On Writing Every Day, continued

The more you sit at your writing place every day, the easier it gets. It’s like doing pushups: it’s hard when you start, but those flabby muscles get stronger.

After a while you can start setting goals: so many words per day is the one I use. Choose a number just a little outside your comfort zone. If you can write 250 words per day, go for 500 WPD. If 500 seems easy, kick it up to 1,000.

Don’t expect to meet that goal every day; even when you’re in the zone, with words pouring out, it can come to a screeching halt. The flow can shrink to a trickle, or dry up.

Resist the urge to quit. Don’t do the email or Solitaire or YouTube.

Writers have dealt with dry spells in different ways. Somerset Maugham typed his name over and over: W. Somerset Maugham W. Somerset Maugham W. Somerset Maugham. Sportswriter Red Smith was asked if it was hard to turn out a daily column. He replied, “Why, no. You simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”

When I was writing for television, I knew there was a paycheck waiting when I handed in my assignment. And possibly, another assignment. Great motivation. I have no such paycheck waiting now. And some days, I cannot get to my goal. I’ll talk about how to deal with this in future tips.