Today is a special treat. Eric Trant is here with a special blog post on how much time you should spend writing to be a writer. He's currently doing a virtual book tour for his science fiction novel Steps.
He's also going to be giving away a copy of Steps to one lucky commenter! Leave a comment below for a chance to win! Feel free to leave a question for Eric, too, he'll be visiting during the day to reply to any comments.
About the author: Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novels Wink and Steps from WiDo Publishing, out now! See more of Eric's work at Website | Goodreads | Amazon.
And now for the feature:
Overconsumption: How Much Time Should You ~Really~ Spend Writing
Did you know you can die from drinking too much water? Seriously, it's called water poisoning, and is caused by diluting your body chemistry to such a point that the pH tips the wrong direction.
Did you know you can exercise too much? Compulsive exercising can cause long-term damage to your joints and ligaments, and is often linked to such secondary disorders as anorexia and bulimia.
Did you know you can write too much? We don't discuss this disorder, because most writing advice reads like this: Write 1,750 words per day, or go home.
That's the word count for NaNoWriMo, or thereabouts and it's the word count you hear chunked out by professional writers, coaches, your writer-mates and critique partners. We encourage a spate of twenty-six odd-shaped characters, that somehow if we gorge ourselves on fictional characters we might become better writers.
But how much is too much? How many words per day? Perhaps that is the question most often asked by anyone new to anything. You hear it in the gym, on the track, from the new kid at work -- how many hours a week should I spend working?
The answer is always the same: The right amount.
I heard that advice in the gym. I was talking to a guy about lifting, and we were discussing pride. Check your pride at the door, bro. That's what one of us said. Amen, said the other. Pride can hurt you.
In the gym, dangerous pride is a literal truth. Pride can cause tears, rips, sprains strains and snapped ligaments. Check your pride at the door, and hold this true for your writing, work, and any other prideful activity you undertake. Pride hurts.
The ~right amount~ depends on your level of preparation, and the needs of the moment. From a writing standpoint, the right amount may be four hours per day during draft, two hours during revision, and an hour or two during plotting or brainstorming.
Use time as a gauge, ~not~ word count.
You do not walk into the gym and demand to your muscles they lift a particular weight that day. Sure, you have goals, but some days your body is simply not prepared. Maybe you are injured, underfed, tired, or have not healed from the last workout. The same is true for writing. Sit at the computer with a goal in mind, but meter that goal based on hours, not word-count.
Your goal is to write the right amount.
Personally, I set a 1,250 word-count daily goal, but limit the time to no more than three hours, no less than one hour. If I do not bleed out in three hours, or if I cannot start within one hour, then I move on to other chores.
Clear your head.
If you spend ~all~ your time writing, you never reset your mind. Let it rest. Spin the wheels on a backroad or open highway. Let the wind blow and imagine animals in the clouds. Then, when you come back to writing, you'll be refreshed and ready to create something meaningful, rather than simply pounding out another random word-count.
Do not slack.
With all that said, I do not mean you should slack. I mean you should ~write the right amount~. That's the whole point. Set goals. Challenge yourself. Work hard.
But do not forget to rest.
The first guy to run a marathon died at the finish line, and there's a whole list of artists who did not survive the pressures of their craft. Find your balance with work, life, and the joys of creative explosion that comes with writing.
Then, in the end, you will be a better writer.
Readers, don't forget to leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of the novel Steps.