Whenever I do manage to write regularly, there are some self-imposed rules I try to follow, and then others that I don’t. Then there are others still that I discover along the way, even if I’ve known of them previously.
Firstly, I’ve tried to follow the 500 words per day dictum, and have been met with only modest success. It’s not that I can’t physically write 500 words a day, but doing so, day in and day out, really wears me down after a while. I would guess it’s the whole “quota” aspect of it. Lately, I’ve tried sticking to about 500 words a day on average, but have focused more on the time I’m putting in as opposed to a word count. Saying that I devote, say, about 20-30 minutes a day to writing new stuff gives me the time needed to continue writing, but without having to check a word count tool every few minutes for whether or not I’ve gotten to some kind of established finish line.
Secondly, there’s the dictum about writing what you know. This is one of those rules I patently DON’T follow. I have never understood nor particularly agreed with this concept, as there would be no science fiction or fantasy without it, for one. For another, my life as it is is pretty mundane. That’s not a complaint, it’s just the truth. I work, I come home, I hang out with my friends and loved ones, and I play a lot of video games whenever I’m not writing. I have no problem incorporating some of these elements into my fiction, but it’s not like I’ve ever been a monster slayer, or had spider-powers (much as I might wish for them). Hell, I’ve only ever fired a gun a couple of times, but I don’t feel like I know now how the mind of a sharpshooter or an international assassin works.
So, I tend to wing it.
I can do research and interview people to back up what I write, but otherwise, I’m very much just playing things by ear. Because otherwise, my stories simply won’t get written.
Finally, there’s the rule I haven’t followed much, but probably should.
Often, when I come to write, I’m an emotional blank slate. I can sometimes induce feelings in the course of writing, and sometimes it feels like I’m just trying to fill space, or entertain myself. Other times, rarer times, I come to the desk with an overriding emotion in place: anger, sadness, joy, curiosity, and so on. And when I set those feelings into my fingertips and onto the keyboard–man, what comes out is often so cathartic.
I need to do this more often. I need to develop a habitual trigger that brings me to the keyboard whenever I’m in a state of high emotions, because even though it’s often frightening to put to words whatever I may be feeling, it also makes for easier (and I would argue better) writing in general. When I let the feelings out through my stories, they feel a lot more genuine, more connected to me personally, and they also just tend to flow from me a lot quicker.
I think if I can just let fly some of those emotions onto the paper of my choice, I can do a better job of meeting the first rule (500 words a day, 20-30 minutes a day) and flouting the second (write only what you know).
Just some thoughts.