Hemingway always said that he stopped a day’s writing at a point where he was still interested in finding out what happened next. In other words, he didn’t write himself out in one session but held back something for the next day. I always thought this showed a lot of discipline. The closest I’ve come to this is jotting down some notes at the end of a day’s writing to guide me the next day. Usually when I’m rolling I stop only with great reluctance, either out of exhaustion or simply because I have to go to class, or work, or sleep, or something of that nature. Yet, I know the key to completing any long piece of writing is consistency over time, not an explosion of activity over a short period.
Stephen King demonstrates the same thing. Some people have accused him of hiring a ghost writer because he’s so prolific. But, instead, he writes about 2000 words a day, or 7 to 8 pages, but does this day in and day out, rarely missing a day or shorting himself on his quota. At this rate, he can turn out a 180,000 word novel in three months. (The math works; I calculated it myself.)
Reading about the disciplined habits of Hemingway and King tells me how I could be more productive myself. However, I know there are times when my school work keeps me from making any quota I might wish for. And there are times when I let other activities interfere with writing, although relaxation is also essential to life and one can’t work constantly. How about you? Do you already exhibit the kind of discipline that Hemingway showed, or that King shows? Or do you find that real life and the work that pays your bills keeps you from being consistent with your writing? What might you do to improve your writing productivity while still maintaining your home life and your sanity?