I couldn’t think of a lamer title to capture my new commitment to write two short stories in every month.
Last night, I wrote about 3000 words after work. It took me 5 hours. And I was exhausted almost the entire time. Of course, the only reason I’m pushing myself to these limits is because of the Amazon contest (ABNA). From the get-go, I didn’t feel like writing. A long day at work and a long commute meant that the last thing I wanted was slogging out three thousand words. But I needed to find a way to do it.
I’m a flow writer usually. I do normal things and ruminate on the things I noticed throughout my day. Then I write about it. It’s hard for me to manufacture material without thinking about it thoroughly, but I also don’t take very many notes.
That’s not really possible when you’ve got a deadline to hit. So for those writers trying to hit a word count, here are some things that I do.
Anyone who hasn’t used a spreadsheet, probably has avoided it for personal reasons, but there are many good reasons why spreadsheets are your best friend. They:
- list characters and their traits
- map timelines and events
- easily modify according to your new ideas (read: move huge chunks of text)
- provide multiple sheets within a single document
- less mouse clicking means more typing time
- track word counts
2. Words Per Hour (WPH)
Just how fast can you type? Well, that doesn’t really matter. It only matters if your typing can keep up with and correctly interpret the weird things your brain wants. I can’t type that fast, but my speed as adjusted to what I’m thinking and expressing. It’s hard to keep that consistent over five hours.
It gets tiring, but if you set a goal every hour (or whatever preferable interval) you’ll find it markedly easier to push yourself. I set a modest goal of 600 WPH, or 100 words per 10 minutes.
100 words isn’t that much. A set of dialogue lines. A paragraph or two of setting or action. The segmenting keeps your foot to the gas pedal. Maybe you wrote that last 100 quickly? You reread it, make some adjustments, OH SNAP, the next interval just started, now I only have 8.5 minutes to write 100 words. And it goes and it goes.
3. Allow for breaks
You gotta keep fresh. As much as everyone loves hitting an inspired spurt of writing, giving yourself some breathing time will ensure that you don’t burn out. If you think you need a break, you probably do. Don’t bonk your head for inspiration when it’s run dry. Your head might explode.
Get some water, play with your pet, or in my case, watch some soap operas with my grandma. With a steady diet of breaks, you’ll find that when you sit back down, you’re ready to go again, and that is the type of groove you want.
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And that’s my super short list for staying energized (not necessarily inspired). While they may not be needed by those of us writing without deadlines, these can be helpful for maintaining a writing routine that lacks deadlines.
Just remember, set yourself straight, and the writing will come.