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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I Wrote 10,000 Words Today!

Umm...no. I didn't. Did the title make you feel inadequate? Even for a minute? Well, it shouldn't.

Lots of times on Facebook and Twitter, I'll see posts from authors who crow about how many words they wrote that day. And I'm happy for them. Really. I'm just not one of them. I never will be. Know why? Because my writing routine is very different.

I know writers get tons of advice about just putting dreck on the page and then going back to edit later. If that works for you, and you're happy to finish a first draft with 200,000 words of dreck that will eventually be cleaned and polished to a 50,000 word manuscript, good for you. Everyone has to find their own process.

But I can't put dreck on a page and boast about it. I can't move forward until what I've written previously is the best that I can make it. (And ooh--look! I'm breaking another rule by using the no-no phrase "I can't..." Not once, but twice! Egads. Hide the women and children!)

I don't apologize for not writing 10,000 words in a day because that's not my process. Here's a typical writing day for me:

I write a scene, mostly dialogue. Then I go in and layer that scene. Sometimes five and six times. I fix punctuation and spelling errors, double-check my research, add color and scenery and stage direction. And then, when that scene could go into a published work exactly as written, I'm ready to move onto the next scene and do it all over again.

With a process like this, it's no wonder I'm thrilled if I write 500 words in a day. The difference between me and the Dreck Writer who writes 10,000 words a day is, when I type The End, it really is The End. I can rest assured that the book needs one quick read-through to focus on story arc and continuity, and that baby is ready to fly. While my counterpart is stuck in revision hell, trying to decide if (s)he really needs to mention the curtains were green right before the house goes up in flames.

So the next time you feel inadequate because someone's boasting about writing 10,000 words today and you've stared at the same sentence for a week trying to decide whether to use "which" or "that," take heart. You're not alone. I do it too. And since I've already published 12 books, with a Christmas anthology due out next month and at least two full-length novels coming in 2013, I'd say you're in pretty good company.

It doesn't matter how you write the book. Just write the damn book. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html
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