Today, we take a look at the other part of Stephen King's equation: WRITE A LOT. But how can we fit enough writing into our busy schedules?
Don your jet packs and don't forget your typewriters and laptops--it's time for the Electric Didact!
So what about the rest of us?
If you're like me, you have a full-time day job, and then some! In my case, I have a full-time class schedule, plus work in between/afterwards, adding up to a 9 to 5 workday (plus homework at night).
Michael Kardos, in his pseudo-textbook The Art and Craft of Fiction, talks about making a habit of writing:
If you're serious about writing, you have to make the time for it. I write short fiction, which is helpful because it allows me to finish a story within a week or two even with my busy schedule. The key is just that--schedule. But there are other things to keep in mind, too.
Kardos outlines several tips that I'll share here, along with my own insights.
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This is essential to habit building, but also to the creative process. The goal is to condition your brain to enter the writing "mode" when you get into that particular place.
Even 20- to 30-minute intervals can work for short fiction! I usually finish one short story per week by writing during these short breaks between some of my classes/shifts. It may be hard at first, but making it a habit will enable you to slip into the writing mode faster for these short sessions.
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This is really important. Stephen King comments on it this way: "For any writer, but for the beginning writer in particular, it's wise to eliminate every possible distraction. ... When you write, you want to get rid of the world, do you not? Of course you do. When you're writing, you're creating your own worlds" (On Writing, p. 156).
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Kardos further explains that, for him, a word-count goal is best for longer works like novels, while a time goal is better for short fiction.
I work with a time goal (usually the span of whatever time slot I have available). I only write in the morning or early afternoon, and if I have the time free I spend an hour on whatever story I have in-progress.
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I highly suggest taking King's advice above and limiting distractions to as few as possible. Cover the windows. Shut the door. Maintain silence.
But experimentation is important too. It may happen that you have no trouble writing in various conditions, but that these situations affect how or what you write.
I've heard so many people talk about how they get writer's block or how they start projects and don't finish them--lots of different things. But making writing into a regularly scheduled habit will actually make it easier to write, easier to get new ideas, and easier to finish projects. It's just how it works.
Jedd Cole is a professional writer and author of short speculative fiction. He resides in Ohio where he is completing a degree in Rhetoric & Professional Writing, crafting short stories in every time-nook he can find, all while frequenting the pages of imaginary worlds with his wonderful wife, Heather, and no pets. None.