Wednesday, February 5, 2014

EVERY DAY?

by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

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I try to write every day, but that can be tough. I began 2014 sick with a stuffy head that barely let me think straight. How could I write under those conditions?
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I was facing a list of revisions and a deadline, but I had to put those on hold until my mind cleared. Still, I felt I needed to make myself focus on writing in some way.

Life throws distractions at all of us and puts obstacles in our paths. Monumental obstacles like weddings and funerals and car accidents. Distractions like meetings and lunches. Necessities like kids, grandkids, and paying bills. Mundane chores like grocery shopping and laundry. These things give life balance. Without experiencing Life, how can I write about it? (If one of my characters develops a head cold, I am well-equipped to describe how it feels.)



Yet, I am a longtime proponent of writing every day. Do I manage it? Of course not, but I try.

That doesn’t mean I write chapters every day. Or even pages. Sometimes, not even a paragraph, but if I get down a sentence or two, I’m heading in the right direction.

My sentence or two might not be for my current Work In Progress. I might just jot down a few ideas for future stories. Or make a few notes about the weather that day, the way the sky looked, or the way the wintry air felt on my face. I don’t consider that a waste of my writing time. I might need weather descriptions some day for a story. I might need to write a winter scene on a hot August day, and it helps to be able to pull out those sentences and remind myself more clearly how winter felt.

Even when I have a day where I don’t write one word, I try to find what Joy Cowley calls “percolating time.” Every story, every character, every scene needs to percolate in my brain before it can make its way onto the page. Ideally, my percolating time is while taking a walk, but I can also grab a few minutes while in the shower or emptying the dishwasher. It might be a stretch to call this “writing,” but it’s definitely a necessary part of the process.

I continue to keep trying. Do you try to write every day? Do you have any tricks to help you to achieve this?

20 comments:

  1. Hi
    Though started with a stuffy head
    glad to note that now going steady
    with lot of good things to tell!! :-)
    Keep going
    Best
    Phil

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  2. I wish I wrote every day. I've been defining that as "work on current WIP", and some days, I just can't manage it. But I CAN jot down some ideas or even a sentence or two - so thank you for helping me redefine what it means, and giving me some new ideas!

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    1. Glad you found it helpful, Liz. It's all part of the process. Thanks for stopping by, & good luck with your own "every day" plan.

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  3. Hey Kathy.

    I'm like you...hard to write under adverse conditions. I write something every day, but sometimes it's just sentences or ideas, phrases, descriptions.

    Nice blog. I like your Swagger group.

    M.L. Swift, Writer

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    1. Thanks, M.L. Those sentences, ideas, phrases, & descriptions can end up being very useful. Good luck to you!

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  4. I write something every day, though my fiction can take a backseat to grades, emails and bills...

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    1. Oh, those bills! And you also write beautiful, insightful poetry.

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  5. As long as I'm managing three blog posts a week and keeping up with my writing for school and for my local newspaper (under our "High School Highlights" section) I'm satisfied. I definitely don't write prose ever day, although I'd like to.

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    1. In my opinion, it all counts, Patrick. Keep it up.

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  6. Some of my best thinking happens when I'm riding the stationary bicycle. If I exercised more, both me and my novel would be in better shape.

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    1. You made me laugh, Ann. The same goes for me & my walking. Here's to us both getting in "better shape."

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  7. My best "thinking" time is right before I drift off to sleep. Somehow those last thoughts percolate in my mind and in the morning I find I have an idea of where to go next. I do write every day--not necessarily on my WIP. Blogging, commenting on others' blogs, promotion--it's all writing. Best wishes.

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    1. Thanks, Diane. Writing is writing, It's all part of the process. Even a great pianist can practice scales. I have found that thinking at bedtime seldom works well for me. It tends to keep me awake, when a good night's sleep would better prepare me for the next day's writing. But if it works for you, great!

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  8. When I'm in between manuscripts, I don't write every day. (When I am working on one, it's a couple hours every night.) In between, hopefully blog posts and comments count!

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    1. It all counts, Alex. Even that percolating time that's thinking ahead to the next manuscript.

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  9. Many moons ago--I read advice in writer's Digest that has stuck with me for a long time (longer than some of you may be old!). It basically said, "DO something related to writing every day." Even if it's reading- it's related. There are years in my life when I barely could write anything but a grocery list, but I still remember this advice. Now I aim for 1000 words on my WIP on my writing days. Sometimes life interferes--but I've learned that even when I only have 30 minutes, that a few hundred words is better than nothing at all.

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    1. Thanks, Carol. Sage advice from you & from Writer's Digest. I write mostly historical fiction, so reading non-fiction histories is important research. It's all a necessary part of the process.

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  10. I love the idea of "percolating time!" If only I had known about it back in grammar school when my teachers thought I was daydreaming. Instead of being penalized, I could've turned that time into extra credit. I agree that writing in any form definitely does count, and you never know what might trigger your next idea. Thanks Kathy!

    Julie

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    1. Glad I could help. Sometimes teachers don't appreciate the value of percolating time, but every successful writer does. Thanks for your comment, Julie.

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