Cory Doctorow (whose book Little Brother I recommended with extreme prejudice a while back) has a piece at Locus Online called “Writing in the Age of Distraction,” which gives some pointers on work habits for writers. For instance, he recommends a “Short, regular work schedule:”
When I’m working on a story or novel, I set a modest daily goal — usually a page or two — and then I meet it every day, doing nothing else while I’m working on it. It’s not plausible or desirable to try to get the world to go away for hours at a time, but it’s entirely possible to make it all shut up for 20 minutes. Writing a page every day gets me more than a novel per year — do the math — and there’s always 20 minutes to be found in a day, no matter what else is going on. Twenty minutes is a short enough interval that it can be claimed from a sleep or meal-break (though this shouldn’t become a habit). The secret is to do it every day, weekends included, to keep the momentum going, and to allow your thoughts to wander to your next day’s page between sessions. Try to find one or two vivid sensory details to work into the next page, or a bon mot, so that you’ve already got some material when you sit down at the keyboard.
This is interesting, because Cory’s pretty darned prolific, but it sounds like he’s not exactly at the Asimov end of the work habit spectrum. A page or two a day, that’d net you 365 to 730 pages a year, so yeah, it’ll add up. But I’m surprised that he doesn’t have a higher daily goal. Stephen King aims for ten pages a day, which is about 2,000 words.
I’m not prolific, but I’m working on at least earning the right to use the first three letters of the word to refer to myself. To do that, I continue developing my own work habits, trying to figure out what actually works for me. Continue reading