice to you. But somehow up until a few years ago I thought that didn't apply to me because... I had an irregular work schedule? I don't have good luck with waking up early and trying to force myself to write before work? I'm not a Serious Writer? I don't know. But a few years ago I realized that that piece of advice applies to me, too. I haven't achieved true regularity in my writing--I can't really bear to give up online chatting time for it, so I kind of cram it in here and there--but I try a lot harder than I used to.

One of the ways in which I try hard is this:

My spreadsheet. )

This is my spreadsheet that tracks how much I write each day, by story, and checks the total against my goals for the month (if any--some months there's no particular goal). I hate seeing zeroes and blanks there, and it allows me to see, at a glance, how well I'm doing with writing more or less every day, and how much I'm scattering my efforts across different projects. The month I finished The Boy and the Beast is an almost unbroken vertical column of putting in words on the same story day after day after day; this month I am, ah, less focused.

Another thing that keeps me writing is the wonder of phone timers and random number generators; I can get really easily paralyzed by choosing among options, which is not a great match with my tendency to be working on a handful of stories at once. But lately I have gotten into the habit of making myself a to do list that includes the top-priority stories I'm currently working on (and sometimes a wildcard Write - other option so I can get my hookerfic on) and I select what I'm going to do by random number generator, and then set myself a timer and work on it for twenty minutes--I am in fact writing this post in a twenty-minute timed session after the random number generator told me it was time to work on writing a journal entry. :)

I think this is partly a reflection of the fact that a lot of my writing is long projects where I just have to put in the time, day after day after day for months before I have something I can show off--it's very rare for me to have a story where I just have an idea and, whoosh, write the story, and there it is. I do it from time to time, but the stuff that I really think of as the core of my writing is long stories, and those take a certain amount of discipline and structure to see through, and so that's what I have learned to do, despite my easily distracted nature.

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