Friday, 25 September 2009


(Where WC = word count, D = discipline, E = effort, Di = distractions)

The really observant among you will notice a definite inertia in the figure over there on the left. This last month or so my word count has been rising as quickly as a drunk lover without Viagra. The reasons for this are many and varied. Some are of my own making, others not. One of the processes I love most about writing is the re-writing, the surgical removal of flab, taking a scalpel to adverbs, tightening the whole thing up – it’s the editor in me. I can agonise for hours over one sentence; perhaps poetry is my calling. (Those of you who’ve ever read one of my poems can stop rolling around on the floor in laughter.) And come the end of the day, despite devoting most of it to my WIP, there ain’t no more words to show; indeed, sometimes there are fewer.

My point is one of discipline. Of setting a daily or weekly word count and sticking to it. In this sense I’ve broken my own rule. It’s fine to set aside some time for editing, tinkering, but not at the expense of actually writing. Be precious at the end, when Draft One is beyond adolescence, virtually an adult. Remember the analogy of the first draft being a sculptor’s block of ice, which is then ready to be worked on. Just bang the bloody words out.


Amber Tidd Murphy said...

Well said. I long to become more of a word banger-outer.

I do the same thing, lingering over every line.

Distractions = reading blogs instead of writing. I am awesome in this department.

Fia said...

All the time I'm writing the last 30k, I'm thinking of ways to improve the first 50k.

Not a good way to work.

TOM J VOWLER said...

Fia, that's a great position to be in. 50k, you're flying.

Yes, Amber, I resent those banger-outerers.

Caught an interview with Julie Myerson which had some good advice. Just give/commit to 5 mins every day for writing new material. 5 minutes is nothing. Easy. And what happens is, you always end up doing more. So edit, revise, read blogs, be distracted...but commit to that 5 minutes every day.