I’ve been thinking a lot about incremental writing lately. The basic idea is that you write a little at a time, and it adds up. It can happen in many different ways, and I thought I would take the length of a blog post to discuss some of them.
Blog Posts – Last year, I started compiling much of the writing that I’ve done on the web in various forums and pages. I’ve only just begun to compile this stuff. In the process I’ve been writing some about each of the pieces just to give perspective, and I’m up to 45 pages. There are a number of authors out there now who basically started by writing a blog each day, and then collected the good stuff and published (in some cases self published) a book (or more). I wrote in my compilation that this is nothing new. Newspaper columnists do this. Fiction authors do this by compiling their short stories into full length collections. It made me realize that I have a lot more writing than I ever realized, and I write a lot.
Writing Everyday – I read that Stephen King writes six pages a day. Later I read that he does 2,000 words a day (which is probably about six pages, as it’s almost four pages the way that I format Word). “Carrie,” King’s first published book, was 181 pages long in the printing I read. That would mean that he literally could have written a whole novel in a month, if he did write six pages a day, and all the writing was on the same project. Half a year is 182 and a half days (my theory as to the meaning of the band name Blink 182 by the way, as in half a year went by in a blink, I’m probably wrong though). The reason I bring this up is that even if King wrote one page a day, he had a novel in six months. If you are a novelist, yeah you, and you are making excuses about why you haven’t finished your novel yet, yeah me, then I just want to point out that you can write one in a month. Stephen Kings “It” is almost 1,200 pages. At six pages a day, that’s still less than a year. What are you waiting on?
Paperback Writer – The Beatles (and more specifically John Lennon and Paul McCartney) are considered to be some of the most prolific songwriters of all time. I don’t know who is the absolute most prolific. I heard Paul McCartney once say, “John and I got together and wrote the first hundred songs or so.” Miguel argued that they probably weren’t all good, but given the success of The Beatles, the bad ones that never were recorded probably don’t matter much. Writing one song a week, and taking two weeks off around the holidays (Christ and his birthday know that we don’t need anymore Christmas songs), one could write 100 songs over the course of two years, pick the best three of every ten and release three albums. Danny Elfman says that when he scores a movie, he writes a set number of measures each day, depending on what his deadline for completion is. When he writes for Boingo (formerly known as Oingo Boingo, formerly known as The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo) he waits for inspiration. He is considered to be one of the best scorers in the industry.
Letter Writing – While most of us can’t really publish our letters, I just wanted to point this out. I picked up a book called, “Reagan: A Life in Letters” It is approximately 1,000 letters out of what they believe is probably over 10,000 letters Ronald Reagan wrote in his lifetime. Just the letters alone in the book span 834 pages, and it’s small print. I’m willing to bet that as Reagan wrote letters over the course of his life that he never realized that he very possibly wrote ten good sized books. It’s kind of staggering when you think about it that way.
I guess the reason I bring this up is because in writing, and many other huge tasks in life, what you’re really looking at is a bunch of smaller tasks. I didn’t realize that on my own, but writing it out this way is my spin on it. There really are very few valid excuses in life. If there is anything you want to do, whether it’s write a book, or whatever, just get started. Do a little bit everyday if possible. Never quit anything that interests you, is possible to complete, and isn’t causing you harm.