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
Your Success is My Concern

The Easy Way to Write

Tempus Fugit

Vin Smith has a spot in the Guinness Book of Records for being the first ever night-time DJ. We've been friends for a long time in Internet terms - years - and we're both great supporters of writers and the issues they face in terms of self promotion and career management.

This is a preamble to announce Vin Smith's new website. He's still heavily involved in radio and PR - and encourages writers to use their own voice to tell potential readers about their work. Go visit. It's a great resource for writers with there's lots to see.

I lost a day this week. Yesterday I was under the impression it was Wednesday (it's Friday today). Robyn had to battle to right me of this misconception last night until I eventually had to accept I'd lost a whole twenty four hours.

I'm not sure how this happened. I have my writing week so carefully mapped out these days.

I worked on Magellan Books last weekend and all day Monday - perhaps a little of Tuesday. Two new books came out. No problem.

I spent a day somewhere in the week editing my latest novel again - after Robyn had done an edit/proof run through. She'd made notes on where she thought I needed to tighten up a couple of logic inconsistencies. Fixed those, hopefully.

Oh yeah, I spent around half a day sending out hard-copy editions of my Easy Writing books - which sold out - had to go round to the printer and get some more done because I'd run out.

I designed a two page promotional flier for a Writing Academy mail-out - and fixed up my database of Australian subscribers.

Plus of course I spent many hours answering the constant stream of emails that go with having a high profile Net presence...

But I still felt I had a spare day - Thursday - to get some other things done. Only to discover I'd lost it. It's now Friday, newsletter day - and I feel like I've slipped feel through some time wormhole.

Or perhaps I fell asleep on Tuesday and woke up thirty six hours later, missing a complete day. Don't think so. I'm sure Robyn would have mentioned it.

The subtlety of this sense of loss may not strike you as a big deal but to me, it's a little unsettling.

I know they say time flies (tempus fugit) when you're having fun but a whole day?

All I can think is that I must be so absorbed in my work that I literally don't know what day it is.

Do you get like this?

I didn't think I was the type.

I remember once when I was musician living on a houseboat in Chelsea. I was between record deals and I decided I needed a new batch of songs to play to a music publisher friend (the famous Don Black's son).

Much to the chagrin of my then girlfriend I literally locked myself into my recording studio on the boat (not quite as glamorous as it sounds) and didn't come out until I had five new songs composed and recorded. I lost track of time then because there was no natural light in my recording studio - and no clock.

I emerged after a week looking like Robinson Crusoe, thinking I'd been there perhaps two days and it was in fact a week later. But that made sense to me. I'd simply got so involved that time didn't matter.

Plus I used to live on alcohol and chips in those days so I rarely had any normal routines to punctuate the day. I wonder now why my GF didn't come to check on me...

No matter. Rock chicks are probably more used to eccentricities than your average housewife.

But that only happened once. They were great songs by the way and got me a deal with EMI. So it was worth it.

But now I like to pride myself on being way more organized and mature about hard work.

I have lists of things to do, schedules and calendars - not to mention hour by hour rituals that I like to work to...

So what happened this week?

Who knows?

Perhaps I'm just going senile. Can that happen at forty two?

Come to think of it, maybe I've lost a few years somewhere and haven't yet realized.

I could be eighty two and not know it!

Just like the old proverb that says you're as old as the partner you feel, I think for writers it could be you're as old as your characters.

My latest protagonist is fifteen.

Maybe that's it. I'm going through a second adolescence - and a carefree sense that time doesn't matter because I have my whole life ahead of me.

I hope so.

Because I've got a lot more to get written - and at least another lifetime's worth of stories!

Keep writing!

(c) Rob Parnell