Darynda Jones — The Day-to-Days

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So, as I head into my third year as a published author, I am still struggling to find a balance in how I write. And believe you me, I have tried it all.

For example, I’ve tried sleeping late, attending to business when I get up, then staying up all night to write.  

ADVANTAGE: No distractions. (Bwahahaha, it’s called the Internet. Let’s change that to LESS distractions.

DISADVANTAGE: I’m on Mountain Time, so by the time I got up to start my day, NY was almost done with theirs, which meant my editor, agent, publicist, marketing team, audiobook producer, everyone was calling it a day. I felt like I was missing out and I would often get to emails late in the day that should have been answered sooner.

I have tried getting up early and writing BEFORE the world needs my attention.

ADVANTAGE: I got my writing done early and could then focus on business the rest of the day. A very cool feeling.

DISADVANTAGE: I love staying up late to read or watch a movie, and I would do this despite the fact that I had to get up early. Then I’d be so tired I had a hard time writing the next day. Bottom line for me: Not enough discipline for this lifestyle. Period. I’m just not an early-to-bed kind of girl.

I have also tried just writing in sprints throughout the day and attending to business as it cropped up.

ADVANTAGE: It sounded good in theory.

DISADVANTAGE: Those little writing sprints got pushed aside as business took over my life. I suddenly had NO time to write. And by the end of the day, I was too tired to even think about it. (Or so I told myself.) It was always, “I’ll catch up tomorrow.” Guess what? Odds are you won’t.

All of this struggle leads to one thing: Having to write a book in a month or even 2 weeks because my deadline is here and I’m not even close to being finished. That’s all fine and dandy for a while, but it gets old. Fast. I once had to write a book in 2 weeks. I did it, but it was a rough 2 weeks and I don’t recommend it. I have since discovered the 500 Club.

WHAT I DO NOW:

I have become a firm believer in “slow and steady wins the race.” I no longer mind being the tortoise. The hair’s life is too full of drama, and I promise you, the minute you site down to write that book in two weeks, something will happen to derail your progress. Happens to me every single time. So, I joined the 500 Club.

Actually, you don’t JOIN the 500 Club. You simply commit to writing 500 words (or 250, or 1,000) of first-draft material every single day for the rest of your life. No excuses. Unless you are in labor or in a coma, you MUST write 500 words a day and it MUST be toward a manuscript. It can’t be a blog or an email or anything but fresh material.

ADVANTAGE: Anyone can write 500 words a day. It takes me 15-45 minutes, depending on how much I need to reread from the previous day and get caught up and how much I need to ponder my scene. And I can do it anytime. Late at night. Early in the morning. Mid-afternoon. It simply doesn’t matter. OH! And guess how many books 500 words a day will get you per year. Go ahead, guess. Okay, I’ll tell you. TWO! A measly 500 words a day, every single day (yes, including Sundays) will yield you 2 completed manuscripts a year. Another very cool advantage is that odds are you are going to write more than 500 words. Once you get started, it’s so simple to write 1,000. Or 2,000.

Darynda CoverTHAT IS PHENOMINAL!

But it doesn’t end there! Possibly the most important advantage is that it gets you into the habit of writing everyday. That is the bottom line, yes? The HABIT of writing? This way you have no excuse not to write. It doesn’t take long and anyone can do it. And only commit to what you can handle. Remember, 250 words a day is still a book in a year. Not bad. Not bad at all.

And as for the DISADVANTAGES? I can’t think of a single one.  

So, I dare you. NO! I DOUBLE dare you to join the 500 Club with me! You can find more information about it on Randy Ingermanson’s blog, Advanced Fiction Writing, here:

http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/blog

He has some great information, so join Randy and me today! I feel like we should get a coin or something for every month we write everyday. Right? Hmmmmm…

Thank you for having me and happy writing! 

Darynda author pic  NYTimes and USA Today Bestselling Author Darynda Jones has won numerous awards for her work, including a prestigious Golden Heart®, a Rebecca, two Hold Medallions, a RITA ®, and a Daphne du Maurier, and she has received stellar reviews from dozens of publications including starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and the Library Journal. As a born storyteller, Darynda grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike, and she is ever so grateful for the opportunity to carry on that tradition. She currently has two series with St. Martin’s Press: The Charley Davidson Series and the Darklight Trilogy. She lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of almost 30 years and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys. She can be found at www.daryndajones.com.

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9 comments to Darynda Jones — The Day-to-Days

  • I’ve long been a “Write Every Day” person and I think there is much to be said for establishing that habit you talk about. I’m no longer quite so sure that writing EVERY DAY is good for everyone; I treat writing as a job and so take weekends off. Other folks burn out if they force themselves to sit at their desk each day. But I remain convinced that striving for something along these lines is a fine idea.

  • Ken

    Hi there Darynda :)

    I’ve been a fan of the 500 club for a long time, though I can’t say that I’m a strict adherent, but I do try. I’m curious though: How do you translate the 500 club creed to the time when you’re editing? Are you still editing 500 words, or does it change to a page count?

  • Perfect timing for this post. After a insanely busy semester when I didn’t even have time to complete work for the day job, much less write, I need to get back in the habit of writing daily. I accept your double dare!

  • Great post. In my current WIP, I found that ten minutes was the minimum productive block of time for working on my first draft. I found it was worth doing even if I DIDN’T have time to write 500 words in that ten minutes, because it got my mind focused on plot problems, that my subconscious could then chew over, usually resulting in me having a solution and momentum the next time I sat down to write. Otherwise the story started to fade into the background of my mind and made it harder to get going again. :)

    Thanks for the post!
    Adrian.

  • quillet

    I absolutely agree with having a daily word-count goal, and making it a size that doesn’t sound intimidating. I use an easy-to-reach target to get me started, because once I have started, I usually keep going and far exceed it, which feels great. Er……except on those days when I procrastinate to the last minute. *hangs head*

    However, I’m with David on not insisting on every day. I give myself one day off each week from writing draft, at least as far as my to-do list is concerned. I often write draft on that day anyway, just because the momentum is there from all the other days — but I know I don’t have to, and that somehow makes a difference. It relieves the pressure? Or recharges my creative batteries? (Do I have batteries in me somewhere? Yikes, I’m afraid to look.) Gives me a chance to do some housework? (Actually, that’s a good reason to write, and to heck with the vacuuming.)

    Anyway, I don’t know exactly how it works, but for me, almost every day does work.

  • Razziecat

    Tempting…I’m currently working on something that isn’t so much new writing as transcribing, but I’m also expanding and rewriting as I go, and keeping track of my word count each day. It’s momentum…and I agree with Adrian, as long as I’m writing something, I keep thinking about it and can’t wait to sit down and do it. Plus, it’s a story I never finished, even though I pretty much know how it ends, so when I get to the end of the old notebook, I have to keep going–which means fresh material. It’s interesting how I sort of get a “jump start” by working off of old stuff ;)

  • Thanks for this, Darynda. You really got me thinking. I joined a “write 500 words every day” club elsewhere, and I have to report my word count. But with all of the stress I’ve been under, I’ve been cheating, and the word count has been redefined. Yep, I’m a cheater. (Ken, I include edits and it doesn’t feel quite right, because I’ll change two or three words in a sentence and include the whole sentence in my word count, and other things. Whole paragraphs rewritten is another story.) None of it feels right. I’ve backslid into journal entries and while some of it is useful, like plot brainstorming, and logging ideas and dreams for future mining, for the most part it doesn’t feel right. I’ve been cheating myself. But if I can commit to 500+ words of fresh writing, well, I have multiple projects. And I could write those 500 words and then get back to revising other things if need be. I think I’m going to try this. Or rather, I need to re-commit to this. Here goes!

  • Mythopoet

    This really rings true for me. I am a mom of 5 so my life is very busy. I tried different kinds of schedules but life always tends to interfere and then I started feeling like a failure because I wasn’t getting thousands of words down everyday. I think I need to tone down my expectations and be grateful when I can get any words down at all.

  • mudepoz

    500 plus editing old material?
    I guess I’ll have to have a 500 calorie frozen custard to do both :) Incentive.