Monday, June 3, 2013

Writing – My Secrets

Many of you know I churn out a pretty high word count average per day. When I sit down to write I average 3,000-5,000 words. I don’t like to say pages because a page of narrative compared to a page of dialogue is so different that some days you’ll get 4-8 pages and others 10-15 depending on how much dialogue you wrote.

So, how do I do it? Since I started writing the Elemental Series I stopped treating writing like a hobby. That is the biggest question you need to ask yourself: Is writing a hobby for you? If it isn’t, if you plan to someday quit that day job and become a fulltime writer then you need to treat your writing like a job. I wrote the first three rough drafts of the first three books in the Elemental Series while working a full time job. I did not, by any stretch of the imagination, get 3-5k words a day during that time, but I forced myself to get 1k words, five days a week.

Because I was in the habit of writing 1k words a day (which averages out to 4 pages if you’re curious), when I lost my job due to the economy crash, it wasn’t difficult for me to demand more words of myself every day.

Now I’m a fulltime writer so of course I need to get a much larger word count. Yes, the house needs to be cleaned, the laundry needs doing, the dogs need walking, food needs to be cooked, time spent with my husband. All of that needs to be done, but you do all of that with a day job, right? Why make excuses to keep from writing? All of those things will still get done after you’ve allowed yourself time to write. Treat it like a job. If you called in sick every day to any other job, you’d eventually get fired, right? Right.

But how do I get that much written in a day, that’s the other question. I do not sit at my desk and write nonstop until I reach my word goal for the day. If I did, I would never get the numbers I get. Instead I carve out my words in chunks. There are a few different ways to do this, you just gotta figure out what works best for you.

I am very active on Twitter and like to have it open while I’m writing. I use it to report how much I’ve written and tell people I’m writing so if there’s someone else writing at that moment, they know they aren’t alone. It’s good to have a writing community.

When I first started this practice a popular challenge was #1k1hr – which means you’re committing to writing for one straight hour to get 1,000 words. This is cool, but it doesn’t always work for me. One straight hour, never looking away, never giving yourself a tiny break, gets to me. Like a cat with a laser pointer, I can’t focus.

I sprint. I write for 15 mins straight, or 20 minutes or 30. I never go longer than 30 without a break. In 15 mins I can write about 400-500 words. In 20 I can write 500-800 words and in 30 I almost always break the 1k mark and average 900-1300 words. But if you ask me to write for one hour straight I wont get much more than 1k because I slow down and want to do other things. It’s too much! Could you run as fast as you could for a whole hour? Do you think by the 40 min mark you’d be running just as fast as you were at the 15 min mark? Probably not. I look at writing the same way.

I sprint, usually with some writer friends, for a short block of time, then look away from the document. I check my email, twitter, stats, whatever. I take a 5-15 min break and then go again. But even if you only take a 5 min break, it will make a huge difference.

So that’s my big secret!

Figure out what works for you and do it. It doesn’t matter what you have to do to write, so long as you actually write.


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