Writing, Motivation, and Exercise

Sometimes, writing is like going to the gym. The end result is you feel great but getting there, whether to the gym or sitting with hands poised over the keyboard, is the hard part. It’s so easy to make excuses and believe me, I can come up with some doozies (even after I’ve exhausted the semi-real ones). But, eventually, I sit myself down and get it done. And there is no better feeling than knocking out a couple of chapters and getting excited about the rest of the story. However, discipline in writing, as with exercise, remains a challenge.

I’ve read many stories of writers who say they can’t go a day without writing. Frankly, I’m not sure I know any of those people but if I did, I would probably ask them, “Why?” Yes, I know that sounds blasphemous but I mean it. I love writing. I would rather write than be doing any other job I can think of but I don’t want to do it everyday. I need to step away on the weekend and on vacations and just various times with family. How do these writers manage to write every single day? Do they ever take a break? I admire them and their dedication but for me, it’s just unrealistic. However, there is no doubt I could use some improvement in my writing discipline.

David Gaughran recently mentioned in his blog, Let’s Get Digital, that he was not a fast writer and admitted one of his goals for 2012 was to increase his daily wordcount. To do that, he set a goal of 60,000 words during the month of February. I truly admire his resolve but I know I cannot average 2,000 words a day. Excuses? Oh, I have plenty, but that’s not the reason I can’t do it. I just believe that if I am going to become more consistent and disciplined in my writing, I have to make small changes, not massive ones. First, I have resolved to write every weekday (unless I’m on vacation, of course). I also set a minimum of 500 words per day. I know it’s not high, only about 10,000 words to Mr. Gaughran’s 60,000, but I have to start somewhere. Previously, my wordcount totals have been more or less erratic. I might write 3,000-4,000 words one day and then let freelance assignments and deadlines distract me for days on end. Then when I return to the work, I waste time getting back into the place and story. Sound familiar?

The bottom line is a writer has to be self-motivated. So, how often and how much do you write? How do you stay motivated? What are your writing goals? Whether you’re like me and need to take baby steps or have already achieved your writing goals, I’d love to hear about your journey! Now, if only I could get more consistent about going to the gym…

Published by K.L. Murphy

Author of Her Sister's Death and The Detective Cancini Mysteries

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