I know that a bunch of you have read Rachel Aaron’s post about going from 2,000 words a day to 10,000 words a day, and if not, you should. Here it is, for the uninitiated. Let me start by saying that I have only implemented a small part of what Rachel talks about in her blog, and I’ve implemented it partially and in my own twisted fashion, because that’s what I do. And I’ve STILL gone from struggling to hit 2,000 words/day to crushing 4,500 words/day in a week. This might not work for everyone, but it’s turning out pretty awesome for me, because I’ve found out quickly that there’s more to the writing life than just sitting chained to my computer every day and working my nuts off. There’s plenty of that, but the rest of the world can be just as intrusive into your writing time as a day job can be, and it’s sometimes easier to carve out writing time at night after work when it’s looked upon as a second job, than when it’s what you were supposed to be doing all day in the first place, not managing social media, making a run to the landfill with a truckload of scrap lumber, dealing with the exterminator, figuring out insurance bullshit about the break-in last week and going to a non-profit board meeting. Which was my day yesterday.
But here are the pieces of Rachel’s monster post (because even she’ll admit that she’s wordy, and VERY scientific in her approach to writing, which is awesome if you can pull it off and process it, but if you’re a loosey-goosey goofball like me, it’s a little hard to assimilate the whole thing in one go.) that helped me double my word count in just a few days. Not to mention a tactic of my own. Like everything on the internet, your mileage may vary.
Don’t you hate it when people write parentheticals that are longer than the main body of the sentence? Yeah, me neither.
Step 1 – Know what you’re going to write.
Yes, I realize that this is ONE point of the diagram in Rachel’s blog post. That’s why I linked it in the first paragraph. I totally told you I learned this stuff sitting on panels and talking with her. I didn’t invent it, I just bent it to work for me. I outline all my long-form fiction anyway. I get lost in my own narrative if I don’t, so I have to make a rough outline. But now, instead of just looking over at the outline when I’m working, I go one step further. Before I put fingers to keyboard for the day, I open a little journal on my desk and I write down what happens in the scene. It really does help me focus, and it I get lost in my dialogue it helps me stay on track. I often find that I can pre write twice as much in my journal as I can actually write, so I really only have to do this every couple of days. But it helps me plow through the saggy middle bits, keeping them tighter, and helps keep me on track so I don’t get distracted by the internet, or my cats, or my Squirrel of Mass Distraction.
This is the Squirrel of Mass Distraction. It’s Allan Gilbreath’s fault. If you come to Fandom Fest, I’ll explain.
This is one of my cats. You see what I mean about being easily distracted?
But anyway. That’s one piece of Rachel’s method that I’ve adopted, and not only has it upped my daily word count, it’s upped my hourly word count by 50%. I was plowing along at about 1,000 words/hour, which according to my fellow panelists at ConCarolinas, is a pretty standard pace for writers who think of themselves as writing pretty quickly.
Now I can get out 1,500 words/hour if I’m cooking along. That’s huge. That means more time for Buffy! More time for reading! More time to write other projects!
And that’s my Step 2 – Write more than one thing at a time. I’ve demonstrated quite handily that I have the attention span of a gnat’s ass, and honestly, I can only do about two hours of real writing time at one sitting. So I get up in the morning, deal with all my social media stuff, wish a bunch of people happy birthday on Facebook (yes, if you want a Happy Birthday wish from your favorite author, I don’t know how to help you. But if you want a Happy Birthday wish from me, friend me on Facebook and as long as your birthday doesn’t fall on a day I’m at a con or away from my computer, it’ll probably happen.), and write a blog post if I haven’t blogged in a few days.
There I go with long parentheticals again. Oh well, it’s kinda my thing.
But then I work on a short story. Either Bubba story, a Black Knight something, or something for an anthology. Last week I wrote my entry for my Big Bad Anthology, and those were some unappealing characters, lemme tell you. But I knocked out 1,000 words every morning, and then moved on with my day. Later on, I’ll come back and do 1,500 words on Return to Eden Book 2 – Exodus. And once I’m done with that, I move on to my next book, As Yet Untitled Thing with Dragons, Teenagers and Lots of Kissing. Which really isn’t any worse than some titles I’ve seen.
But that’s the key for me – multiple projects. I’m a bit of a flake (I know, quelle surprise!) and I can’t focus on one project to the elimination of all others when I’m writing. There are a LOT of ideas banging around in my head, and if I’m only letting one of them out at a time, the rest of them get cranky and give me gas. And that doesn’t make anyone happy, particularly not the cats.
DAD! You cannot Dutch Oven me, and run away before I get a chance to bite your toes! That’s not fair!
I would express some faint hope that my readers find fart humor as funny as I do, but given the fact that my second best-selling title this month features BUBBA THE MONSTER HUNTER, I think I’m probably okay.
So really, that’s all I’ve done to more than double my word count in the past couple of weeks. I pre write the scene I’m going to work on, and I keep multiple projects going. Those are my two keys. I hate to think how productive I’d be if I did everything Rachel blogged about, but for now I’ll stick with the old “under promise and over deliver” strategy.
Bugger, this 1100-something words (plus 3,000 for pics) doesn’t count towards my word limit.