So a few authors and I were talking about a week ago, about this article about going from writing 2k words a day to 10k. We all expressed interest in getting *better* word counts, rather than necessarily wanting 10k word days. The consensus was that we would all give it a go, see what we could adjust in order to tweak our writing counts.
If you want to see what all the other writers had to say about the experiment, check out Holly Black’s tumblr post, it’s got links to everyone. (It’s 4 am and I’m feeling lazy, sorry.)
I was in a weird place, because while most of this was being discussed, I was either packing for New York, or already IN New York (it’s hard to remember that far back.) (Yes, shut up, ten days ago qualifies as ‘that far back.’ I’ve been busy). So I planned on starting once we got back.
It was also weird for me because I had several things to juggle. I was actually writing a WIP, which isn’t contracted to anything. I also had a June 15th deadline for something neat. And finally, I also had to work on the outline for the third Witch Eyes book, because that one is due at the end of the summer, and I really need to get moving on that. In the middle of the project, copyedits showed up, which was another thing to juggle.
Just a general idea of how I usually work – when I’m not at the day job, I’ll write in spurts. There’s a morning/early afternoon session, a late afternoon session, and usually a short session in the evening. Since I had three things on my plate, I was only able to really work on the WIP during my mornings. Also, having the day job severely curbs any and all attempts at writing. And after the first few days, I realized I needed to devote more time to the Friday deadline, as well as copyedits for Demon Eyes showing up in my email, so I only really got 4 days of work in.
What I did:
I spent 5-10 minutes blocking out the scene I was going to write, before I actually wrote it. I sketched out short details, maybe a couple of lines of dialogue, and any key points I knew I needed to hit during the scene. I think this was the biggest aid to getting a solid block of writing done. Normally my outlines are short – I have a general idea of the direction but I never spend THAT much time really putting it all together in my head before I start writing. I had fewer bottleneck moments while writing this week, where I had to stop and regroup to figure out what I needed to write next. I can see this helping out a lot in the long run.
I wrote in short, half hour sessions. I’ve noticed that when I word war with other authors, the time limit actually makes me write MORE, because I stop dithering around with what the best word choice would be (which then leads to thesaurus.com and from there to Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter, and suddenly 2 hours have gone by), and just wrote the darn thing. So short sessions really work for me. I usually average about 500-1000 words in a half hour on a usual day.
I blocked out the internet. I went for the lame person’s approach, and didn’t ACTUALLY block the internet. But I DID turn on the full screen feature on Scrivener, AND I set myself a timer on my iPod so I knew when I was supposed to be stopping. The only rule was that I couldn’t check anything until the timer went out, and for the most part I stuck to it. I am, however, seriously considering Mac Freedom (is it just called Freedom if it’s for PC? Hrm).
I changed my music. I tend to listen to songs and themed playlists while drafting, and then instruments and scores while revising. But lately, when I listen to playlists, I get sucked up into the words, and start focusing more on them than on the writing. So this week, I played the Snow White and the Huntsman score, and then the Avengers when action was called for. It was much less distracting.
The actual breakdown:
First full day back from New York, and settling in took some time. I had to run errands, then I had pre-established plans to go see Snow White, so that ate up part of my afternoon, but I did a half hour round of writing before switching over to essay-work and then outlining big scenes from Phantom Eyes.
11 am to 11:30 -Total words: 691
7:15 pm to 7:45 pm – Total words: 975
Again, another day with a lot going on outside of the writing. There was a lot of going back and forth through Witch Eyes and Demon Eyes to familiarize myself with things that needed to be elaborated on, and themes I wanted to hit with the third book.
10:30 pm to 11:00 pm – Total words: 1076
Finally started to put the outline into some kind of order, and take it from the Scrivener notecards stage to the actual “I can almost see how this book will play out” stage. Essay was coming together as well, so that was good.
2:45 to 3:15 pm – Total words: 671
3:30-4:00 – Total words: 904
Return to the day job, and it missed me so much. I still managed to get some writing done, but I had to fit it in around the rest of my schedule. Big drop in words today, and most of that came in the last minute panic of trying to get SOMETHING down. Half hour writing sessions may not be advisable on work days. I might need to schedule an actual hour or so, because a half hour seemed like not enough time.
9:00 to 9:20 am – Total words: 472
11:00 pm – 11:30 Total words: 497
Copyedits arrived for DEMON EYES, and I officially had to drop the writing part of my week. Too many things going on, and not enough time to write.
In the last 3 weeks of May, with no sort of writing structure whatsoever, I only managed to write about 6,000 words. 6,000 words in 3 weeks. By forcing a little more responsibility onto myself, and giving myself more of a structured writing system, I wrote over 5,000 words in 4 days. I think that once a few of the additional things that fell into my lap are removed, and I have more time to focus on just one project, I’ll be able to increase that word count dramatically.
All the changes I made seemed to really work for me, and none were so jarring that they took anything away from my writing.