Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Indie Life: Aspie Writers & the 10-word Rule

Indie writers--- those who are self-publishing rather than seeing a traditional publisher--- have even more need than other writers to have a good, regular daily working schedule. There is no one standing over you to get your writing work done on time. You have to learn to do it for yourself.

If you are, in addition, an Aspie (Asperger Syndrome) writer, that gets double tough. The Aspie condition comes with this charming little function called 'executive function deficit'. It's kind of like having AD/HD. It means your writing life may be in a state of constant chaos. Chaos is not good if you want to get anything done!

And this is where the 10-word rule comes in: each day, when your designated writing time rolls around, you absolutely must dip in to your story and write a minimum of 10 words. You are allowed to take one day of rest per week--- it's in the Ten Commandments somewhere. But other than that, EVEN on days when you, for good reason, are not going to be even trying to fulfill your daily word count goal, you owe yourself 10 words.

Ten words! It's not so much. Even if you are not yet ready to start a new chapter, you may find a place here or there in a sparse paragraph which could benefit from a word or three of description.

And the magic of the ten word rule is when you are dipping in to your story for the ten words you absolutely must do, you seldom write JUST ten words. Yesterday I did over 600 words when I intended to do just the minimum. Since my word count goal was 926 per day, that was going a good way toward fulfilling my goal.

Being utterly strict about your ten words leads to a writer's blessing--- steady forward progress. Even if you have a whole bad month, if you do your ten word minimum, you are further ahead than when you started.

Plus, dipping into your story 6 days a week without fail keeps the project from growing stale, and then dying on the vine, as so often happens to a work of fiction that gets put aside for awhile.

Now, about that designated writing time: you need one. Yes, even if you are a wild and crazy Aspie who does things when the mood strikes and not on a schedule. A day--- yours, mine, anyone's--- needs a framework to it. When you were a child, your parents provided the framework in that there were set times for meals, for going to school/to do your homeschooling, to get up and to go to bed.... As a grown-up, you have fixed times depending on events like getting up, going to work, perhaps other things like watching the evening news--- these provide your framework.

If you look at yourself as a professional Indie writer, you must attach a designated writing time to your day's framework. In my own case, I find that unless I schedule things first thing in the morning, they don't get done. Once mid-morning rolls around, I've looked out the window and noticed the escaped sheep, or discovered I am out of kitchen garbage bags but not out of kitchen garbage, and my day's excitement has begun. Writing has to happen before this. If you are not a morning person, you may decide to write after you get home from work or school, or after the kids are in bed, or some other fixed point of your day. Whatever works for you. The exact time doesn't matter as much as the fact that you have scheduled one daily.

What is your own best writing time daily? Have you ever had to try shifting that time around? Do you think adopting the 10-word rule will help your writing?
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Cherie Reich said...

That's an interesting idea to have a ten-word minimum goal a day. Of course, most people would write more, but dipping the toe in, so to speak, makes sure you show up. :)

nissa_loves_cats said...

Ten words is so easy, there is no excuse to put it off.

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