Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Motivation and making excuses

It seems like one of the most common threads of discussion among writers is how to stay motivated. It can be hard. I fail at it myself. However, there are a few things that you can do to keep yourself going.

For me, I think one of the biggest things that helps keep me on pace is one very simple tip:

A novel is much larger than a sentence.

When I think of a novel and writing one, it is difficult to get past the scope of what I am doing. No matter how I look at it, the idea of undertaking a novel is enormous. You cannot sit down and write a completed novel in a day.

Really. I don't think it is statistically possible. Maybe if you were superman.

For those interested, you would have to write 2083 words an hour (34 words a minute) for 24 hours. Without stop. Maybe a very fast typer could manage it, but the whole lack of sleep and plot bunnies thing would probably prevent a successful completion. If you have managed 50k in 24 hours, however, I'd be interested to hear from you. What color would you like your shrine in? :)

I stray.

The point remains that the average person cannot write a novel in a day. However, the average person *can* write a sentence in a day. In fact, I would hazard that most people could write a sentence every few minutes, if they were really interested in doing so. Enough people manage to write many sentences in a few minutes on twitter.

Do not view your novel as a novel. If you have trouble maintaining your motivation when you consider your novel, view it as a connected series of sentences. Sit down, every single morning, and tell yourself the following:

Today I will write one sentence.

Sit down and write one sentence. Sometimes, just sometimes, that one sentence can bloom into several sentences. Time twists and warps, as your fingers settle into the steady rhythm of typing. Because you sat down with the goal of writing one sentence, you may find an hour has passed you by, and your moment of dedication evolved into something much better than a moment.

Do not tell yourself "I cleaned, I edited, I walked the dog. I took care of the children. Maybe I will find time tomorrow to write.

Do not push off to tomorrow what you can do today. If you have enough time to log onto twitter, check your saved searches, see who messaged you and respond, you have enough time to sit down and write your sentence.

The only person you fail is yourself. The instant you have time to go to a website like twitter, visit my blog, or go to facebook, you have enough time to write a single sentence.

After all, the greatest stories of all times began with a single sentence.

The only person that you fail when you choose twitter or facebook or a blog is yourself.

I wrote 2846 words so far today. That is many sentences.

It all started with one.

Stop viewing your novel as a novel, and start viewing it as a sentence that happens to have a lot of other siblings. Are you stuck? Don't think of the plot. Think of the next sentence. If you are still stuck, write something -- anything -- onto the page.

Even if it is something as simple as:

"I can do this."

Excuses hurt you and do not define your character as a writer. The difference between an author and a writer is quite simple:

The Author didn't make excuses.

They corrected what they were doing wrong, sat down at their computers or typewriters, and wrote their sentences.

You can do it, if you stop making excuses and start making sentences instead.

Quality will come with time.

National Novel Writing Month is coming up in November. Starting today, you can see what results practicing your sentences today can do for your writing of tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. And this is how it is done. There are many days I have to make myself sit down and write a sentence to get going because things aren't flowing like I wish they were. But if you want to finish, that's how it has to go.

    Happy sentence sculpting to you!

    Meadow - @AGypsyLove ;)