Writers write. We’ve all heard this succinct advice on becoming a writer.
But how often should we write? Where should we write? Where do we start? Where do we finish?
How long should we write each day?
Answers to these questions fill countless of books, articles, blogs. Often they disagree.
Each writer brings his own approach to the art and technique of writing. Stephen king believes one should write every day. Jeff Somers, the New Jersey sci-fi writer believes it’s pointless to force it. We may agree on general principles, yet disagree on specific habits.
When I write a new novel or novella, I generally won’t stop working unless I complete the chapter I’m working on. The chapters of my novels tend to be short, so the task isn’t that daunting.
Having thought about the forthcoming chapter the previous day—the story beats that have to be struck and the character development that needs to occur—I keep to the task until that last sentence is in place. I end my chapters with a revelation or hook that creates expectation in reader, and this guides my thinking the following day; it makes the process easier — for me.
This might not be the case for others.
A fellow writer, and winner of several writing awards — no slouch in the craft of writing— told me that he often stops writing before completing the scene he’s working on, whether it’s giving him problems or not. He finds that tackling the material the following day brings fresh insight to his writing. I suspect this is because he is more a pantser than a plotter, but the point is well taken. One shoe size does not fit all. There are, indeed, different strokes for different folks.
It’s helpful to keep this in mind as we pour over the voluminous suggestions of experts. Some nuggets of advice are more suited to our particular personalities and circumstances than others. We need to decide which to keep and which to throw away.
After all, how long is a piece of string, anyway?
Study all the advice on how to write in general, including on how long to write each day, but use only what’s best suited to you.