So last weekend I wrote 18,412 words on the novel.
I also found time to go for a run twice, watch TV, write a 800 word blog post (pushing words written for weekend over 19,000), edit another article and start playing World of Warcraft again… amongst other things.
And you want to know the kicker? I don’t think I was anywhere as productive as I could have been.
So I can here you all ask, just how is this even possible?
Well, here’s the secret.
I’ve changed how I look at work. Before I had a day and a word count target. I would sit down at the computer of an evening and say “I am not getting up until I have written 2500 words”. Of course, this would be preceded by a whole lot of procrastination because at that moment in time my brain would decide it wanted to do anything BUT write.
And so I’d spend an entire evening in front of the computer looking at my current word count and how far away from my target I was, and I would get demotivated and start checking Facebook … and I’d have a thoroughly miserable evening.
What I changed was to break my work down into sessions. Here’s the complicated bit to get your head around – during sessions I do not care about word count. Doesn’t matter if I do 10 words or 1500. I just work for a set time.
Some of you might see this as being similar to something called the Pomodoro Technique, but I have one major difference.
Remember when I said in the last article that getting an idea of your natural writing time was important? Here’s why? Because I’ve set my sessions to be the length of my natural writing time (in my case 45 mins). As a result, just when I feel myself getting to a natural break… I find it IS the time for my break. Result: less stress, less resistance to write, less procrastination. Sometimes I’ll write for 40 mins, other times I’ll get to over an hour; the point is that is I get to around 45 mins and find myself wanting to stop, I’ll end the writing session there.
Now your natural writing time might be twenty minutes, it could be two hours. The point is that if you KNOW what it is and set your session length to match it will feel incredibly natural. Writing suddenly stops being this massive battle, and starts becoming more fluid, becomes fun again.
But here’s the thing. At the end of that writing session, I will do something else for a session. This is why I started playing World of Warcraft again. A couple of quests levelling a new character is perfect. Gives my mind a rest, recharges the batteries. In the past (I’ve done 10k in a day doing this method before so I know this is not just some fluke) I’ve swapped between fiction and non-fiction.
Because my brain knows that in 45 mins I can watch TV, or play a game or do whatever, sitting down to write is not such a big deal and I settle into it a lot quicker. Even on those days when words come like treacle, at the back of my mind is that I just have to do this for 45 mins and then I can go do something else.
So if I don’t care about the word count in my sessions, how do I make such awesome word counts by the end of the day? Because I will chain these sessions together, alternating between gaming and writing or between different writing projects and I simply cannot help but end up with word count AND a load of other stuff done.
Does quality suffer? Not as much as you might think. The only real block I’ve had is that I’ve made so much progress I’ve got to parts of the novel that aren’t as fleshed out as others. As a result I’ve had a couple of lean days since as I spend the time plotting out some more detail for the next act. But that’s work I would have had to do anyway. I just got to it much sooner than expected. So long as I keep close to my set time length for sessions and take breaks away, I’m finding my quality doesn’t dip.
Does this mean I want to organise my entire life in blocks of 45 minutes then? No, not at all. This is just something I slip into if I want to get writing done. Just as I previously might have said I wanted to spend an entire evening writing, so I now will spend an evening breaking my writing into 45 minute chunks.
And here’s where last weekend I failed at my own process. Had I been better at ensuring that a writing session was every other session I reckon I would have been looking at a 20-25k weekend. Instead I was following a writing session with a TV session with a Warcraft session. If I’d planned a little better with my organisational process that I detailed in part 1, I could have ensured writing was every other session and got more writing done.
And yes, I wrote 18,000 words and feel a little pissed off with myself for not being more productive. Isn’t that a wonderful position to be in?
The Process Stage 3: Serious Word Count
So last weekend I wrote 18,412 words on the novel.
You’ve got more discipline than I! If I switch back & forth I stay with the not-writing thing. OTOH, I can write for 10-12 hours straight given a chance (minus food, bathroom & stretching breaks) without hitting that wall, so obviously it’s all in what works for an individual. That’s an amazing wordcount, man!
I think like every bit of writing advice or technique, the trick is to take what’s said and adapt it to yourself (or completely ignore it!).
Wish I could write for 10-12 hours straight. That’s incredible. My procrastination muscle gets twitchy after 20 minutes!
It helps if I know exactly what I’m doing, but yeah. It’s great when I get the rare chance to do it! 🙂