Posted in General, writing

Daily Writing Habits

One of the most common pieces of advice thrown around for writers is to write daily. There’s no arguing that even just a hundred words a day will add up at the end of the year (you’d have just over thirty-six thousand to be exact). The key to that however, is in not missing a day.

Sometimes, sitting down at the keyboard for an hour or more just isn’t possible every single day. There are days where I struggle to find even a half hour, and frequently it’s in little scattered chunks of time. Five minutes here, ten minutes there. Tiny chunks that get interrupted.

The key to making writing a daily habit is often in size. I can’t always sit down and hammer out three thousand words a day—but I can certainly find fifteen minutes to scribble something down.

By keeping my daily habit small, it’s manageable. Even when I’m just not in the mood to write, having a small goal means I can be done with it and move on to the next thing. And sometimes having that fifteen minutes is enough to find my groove and get into a flow.

Sometimes, writing doesn’t actually mean writing. There are dozens of workbooks out there that ask all manner of good questions about your story, your scene, your setting, your characters and anything else in your story. It’s not a bad idea to consider answering one or two or even three of those questions a day when you’re not actively putting words to the page. It helps sharpen your craft and polish your story.

  To set a reasonable daily habit for yourself, take a few minutes and consider all the things you have to do on the daily. Include things like household chores, cooking, caring for children and the hours you spend at work. Now, consider how quickly you can write. What is the smallest possible number you can write in five minutes? Set that as your daily goal.

As a back-up for those days where writing just isn’t going to happen: Find or make a list of general questions to try and answer for every story you write. Consider things like identifying themes, recurrent messages, character motivations. Scale these questions up to be story-encompassing, and down to cover scene-level details. Set an alternate goal to answer a couple of questions (even if you don’t write the answers down right away) on your non-writing days.

What do your daily writing habits look like?

Posted in worldbuilding

Worldbuilding: Daily Life

One of the places that gets overlooked in worldbuilding and how it affects character development is daily life. Despite that it seems simple, it can and should impact your characters and their interactions with one another. Their day-to-day habits aren’t going to simply go away just because they’ve been thrown headfirst into an adventure, and certain aspects of it are impacted by various social demands.

Some of the basic things you need to consider are hygiene. How often do they bathe? Is this a private thing, or something more public such as a bathhouse or a shared tub among the family? This also applies to beauty routines, and not just for women either: beards need care and so do teeth. Bad breath isn’t going to land your protagonist a date if he’s got food stuck in his face.

Aside from bathing, chores are another thing to consider and look at. Not only does housework include things like cleaning and cooking, but also yard work and animal husbandry.  Class division affects daily chores as well. Someone who’s entire job it is to cook and clean for a family of five will not only have those chores, but the care of their own living space as well. Gender bias is still another factor as some chores will be seemingly ‘inappropriate’ and socially unacceptable for some family members to take care of.

Chores also include shopping and managing the budget.  Regardless of who your protagonist is, if his shopping hasn’t been taken care of, he’s not going to be eating dinner. In settings where electricity and water aren’t in every house, you still have bills such as rent, taxes and groceries. This is especially true if there are animals to take care of. On a rough average, a horse will eat between ten and twenty pounds of forage a day. Goats need roughly two to four pounds of feed per day.

The expenses need to be offset by some form of income. Daily life also includes work and jobs, many of which will take your characters away from their house. In exchange they’re paid, but how much they’re paid and how they acquire it affects their ability to pay for goods and services.

Yet another place to look at might be childcare. In the earliest ages, children are heavily dependent on their parents and as a result there’s things like feeding, bathing and clothing a child to take care of multiple times a day in addition to everything else that needs to be done.

While adults and parents are working however, children face education. Homeschooling and public schooling are relatively low-cost options, but each one comes with its own challenges. Higher education and private schooling will provide more opportunities, but also cost more.

Daily life has a lot of factors in it to consider when developing characters. Day-to-day concerns change with time, technological advances and class, but understanding where your character comes from in their world gives you a better grasp on who they are and how they act as a person.

As an exercise: Set a timer for fifteen minutes and free write a typical day in the life of your character or characterss. Consider things they have to do like errands, chores and working either for money or education.