So the week before last I completed my new plot process and was quite happy about it.  I’d been worried that a more structured approach would kill the fun for me and, in using it, basically kill the novel for me.
So I used it on a test novel, taking an idea, fleshing it out, building it up, sweating out the middle bit where the front and end have to connect and coming up with something that felt like a real plot.
This had come about because the middle of the novel I’m currently working on just seemed to sag.  I’m sure it’s not as bad as I think but if writing has taught me anything, it’s that I should trust my instincts.  Four Realms was very well received and maybe that’s added some pressure but I want to build on that, improve on my craft and knock it out the park.  I see too many second novels that are not as good as the first and I have an opportunity to ensure that doesn’t happen.  Why would I pass that opportunity up?

So book 2 is in an ethereal state where it’s being pulled apart and the key scenes are being questioned.  I know what has to happen in this novel, but there’s lots of ways it can happen and I want the finished result to be the best.  A lot of this is thinking time.  It sometimes sounds crap to say that you’re working when you haven’t written a word, but there’s a lot to be said for a good walk and some good music in which to just dream.
In the meantime, because I feel itchy not writing anything, I spent last week doing a bit of an experiment.  I’ve started trying to log my writing, taking note of start and end times, number of words written and the effective words/hour rate.  I’m still not perfect at this (for example I keep forgetting to add things like blog posts to the list) but having data is going to prove useful, particularly if I want to be a writer who writes books in months rather than years.
I needed something to write and because I was curious as to how this intense planning impacts the actual fun of writing, I took the test novel and started to write it.
Now maybe because there’s no pressure on this or because I’m treating this as a dalliance, but I actually found that my productivity soared.  How much?  As much as 1500%!  I’m not writing particularly quicker (although I have limited data on this) but I’m finding it easier to dive in and able to do multiple sessions in a day, whereas before a single session would leave me wiped.
Now, this has to be countered with lots of buts.  It’s not what I am supposed to be writing, there’s no expectation, it may have been a good week, it’s the fun start of a novel, not the more difficult middle.  Indeed, this week I’ve had 2 busy days where I’ve only managed 150 words on it, so the data may be an anomaly.
I’ve found myself over the last two days wanting to write rather than thinking about what I should be writing and that’s a subtle but very important difference.  I also feel that I’m not working at my optimum.  Before I felt I should be writing more, now I feel I could be writing more.  But, as I said, this could be because things are shiny and new.  I need more data.
Whilst I’m in thinking stage with the main novel I may write some more of this.  I want to see whether I recover word count over the course of this week to match last week’s, and further afield I want to see whether I do these kinds of daily word counts on the main novel.
Once I’ve refined it a bit and I’m more confident that this is actually working (because the internet is full of bad advice), I’ll probably go into more detail of what the process is.  But in the meantime, I really, really advise keeping a spreadsheet of your writing.  Nothing too difficult, I just have a date, start and end time, number of words written, a calculation of the number of words per minute and a note of what it was and if I was distracted tired, etc.   If you want to improve your writing productivity, the more data you have from before you tried to change it, the better.  I wish I had more.