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Dave Taylor’s Advice for New Authors

If you’re an aspiring author, be sure to read Dave Taylor’s latest post. I tend to agree with him on most of this, but my experience is a bit different…

Way back when, about a million years ago, I actually wrote a few computer books. I wouldn’t say I ever had “writer’s block”, but I guarantee you my output varied greatly from day to day. On the one hand, it’s good to divide the total number of pages by the number of days you have to write, and come up with an average. Just be careful that you don’t get overly focused on the result.

Some days I could produce 10 or more pages of pretty decent manuscript…or at least I thought it was pretty decent. Other days I might have a hard time cranking out 3 pages, even with a couple of short program listings included to help boost the page count total. As a result, I don’t think Dave’s college journal exercise of writing 3-4 pages per day would have worked for me – the results would have been terrible some days and definitely uneven over the course of a week/month.

We’ve had a number of authors chime in on other subjects…would any of you like to share your experience on writer’s block, number of pages per day, etc.?

Comments

Scott Berkun

There's no one answer to this kind of question - every writer of fiction, non-fiction or fortune cookies, seems to have different limits and challenges to being and feeling productive.

In writing The art of project management I found time per day a better measure than pages: If I could produce 3 or 4 solid hours of new work a day that was good. If I could only manage a half hour that was bad - and when I couldn't face the blank page... well, lets not talk about that.

I learned that there's always related work than can be done when I can't "write" - reading, researching, editing, etc. And doing that work usually helped my mindset the next day.

Of all the books I've read on managing time and dealing with writer's block here are the two best resources I've found:

A writer's time and Art and fear.

Ian Hocking

I'm a writer of fiction, and though Dave is talking mainly about non-fiction, I think the 'writers write' rule holds true in my field too. If you wait for inspiration to box your ears, you'll be waiting a long time. Part of the myth might be due to a misinterpretation of the output of some of our 'great' writers. Sure, it might take several years to write a book, but that doesn't mean the poor writer wasn't writing every day. Writer's block, where it exists, might be due to poor plannig; you need to know where the book/article is heading. White paper won't tell you.

Alfred C Thompson

I think there is a big difference between writing fiction and non-fiction. Fiction strikes me as harder. Perhaps it would be ok if I could layout a whole story and fill in the outline. That seems to work for me for short stories and long non-fiction. I've written a couple of textbooks and workbooks as well as some articles. Writer's block, at least as being unable to write at all, has been very rare. Once you have a book outline it is fairly smooth to fill it in. And with non fiction if you are stuck on one chapter you can at least think about working on a different chapter to make some progress. None the less there are days when explaining things come easy and you write a lot and other days where you just struggle over how to make something simple and you don't get much of anything written. Sometimes it helps to walk away from the computer and just think about things. That's what has worked the best for me when stuck.

shel Israel

The only time I ever thought I might be experiencing writer's block was at the beginning of the book project that I am now about to complete. When I started, I felt like I had my toes to the base of a mountain and I was staring at gray solid rock. I recalled that just about everyone who coached me on being a professional writer had advised me to keep writing every day. On friend told me that you find the good words, phrase, sentences and chapters at the end of a long run of bad words.

So I just kept writing. I wrote Chaoter One badly 12 times. Really. I spent 35,000 words finding the right 3000 words which comprise the first chapter. It got a lot easier after that.

I know. It's a long story. My point is this: Just keep writing.

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