Friday, November 30, 2012

Writing: How Much Time...

In my "writing" post last week, I answered the question about how much time I spent writing. The answer, in case you don't want to go back to that post and check, is "it depends." I thought it might be interesting to see how other writers approach this.

My friend and mentor, James Scott Bell, is one of those writers who writes to a quota. Here's how Jim handles it:

"Sometimes I get my quota done in the morning. Then I cruise the rest
of the day, writing more if I feel like it, or doing other things,
like editing, running my self-publishing business, or research and so

"Other days, it's like playing tennis in the La Brea tar pits. It can
take me a lot longer to get the quota in. But I fight through to get
it done.

"On rare occasions I just go, Forget it! Not worth it today! And then I
make up the words the next day.

"If I were to estimate an average, I'd say it takes me 2-3 hours to do my quota."

Thanks, Jim. Incidentally (and this is unsolicited), Jim's books, both fiction and those on writing are excellent. I especially recommend Plot and Structure, wherein he details his LOCK system.

Any questions on writing you'd like addressed here? If I don't know the answer, I suspect I know people who do, and I'm not afraid to ask.

(photo via


Mark Young said...

LOL. "Other days, it's like playing tennis in the La Brea tar pits." I love the visual image,Jim.

Everyone: I'd like to recommend both these guys' books. Quality writers! Well worth the clams.

Richard Mabry said...

Mark, thanks for stopping by. Plot and Structure was one of the first books I read when I started this road to writing (and walking it has been sort of like playing tennis in the La Brea tar pits as well).
So there you have it, folks. Write by schedule or write as time allows. In either case, the advice is the same. Write.

James Scott Bell said...

Well thanks, you two. Next time you're out in L.A., I'll take you to the real La Brea tar pits, and we'll write a short story together.

Richard Mabry said...

I don't tell people this, preferring to let them think I've lived all my life in Texas, but I spent a couple of years in LA (age 2-4), and have a vague recollection of the La Brea tar pits. So 1) I've been there, and 2) let's stay at your house and write the story.
Thanks for contributing.

S. Kim Henson said...

Thanks, Richard and Jim. I'm comforted by hearing even pros have off days and sometimes don't meet quota. I'm still finding my way. For now, the only schedule I have is to write daily.

Thanks for the book suggestion. I'm adding it to my list.

Carol Garvin said...

I've just been re-reading Jim's THE ART OF WAR FOR WRITERS... an excellent resource. It's interesting to hear how other writers approach their time commitments. The only consistent advice seems to be "just write". I normally prefer writing in the late evenings when the day's activities are over and everyone else has gone to bed, but today it's an early morning time slot. Whatever works!

Richard Mabry said...

Carol, Good point. I'm currently re-reading Lawrence Block's The Liar's Bible, a compilation of columns he wrote for Writer's Digest. He says some writers like to work out before they write--doesn't work for him. He does his allotted amount (usually a couple of hours), then rewards himself with exercise. As you say, whatever works.