Recipe for Successful Writing

If nothing else, participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo (or a mini version of it) has taught me a valuable lesson. And I’m only on day 4!

As a reader, when I read, I need to be feed excitement on every page. I need a reason to want to turn the page and keep reading. Reaching the end of a chapter that ends on a cliffhanger is great, because I want to turn the page and read on, even when I know I have to put the book down and go to bed. This is a sign of a good book, to me.

Writing is much like reading. Even though the writer knows exactly where the story is heading (in most cases), the writer needs cliff hangers too. Sure, some writers can sit at the computer – day in, day out – and write with no trouble whatsoever. However, I believe that writing is hard work and most writers struggle to get the right words. In the last four days, I’ve discovered a new recipe for successful writing.

  • Never write ’till you drop. You are exhausting yourself and your mind and body will not thank you for it.
  • Set small daily word count goals, instead of huge ones that may be impossible to achieve. Reaching the small goal is easier to do, but it’s also inspiring. Who cares if you only write 500 words a day. That’s 3,500 words a week. That’s 14,000 words a month. That’s 168,000 words a year. That’s nothing to be ashamed of and at least you’ll get the project finished.
  • Stop writing, even if the words are flowing nicely, on a cliffhanger. Don’t continue writing the scene in a frenzy and stop when it’s finished. Why? Because the next time you sit down to start writing you will struggle to get started. Getting started is the hardest part of writing. But if you have stopped in the middle of an exciting scene, you will eagerly sit down and start pounding away at the keyboard without having to find inspiration. The inspiration is already there. You won’t forget where the scene is heading over night and you’ll be itching to get back to the keyboard in order to finish writing that scene. And when you do finish the scene, you continue writing until you reach another cliffhanger before you stop again.

I’ve been using these steps for my Mini-NaNo and it’s working a treat. I haven’t been pushing myself to the limit. My goal each day is 835 words, yet each day the total work count is increasing steadily. This alone inspires me, but then, because I’ve stopped in the middle of an exciting scene I feel inspired to return to my work and keep typing.

You should try it.

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