Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Put your pen where your mouth is

by Julie Wright

Have you ever wondered what exactly “writing” means? I say it all the time to my family—“Ssh! Not now kids, can’t you see I’m writing? Make yourself a bowl of cold cereal for dinner if you’re hungry.” Or, “Sorry, Ma. No can talk, I’m writing.” Or, “Sorry about the fact that I didn’t hear a word you just said, honey . . . I was imagining what the hero in the book I’m writing would have said . . .”

It’s a verb . . . It’s what I do, but what is it? Wikipedia says: Writing, in its most common sense, is the preservation and the preserved text on a medium, with the use of signs or symbols. In that regard, it is to be distinguished from illustrating such as cave drawings and paintings on the one hand, and authoring such as tape recordings, and film or movies, on the other.

Dictionary.com says it is to express thoughts or ideas through a written medium.

I say it's sitting your backside in a chair and getting it done.

I write. I’ve written, and, if you ask my family, I will always be writing. That is the key.

Just today I had a friend call. She wants to be a writer. She wants it bad. She froths at the mouth when I get a new book out or talk to her about book deals other writers make.

But she never sits down and writes. Seriously, never. She hasn’t written so much as two words together for over ten years.

I’m a member of a group called Codex. This group is comprised of neo-pro/pro science fiction and fantasy writers who have proven they are actively involved in that verb called writing. Most of them are winners of Writers of the Future award. I’ve read their work . . . they really are the writers of the future.

Recently they had a discussion about finding time to write. Anyone who knows me knows I am passionate about this since “finding” time is something that never happens to me. My life is busy. If you want to know how busy, go read my website under “aspire to write” and you’ll know what I’m talking about. After a lengthy discussion with my fellow codexians, I determined that all of them write at least 1000 words a week. Most of them write that per day, but all of them get at least that much in during a week time frame.

So now I’m curious about the rest of the world. Are you serious about writing? If you are . . . are you putting your pen where your mouth is? How many words a day/week/whatever do you write? Personally, I write about 500 words a day. Some days I do 2000; some days I do ten (not thousand--ten total, yeah I know, that bites). It all averages out to 500 a day. At that rate I write about 180,000 words a year. For me that is the equivalent of two (sometimes two and a half if I'm doing YA or middle grade) books. It takes me about a half hour a day to do that.

You could cut one sitcom out of your TV life and produce two books a year. I'd call that a worthy investment.


Janette Rallison said...

My problem is that I'm a slow writer. I haven't just cut out one sitcom--I've cut them all out--and I still am not sure if I average 500 words a day--and that takes me an hour or two . . .

Heather B. Moore said...

When I'm really focused I can write 1000 to 2000 words a day. But it is a big commitment. Often times, it replaces exercising. For me TV is no distraction. It's all these darn blogs and emails and piles of books around my house.

Julie Wright said...

ha blogs are my weakness too! I am fast to write but slow to revise. Revisions take me a lot longer, and a lot more cussing takes place during that time period.

Josi said...

I write fast, but I shoot off onto tangents that I cut later. If I count all the words, I bet I average about 1000 words a day, but if you only count the words I end up keeping, I'm down to about 400. I'm starting to really like revisions, it's getting the initial story down that's giving me fits.