Monday, January 17, 2011

Writing every day

Do you write every day? I mean, really write, not revise, or plot, or draft query letters?

I don't. Even now, when I'm in the midst of a new draft, I have to spend some days figuring out what happens next. Plus, I like to keep busy with other writing things, blog posts, critiquing friends' writing, studying craft. Recently I've been drafting a lot of query letters.

But I've discovered I'm much happier when I write every day. After all, what I love most about writing is storytelling, visiting new worlds, inhabiting new characters. Revising, plotting, and especially drafting query letters, just isn't the same thing. For me, too much non-writing work sucks the joy out of an activity I truly love.

So lately I've been thinking about daily writing exercises. Am I crazy?

In my mind, writing exercises are like, well, exercise. How many people want to take time out of their day to go to a sweaty gym, lift weights and do sit ups? I've always thought I got plenty of writing practice from my works in progress. I didn't want to waste time in the writing equivalent of the gym.

However, I recently read that Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff started the short story blog Merry Sisters of Fate to give themselves a writing venue that wasn't high stakes, but was still a regular place to play with stories.

Maybe my writing routine needs a bit more playtime.

Do you write every day? Do you wish you did? How do you feel about writing exercises?

16 comments:

  1. I love when I am in the writing groove. I find I can settle into writing faster each day, when I have been writing regularly. When I've had a break it takes me a while to find the groove.

    Lately my life is conspiring against all things creative, with the latest ploy being a sick kidlet. :-( I don't forsee much writing in my day today - I'll be happy if I get my usual Monday blog post up.

    Elisbeth

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  2. Meant to add (the interwebs ate my first post and I had to retype it) that I've enjoyed the Merry Sisters of Fate site for a long time! So much fun.

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  3. I don't write everyday. I wish I did, but sometimes I'm so tired.

    I tried to do a writing exercise yesterday. It was a busy day and I wanted to put something down on paper, but I felt stuck. I feel most natural writing a novel, rather than a short piece.

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  4. I do get to the writing part of my life every day, but I don't do the "really write" writing every day. I'm not sure I want to. I like the various stages of writing: research, drafting, revising, etc. I'm all for more playtime with my writing, though. I seem to have lost that.

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  5. I don't write everyday but I do think about my story everyday and for me, it helps and it counts. I like to go through back story and figure out the behind the scenes stuff in my head first before I start writing the story. It seems that the more I know the characters and their lives, the easier it is to write the story with out it being forced or flat. Also, when I'm writing a chapter I will take time to just think about the scene that I'm about to write. I imagine myself in the characters shoes; what is around me, how do I feel? What matters, what's bothering me? what am I thinking. All the touch, feel, smell sound and taste details. I put the scene in slow motion and jump inside the characters head. Sometimes I'll do that for more than one character.

    I do like writing exercises, but if I'm working on a project, I prefer the exercise to help me build upon my current WIP.

    Fun post!

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  6. I think there is real value in structured exercises - I've always wished for a writing equivalent of Illustration Friday - http://illustrationfriday.com/about_p.php
    Maybe we should set one up, Anne!

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  7. Elisabeth: That's exactly how I feel about writing--so much easier (and more fun) when it's regular. Hope your kid feels better soon!

    I've never actually read Merry Sisters of Fate... I don't tend to read stories online, but I'm thinking I should give it a go!

    Medeia: Of course time is such an issue! If I we all had all the time in the world, all of our writing processes would probably look different! I struggle with that with writing exercises too. Sometimes they just don't feel like the type of thing I'd write, and it's hard to figure out how to make them my own.

    Andrea: Yes. Maybe it's not even the actual writing I need so much as something playful with my writing. Good to know others feel that way, too.

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  8. Thanks for stopping by, Christy! You seem to have such a good understanding of your process. Do you write all your ideas down as you think about them, or do you just keep everything in your head? I think for me the writing helps ground all the ideas in my head, conscious and unconscious.

    Regina: You're tempting me! Let's have a think about something! But I'm not sure I'd want to post any raw writing online.

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  9. I want to get into the habit of writing every day. Hopefully once I get into the routine of my new job I'll be able to organise a time to write every day as part of that routine. Here's hoping!

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  10. Here's hoping indeed, Rachael! Good luck (and congrats on the new job!). I think that's one of the hardest things, not only finding the time, but establishing a routine that works for you.

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  11. I find that I do write "something" everyday but it may not end in up in a completed project. I'm happier when I can spend time with what I'm most passionate about.

    As for writing exercise? No, you're not crazy! One of my completed novels was sparked by a simple writing exercise. You never know!

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  12. Today was going to be the day I got in four hours of writing time: two in the morning, two in the evening. Well...I managed Morning Pages, snow shoveling, an exercise walk, about two hours of paying work...and then the towel rack fell off the bathroom wall and I decided to take a nap because...it's still snowing. I have at least another hour of bend-scoop-lift-and-toss ahead of me.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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  13. I know everyone says you're supposed to write every day, but I totally think all the rest counts too. Research, which can throw up new ideas. Revising and editing often leads to rewriting or writing new scenes too. And I get stuck or write rubbish if I don't know where I'm going, so just planning and plotting is very important for me. Sometimes you need to take time out to just let ideas percolate.

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  14. Karen: Oh, that's the answer I was hoping for! =) I keep trying to tell myself that writing exercises aren't completely wasted time if one sparks something. Do you do them regularly? I think I need to get more into a mode of working like yours, where I'm at least doing some writing every day.

    Anne: Four hours is such a huge hunk of time. I find just sitting still that long is a struggle, let alone when there's things that need doing (or things I'd rather be doing than sitting still... =) ).

    Girl Friday: That's so true about letting ideas percolate. And I try to do that, too. But for me personally, I think I get bored when I'm not writing every day, so maybe I need to make time for thinking, as well as writing, every day. I don't know, still trying to get my head around this. But a good reminder that it all still "counts"!

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  15. This isn't about creative writing necessarily... but since I have to do a lot of writing for work I've found that it really does help to sit there and make yourself do it. Even if it's not brilliant, at least it's something, and the more days I do that the easier it is. A writing assignment is the best way for me to remember all of the other things I need to do, but once I talk myself into doing it I find that it's easier than I thought it was.

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  16. So true, Licia: "A writing assignment is the best way for me to remember all of the other things I need to do." Hah! =)

    But you're right, of course. I always start writing before breakfast, email, etc., and that's usually the most productive bit of my day. And then I can feel good about myself if I have knocked out a few words.

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