Writing More is Easier

pencil_notebook_writing_237689_lYes, you read that headline correctly. I am going to set about telling you why writing more is easier than writing less.  KEEP READING. I know you were about to click away when you read that writing more bit. But stick with me.  You can throw tomatoes at the end if you like, but at least give my brilliant and thought-provoking words a ponder.

Years ago, (not even going to tell you how many), when I was learning to drive, my sister would sometimes take me out to practice. (Seeing as how she was only three years older than me, that would be illegal today.)  There was one curvy stretch of road fronting the air base that tended to be traffic free, which is where we headed. As I got behind the wheel, my sister urged me to step on the gas, saying “Driving faster is easier than driving slower.”

While the fact that I had three older sisters to share such helpful tidbits  might explain a lot about me, it also illustrates the principle of writing that I want to share: more is better.  But first, let me mention another example, that of meditation.  Yes, yet another topic you don’t want to hear.  I’ve experimented with meditation for years and never managed to get a regular practice going. I’d sit down for five or ten minutes, as the experts told me, planning to gradually increase my time. But here’s the deal: nothing happened. I felt no effects from it. Only when I regularly carved out twenty minutes of time to practice did the benefits begin to accrue.

And now back to writing.  I have been a bit stymied with my WIP.  This first draft is a mess, complete with all caps notes to myself like THIS IS THE WORST PIECE OF CRAP EVER AND THIS SCENE MAKES NO SENSE.  I’m not kidding.  I was rocking along, forcing myself to write 500 or 1,000 words a day.

But one day, I managed to eked out 2,000 words. And suddenly I enjoyed writing it again. I set a goal of 2,000 words a day (generally accomplished first thing in the morning) and started flying.  Not only were the words piling up, but I fell in love with the story and the characters all over again. The more I wrote, the better I felt.  Truly, committing to a higher word count a day became easier than trying to get excited over 500 words.

Here’s why I think this happens:

  1. Mental momentum.  When I get more accomplished each day, I think about it more.  The characters pop into my brain throughout the day, and I find myself scribbling notes often.  By writing more, I’m engaging my brain more.
  2. Encouragement.  Man, its nice to see that word count pile up.  I was despairing that I’d ever write a eke out a full novel with this story and suddenly I have 75,000 words.
  3. Writing fast.  In order to accomplish my goal, I have to write fast and not worry too much about getting it perfect.  This allows me to get the story on the page and push through the doubts. Much better than wringing my hands because I don’t know where to go next
  4. Writing breed writing.  Or, the more you do, the more you can do.  Just like energy breeds more energy–its all true.
  5. It gets easier. The more you write, the easier it is–and I mean this in terms of having ease as you are writing. If you only write a little bit once in awhile, your writing habit is rusty and it is hard. But if you’re writing a lot every day, you get into the rhythm of it and fingers fly.

So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it because it is true. So say I.  What say you? What’s your word count goal?

Also–a note for regular readers.  Do you remember a post I did recently called Meditation for Writers? It would have been since the start of the year, or at the very end of last year. I am certain I wrote the damn thing, but I can’t find it to save my life.

Photo by len-k-a.

12 thoughts on “Writing More is Easier”

  1. I always vomit-draft the first drafts. Done that twice last year and right now I’m editing the first of the two novels. Lock the inner editor away and let the inner creative together with the characters steer the story. Yeah, I don’t do much of outlining except inside my head. At times it feels as if I’m weaving.

    The post you mention is in this address:

    https://wordstrumpet.com/2011/10/meditation-for-writers.html

    However, it’s from 2011? Not sure if that’s the one you were looking for. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Audra. I was looking for a post by the same name that I wrote this year, in January. Another reader was able to send it to me. I think what happened was that this year’s post superseded the old one and the new one got erased. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, but then it is the internet so I shouldn’t be surprised.

      And I like the phrase vomit-draft. 🙂

    1. I have to approve comments before they appear. We’ve tried to get it set up in a different way, but then other things don’t work. Like I said in my other reply to you, its the internet! We should expect crazy. And I really appreciate you finding that link for me.

  2. “Mental Momentum” that’s the perfect name for what happens when you set aside the time and just “do it.” (thank, Nike) I find the same thing happens to me. I don’t use word goals, but time goals. My fatigue sometimes shortens it all, but if I’ve sat down and worked on my writing even a bit, the drive stays strong. Thanks for the reminder, Charlotte!

  3. Two thousand is good. I’ve settled on a thousand, but I hope for more. I was stymied this morning. I wrote a scene in which I moved some characters around but there actions had no meaning and their motives were more difficult to understand than fractal geometry. I’d lost touch with my own WIP.
    You know how I hate television. It is a time vampire, with teeth big as Alaskan pipelines. I vowed to rip it out of my neck, so I went into the back yard. My wife gardens. I rummaged through the stones she’d piled up until I found a 5-pounder. Lacking a sling shot, I put it in a pillow case and pushed back the furniture so I could spin and hurl it through the screen. As I wrapped the cloth in my hand, I imagined the powder from the circuits rising from the splintered screen. I’ve been watching Mad Men on Netflix, 48 minutes and 20 seconds per day. Then I thought, “Why not one more episode?” A sort of farewell toast. So I sat in the floor and leaned back on the front of the recliner.
    I played the next in line, season one episode thirteen. There is a scene in which Don Draper pitches to the Kodak people concerning their slide projector. It is sooooo moving. How did the writer and everyone involved create such an electric scene on such mundane subject. It brought me to my own work, to the screwed up scene I’m trying to write. Some writer once said, every character wants something. That helped me, thinking what my minor character wanted, what he might be thinking, what motivates him. Thinking those things and thinking of that damned slide projector.
    The thousand words will come easy tonight. I moved the pillow case and its accompanying rock to the corner. The vampire waits by the bedroom wall. Tomorrow is another day.

    1. I love the image of you and your rock and your pillowcase so much, J.D. Glad violence did not ensue and inspiration came instead. I do think I remember that scene from Mad Men…and I certainly have been in the situation where I felt I’d lost touch with my WIP.

  4. Excellent piece, I agree, it’s better to write nonsense, than nothing at all. Nonsense can soon turn to sense, once your imagination kicks in….

    Am I bad to mention the typo? You missed a “t” in meditation and it looks like mediation. 😛

  5. Don Williams

    Excellent points Charlotte.

    It’s true, the more you write, or read or whatever, the easier it gets.

    A billion years or so ago, I was determined to read the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. It was hard, the very fact that it contained about 750,000 words was discouraging to say the least. However, by telling myself that I would only spend five measly minutes reading per day, I soon found that before long I was reading it for twenty minutes per day, then an hour or more on end and that it was getting easier and easier as time went along, not to mention all the more interesting as I did.

    What ever you do, the more you do it it becomes easier and easier and more and more enjoyable as you do. If I’m discouraged by a project or task I always tell myself that I’ll just only do a tiny bit and damn, before you know it I’m finished!

    The same also goes for my love of walking. I started with the idea of only walking around the block, and then the next thing you know, time permitting of course, I regularly ended up walking from my home in the east part of the city to the outer edge, a distance of 54 kilometers or some twenty-five miles! I think nothing of it either, so your points really hit home for me.

    Back to the Bible, for your information, I just today, after starting in 1993, some twenty-five years ago, I just now finished reading the whole Bible for the 500th. time. I’m sure there is someone, somewhere, who has read it more, but not to my knowledge, so thanks again for this post as it really makes sense to me.

    Can’t wait for you next book.

    1. Don, you are the best. I agree with you about telling yourself to do something for just 5 minutes and then working up to more. It really works!

      And I swear, you should write a book or an article about reading the bible 500 times. That is so amazing and cool. I know that the more you read something the more you sink into it and I bet you have fascinating insights.

      Thank you for being eager for my next book!

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