Very early in my writing endeavors, I learned two acronyms to frame the writing life–B.I.C. and W.O.P.
B.I.C. stands for butt-in-chair. W.O.P. stands for words-on-page.
You’ve heard the old adage, writers write. And if you’ve ever attempted to be a writer you also know how hard it is to (1) carve time out to sit down and (2) actually accumulate words on a page. I’m intending to compose a few posts here, sharing strategies that have worked (and maybe even a few that haven’t worked) for me in achieving B.I.C. and W.O.P.
A key strategy for me in getting words-on-page is to be intentional about scheduling time. A few years ago I began setting writing windows into my schedule, like appointments. Tuesday and Thursday, late afternoons, for instance. My wife has a regularly scheduled commitment those afternoons. I’ve carved that time out. Weekend mornings–before anyone in the house is really up and moving. I carved that time out. And voila! There I have between ten and twelve hours a week set aside specifically to work on my manuscripts.
A second key strategy, then, needed to be employed–being intentional about a words-per-day target. I found–as I’m sure you’ve discovered–just setting aside time to write doesn’t necessarily add up in word count. I’ve lost many a writing hour staring at a blank sheet, thinking about what I want to write. You know the drill–write a few sentences. Read it and conclude, ‘That sucks!’ and hit the delete key … watching your cursor reverse itself, gobbling up your words right back to left. Gone.
You’ve been there, yes? I imposed a words-per-session target for myself. Each of us will be different–you know how quickly you create. For me, I aim for a minimum of 1500 words a session. And then, in the back of my mind, I aim to double it! I’ll be satisfied at 1500. I’ll be downright giddy to hit 3000. And, on occasion, I might reward myself–‘Hit 4000 words and (morning) stop into Union for an Americano!’ If it’s an afternoon … make that a beer! Evening … glass of wine (yes, I am cultured!). Oh, when it comes to words-on-page, I am not above rewards-seeking!
Let me encourage you–just put words on page. That’s the most important first step in writing. I’ve wasted so many hours thinking, rethinking, evaluating, editing–crumpling up pages and tossing them in the direction of a waste basket. Save that stuff for a later date. If you’re writing a book–get the initial draft done, ugly as it is. Then refine it. Or perhaps, make a strategy for forward progress: ‘I’ll get 10,000 words down and then I’ll spend a few sessions refining that before I move on to the next 10,000.”
And if you’re cultured like me … at 10,000 words refine a bit AND THEN make that wine a bottle of Bully Hill Winery’s Love My Goat!