Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The Discipline of Writing

Mike Duran has argued that the craft of writing is at least as important as creativity to a writer.  If creativity is about inspiration, craft is about discipline.  It is about spending the time and the energy to learn how to write well, and to do the work of writing.

I've been trying to develop a more disciplined writing schedule.  I usually write as I feel inspired, writing as much as I feel comfortable writing, until I get the ideas that I already have in my head out.  Recently, I've started trying to write consistently, at least 800 words a day, five days a week.  I'm focusing this writing on producing a novel.  At this rate, I produce one chapter a week, and should finish in about twenty weeks.  I'm about a quarter of the way so far, so I think it's going well, at least as far as the word count is concerned.

One of the frustrations of maintaining this discipline, even though every writer I've ever heard give advice on writing insists that it's necessary, is that it feels as though the quality of my writing suffers when I focus so much on the word count.  I feel like the creativity portion of the craft and creativity suffers from me trying to force my brain to come up with something rather than letting the ideas bubble up on their own, and simmer for a while before putting them to paper.  Writing at this rate forces me to come up with new ideas on the fly, and to devote them to paper without the proper aging.

I wonder sometimes whether this is my imagination.  When I look back on some of my earlier writings, I don't always find that my ideas were as well thought out as I thought they were at the time.  And when I read over stories that I've written quickly before, they seem less disjointed and wandering than they felt when I was writing them.

Some people say that you can't force inspiration.  I really don't think that is right.  Prolific writers are capable of writing at high speeds because they learn to come up with enough ideas to maintain that speed.  But I'm beginning to think that I need to figure out how to force inspiration.


  1. This was useful to read. I am using my blog as a 'writing gym'- a discipline.
    Good to read encouraging words from authors like yourself - thanks.



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