In his book On Writing, Mr. King suggests this daily regimen for writers, one that he practices himself:
Every day, make sure you write 2,000 words. Lock yourself in a room. Disengage your phone. Draw the curtains over the windows. Throw the magazines out. Sit at your desk and start writing, only taking breaks when you need to use the toilet, and if absolutely necessary, when you need to eat.
There will be days when you’re done by 11.30A.M.; and there are days when you’ve only gotten 300 words out on the page, and the sun is already golden and disappearing over the horizon. Write your 2,000 words every day, and don’t let yourself sleep unless you’ve done that.
You could do worse than follow that.
I’ve been writing over the past 2.5 months that I’ve been at this job. I have written short stories, scripts, parts of a bigger story, but mostly short stories. Over time, like running or singing or dancing, the act of turning ideas into words and transferring them onto the screen have become more and more natural to me. This is also partly thanks to the 500 words a day I’ve committed myself to write on this blog since late last July.
So yes, I’ve been writing for a while now, and Mr. King’s words have always been a distant dream. You know the sentiment: “When I’m a full time writer, I swear I’ll write 2,000 words a day – and more!”
But the problem with that is that it’s the thoughts of an aspiring writer. And the biggest problem with an aspiring writer is that he’s not really a writer: only someone who wishes that he is.
The best advice I’ve read all year, thanks to the NaNoWriMo Malaysia group, is one by Mr. Faulkner. It goes: “Don’t be a writer. Be writing.”
It’s sound advice that anyone can use. After all, a writer only has one responsibility: to write. To put words on the page or on the screen. The aspiring writer dreams of writing. The writer writes.
Some time last week, midway through Mr. King’s book, I opened up a project that I started earlier this year, but have left alone for a little bit. And I began putting words into it, willing myself to get those 2,000 words out on screen. You know what I found out? It’s easier than it sounds.
There are days when I’m done with the 2,000 words before lunch. There are days that I desperately hack away at the keyboard as the minutes tick to 5P.M., promising myself that I’ll come back to edit this mess some time in the future. Most days, I finish writing those 2,000 words around this time, in the mid afternoon.
Good or bad, easy or hard, I’ve been adding 2,000 words daily into the story. From 5,000 words last week, the story is now a whooping 18,000 words long story. And I think I have a good feeling about where this is going.
Don’t be an aspiring writer. Be a writer.
Don’t be a writer. Be writing.
That is all.