January 12, 2009

Writing Tip 13: Exercise, says Clea Simon

My guest author today is the real "cat's meow."

Clea Simon, author of the four-book "cat-centric" mystery series featuring freelance writer Theda Krakow, likens writing to exercise. Use it or lose it, right?

Writing Tip 13: Write every day, Monday through Friday

Simon says, "the ability to write is like building a muscle. The more you exercise it, the easier it will become.

"Set a goal for the day – 500, 1,000 words, two pages, three, or five – and make yourself do that every workday, five days a week, even when you have other things due. Do it even when your day job goes into overtime.

"Some days you'll have absolutely no ideas and you'll end up trying to come up with a space-filler scene in which your protagonist eats donuts and watches TV. But some days you'll have something to write – and you'll have the discipline to do it.

"If you keep at it regularly, you will cobble together enough raw text to make a first draft. And that's when the fun starts."

** How much "writing exercise" do you do each week?

-- Clea Simon is the author of CRIES AND WHISPERS, and the upcoming PROBABLE CLAWS (Poisoned Pen Press, April '09).

In PROBABLE CLAWS, the fourth Theda Krakow mystery, cats start getting sick and feline-loving freelance writer Theda Krakow suspects an accident is to blame. But her shelter-owning buddy says the kibble was poisoned.

When Theda starts looking at shelter politics, she finds a litter of suspects. Now she must find the real killer before she, and Musetta, become the next victims.

* Previous: Writing Tip 12: What Inspires You?


  1. Good advice. When I'm in full all out WIP mode I write min. 2 thousand words a day. But always at least 1,000, whether a blog post(s), essay, or part of a ms.

  2. Good for you, Marvin! Did you set yourself the 1,000 word minimum or did that naturally evolve? I'm starting on a new project and I'm trying to do at least 1,500 words a day, starting today. We shall see..

  3. You guys are making me tired.ha! Well I can do at least 1-2,000 a day if I really concentrate, but problem is, I have to do the other 'paying' writing too, so I have to split myself up. Sometimes hard to switch gears.

  4. It can be extremely hard to switch gears, Chris! I sympathize with that - and since I do a lot of nonfiction writing for money, I do know what you're talking about. But if you can just squeeze out that fiction time for yourself it does all add up. I now have a pretty good rough draft of a new mystery on hand. Started it after Labor Day, took a bunch of days off for holidays -- but still have an 81,000 word manuscript by doing 1,000 words a day. Start now and you could have a complete manuscript by beginning of May!

  5. I know... I am halfway there, keep setting it aside. ha! You guys will keep me motivated!

  6. I never count, just sit down in the morning and start writing. Sometimes I end up leaving comments on blogs, but they don't count for much except to show that I'm weary.

  7. I wonder how a words-per-day goal would translate into an illustration goal...

  8. Great advice. Now if I would only follow it. . .

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