As we came to the end of National Novel Writing Month, one of the writers in my region posted this article by Rachel Aaron about how to go from writing 2,000 words a day to 10,000.
At that rate, you could write a novel (50,000 words) in five freaking days!
Is it possible?!
After toiling away on my novel for three years, the idea of upping my game appeals to me. I want to finish!!!
I completed NaNoWriMo for the first time this year (YAHOO!) but that was hard! And that was just 1,667 words per day. How the heck can I keep this up, so I get this stinkin’ book done, finally? (And in your lovely hands?!)
I see this article as the way, as my “challenge accepted.” What’s involved?
The Game Plan
First of all: I love the name of her blog.
Secondly, Rachel Aaron/Bach has three main suggestions. These are also in a helpful graphic in her post. Go check it out!
1. Know what you’re writing before you sit down to write.
She suggests writing it out on a pad of paper before you write.
2. Keep track of your writing time in a spreadsheet.
Statistics help! We’ve seen this with FitBit and Nano, so it makes sense. She recommends two months of tracking.
3. Get excited about what you’re writing today.
She realized that the most word count came when she wrote the scenes she’d been thinking of since conception of the novel. That makes sense, and I like how she put it!
Writing Results So Far
Lo! I’ve done pretty well. So far in December, I’ve written 15,042 words – just on my novel, not on all the blogs/texts/emails/books about Kanye I also write each day. I’ve averaged 3,000 words a day this month. I’ve also averaged 1832 words per hour, in the seven writing sessions I’ve had so far. Rachel said her wph was 500-1500, which I just reread, so wow, I guess that’s pretty amazing!
All of that comes from my handy dandy tracker. I’ve been using it for about a week now, and I really like opening it at the beginning of each session as a bit of a ritual, without going right into the novel.
My columns are: Date | Time | Location | Words Written | Hourly Rate | Pages | Music | Food | Kind of Sit/Distractions | Notes.
When I log in for the day, no matter how I’m feeling, and I see the previous day’s word count, I’m like, “oh yeah …” And get a little bit more energizy. After I insert my stats for the day, I see my progress. I also parse out the statistics (most productive time of day, best playlist, etc.) If I really want to nerd out, there’s the potential for GRAPHS and such in the future! Woot woot! (Nerd Alert!)
Hand Writing Ideas Helps
Part of the insane word count I get is that I type crazy fast. Like, fast enough that people comment on it when they see me typing on my phone. Still, I very much like her suggestion to start the beginning of each session with a quick, handwritten list of what that day’s scene(s) will be about. There’s something about the magic of handwriting, especially for writers, that is undeniable. This has really helped me focus and then dive in for the day. Thumbs up to this suggestion, too!
So, not going to lie … this one has been the hardest of the three. I think that comes from these ideas fermenting, and me writing or thinking some version of them, for like, 3 years. Overdone, much?
That’s not entirely true. I like that I’ve been able to get to about 3,000 words and stop, no matter where I am in the scene. I can see what’s coming next, which makes writing about it first in a notepad at the top of tomorrow’s writing sesh super easy. So it becomes this sweet self-perpetuating cycle!
I can get pumped about finishing this freaking book. And upping my word count as freaking awesomely as I have – and committing to a daily practice – is giving me the energy I need to get ‘er done.
One of the hardest things about writing a novel is that it seems Sisyphean. There’s so MUCH to write, and even 3,000 words is just 3% of a novel. Just sitting down that day will not mean I’ve “finished my novel” by the end of the work session. In journalism and PR, we have short, tight projects with measurable and attainable goals. It can be overwhelming and hard to start. It’s probably why most people don’t write that book they’ve “been meaning to” or “always wanted to.”
Then, many of the things I have read about professional authors, and even Rachel in her blog, say that they sit down “at least four hours a day and write.” My eyes bug out at that. For multiple reasons.
One: I’m traveling around the country, so that’s a huge chunk of daylight that I could devote to sightseeing.
Two: that’s a huge chunk of time to get over my overwhelm, and be poring out my heart and soul.
It seems silly, having come from 8+ hours professionally at a computer, not to mention glued to my cell phone.
But fiction writing is different. It’s a totally different habit and set of issues to face. Frankly, I’m proud of building up to about an hour and a half solid writing (which, to hit 3,000 words can sometimes end up being 2 or 2.5 if I’m particularly ungrounded.) And I know the trials of trying to write on top of a full-time job, or trying to wake up early to write before that full-time job, etc.
So I’ll take this success and keep it up. Who knows? Maybe one day I can build up to four hours. Ole!