If you’re like me then you’re a twenty something year old individual who spent most of his life in school. And, if you’ve experienced that, chances are you know what it’s like to procrastinate like crazy. In my last post I talked about the benefits of procrastination but keep in mind that even research needs to be kept on check.
I once read that, as an Aquarius, I am one who lives an Ivory Tower existence. In essence: I spend all my time looking out the top of my window and pontificate the meaning of existence and all that entails. All the while, the room remains unswept, the dishes pile up, and I never get any visitors because I smell like I haven’t bathed in years. In summary, if unchecked, I am doomed to the life of a smelly, unlikeable bore.
While I don’t take astrology seriously, I did find this to be an issue in my life. Too often had I told myself, “I’ll write after this episode,” and, fifteen episodes later, it’s twelve in the morning and I’ve no ambition to write. Either that, or I spent so much time “researching” that I never make the time to write.
This past year I knew this behavior wouldn’t fly, and I decided to make a change. I planned to write every single day, and to make progress even if it was just a few paragraphs. However, as someone who had never written on this scale before, how does one get to writing something as big as a novel?
Well, after weeks of never getting past the first page, my process boiled down to two rules.
Rule Number 1
At least 500 words a day.
When put into a word document, five hundred words comes out to about three, three sentence paragraphs. Honestly this can be a great exercise in and of itself because, not only are you writing, but you have three sentences to write what you want. You can get a lot accomplished, as I demonstrated with this paragraph.
Rule Number 2
I could spend hours talking about how I would retroactively correct my writing. I could tell you about the many days I spent starting with a blank screen and, after hundreds of black printed letters, ended with a screen as blank as my grasp of Calculus. I could do that, or I could just write what I’m thinking and be done with it.
Part of the issue with writing is we want to get it right the first time. We want to make what’s in our heads be translated perfectly on the page. However, if you’ve ever tried that with a drawing, you’ll find that’s not always the case. Sometimes it takes more than one shot to write what you meant, but you’ll never find out what you need until you have a foundation. As I said in “Shitty First Draft,” that is your foundation.
That is all I have to offer: two simple rules. They carried me through all 309 pages of my Senior Project and I hope it serves you as well. If it doesn’t, well… I’m sure you’ll figure it out.
So how do you guys get to writing? Do you just write? What inspires you to write? Do you have rules for your first draft?