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Pace yourself

Slow down, relish the process, and you’ll write better, says Sophie Beal, arguing that targets are not necessarily in a writer’s best interests

Writers are often their own nightmare bosses.

If we laid as many unrealistic expectations on any other employee, we’d soon end up in a tribunal. Admittedly we’re often troublesome workers too. Some days, we sit around, producing very little.

Oscar Wilde was no better. ‘I have been correcting the proofs of my poems. In the morning, after hard work, I took a comma out of one sentence... In the afternoon I put it back again.’

There are many reasons we are unable to write at full capacity. We may be ill, exhausted, stressed or under pressure from our day-job. We may have competing commitments or our computer may be slow. And some pieces or sections of writing are difficult. They need more energy, thought and time than others. If we use standard measures of productivity, such as word count, we may be setting ourselves up for failure and discouragement.

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Slow down! Why word counts and targets aren't always good for your writing Synopsis secrets: The single page that will sell your book Top tips for every genre:- • Crime: Perfect pacemaking • Five ways to grow creatively as a children's author • Explore the new trend for genre-blending fantasy Masterclass: Study the style and stories of Henry Fielding, James Thurber, Rudyard Kipling and Roald Dahl Star interview: Anne O'Brien, the challenger to Philippa Gregory's crown WIN! A PC worth £600

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