Moderation

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Today’s subject, Moderation, is a difficult one at best. But it is so necessary for writers.

On those days when the writing is going well, you know the ones I mean, word after word flows out of your fingers and onto the page, its easy to sit for hours. Those are the days writers long for. Before you know it, 2000, 3000, 4000 plus words have been written. Those hours sitting at the computer are all worth it.

Or are they?

There are a few things in my life that I miss when I spend this much time with my writing.

Mostly it has to do with chores, laundry, cooking dinner, exercise and most importantly, relationships. It is easy for me to stay focused on whatever project I have going. These things can only be neglected for so long.

Another drawback to spending that much time with the words are injuries. When I worked on NaNoWriMo in November I struggled with pain in my hands from so much typing. Repetitive stress injuries are common with writers. I was glad when I was able to finish and my hands have healed.

For me the answer is Moderation.

The answer is in the word counts. Though I don’t write as many words each day, I do write daily. My focus is on a minimum of 500 words. Though I often go higher, I take a break. Do some of the other things I would miss, like go for a walk or meditate.

There are several authors who have a word count minimum for the day. Hemingway wrote between 500 and 1000 words each day. Another piece of advice I’ve recently read (Vincent Mars) stated that 500 is the minimum with 2000 being the maximum. Sounds like good advice.

Taking care of ourselves can ensure a long writing career.

How do you keep yourself healthy so you can do those things you want to do?

Counting Words

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If you will forgive the cliché, counting words is a writers bread and butter. There are word counts for everything. Each type of writing comes with a word length guideline. Every magazine has a different word length, often for each different genre that they accept.

Most of the challenges I have been taking on have been word count challenges.

My 500 words is a fabulous challenge that got me back into writing everyday. The only rule is to write 500 words each day.

NaNoWriMo is a word count challenge of 50,000 words in a 30 day time period.

Even Camp NaNoWriMo has a word count challenge,though the limit is set by each writer. I’ve set mine at 20,000 just to have some breathing room.

There is a lot to be said for writing a said amount of words each day but the one thing that these don’t talk about is word quality. Of course each of the above challenges I’ve mention run on the honor system so it is possible to write pure garbage and still complete the challenge. I know. I’ve done it.

At some point, I would like quality to win out over quantity. I am just going to believe all those fabulous writers who have gone before me when they say the quality will come. I read somewhere once that being a writer is the only profession where the apprenticeship involves writing a million words. I wonder how close I am.

I believe in garbage first drafts. There is something to just getting words down on paper. However, they can’t stay like that. It is my desire to spend much of my time working with those million words and honing them to the right word at the right time. I’m not good at it but as with anything, it takes practice. And more practice. And still more.

I think I’m intimidated by the words on paper. They are just so black and white. Who am I to change them? Didn’t I really say what I wanted to say the first time?

The answer is and always need to be no. I find splashes of inspiration in those words but they are always messy, even unruly. Messy words, chaotic sentences. This is where the real learning comes in. And the real writing.

I have a lot to learn.