This week (Monday through Friday), I wrote approximately 14,000 words on Shock Loss. That’s almost double my output on an average writing week. And so far, it seems to be good, usable text that will actually make it to the final draft. (I hope.) This came as a part of some experimentation in my writing process.
Because my experiment has lasted only one week and I have not yet gone through the entire writing process from outline to publication, I can’t say anything definitive about long-term results. I don’t feel comfortable sharing all the details yet either. I’m still working them out. But so far my results are positive enough for me to continue the experiment and blog about some of what I learn.
Many of the changes I implemented are practical, common sense stuff, but some of what I attempted this week totally changed the way I approach book planning and writing.
Why did I decide to experiment? After going so long between Southern Fraud Thrillers, I wanted to write efficiently and write well. And to be honest, my writing process could use some refinement. I love drafting, but I always seem to end up with an enormous number of rewrites, which means a lot of cut text, which means quite a bit of wasted time and effort.
Okay, it’s not all wasted time. I’ve used cut scenes from one book in another book. Still, when I look at the amount of work that goes into one book, I cut a lot more text than I think I should. With better planning, that should change. That’s the theory at least.
My end goals are to
- Develop an Even, Maintainable Pace. I’d like to write at a pace that is neither so slow that the book never gets done nor so intense that I burn out. I don’t want to take months off after a book to recuperate.
- Keep a flexible schedule. I used to try to schedule out my time hour by hour, but that never works for my lifestyle.
- Have focused writing time. When I do sit down to write, I want to write as efficiently as possible. I don’t want to spend eight hours a day staring at the screen. That means better planning. More on that later.
- Minimize the number and intensity of rewrites. This is the biggie. I’d like to improve my early drafts so that I don’t spend so much time slaving over rewrites.
Here are some of the practical steps I implemented this week. These tips can apply to tasks other than book writing:
- Turn off Alerts/Ringers. This is every time-management guru’s first tip, but I never turned off my phone. I did so this week, and it made a difference.
- Turn on a Timer. I tried the Pomodoro method (25 minutes of work followed by a 5 minute break). I didn’t think it would work, but it was surprisingly effective.
- Track progress. Writing bloggers talk about this all the time too, and I never did it. I made a spreadsheet that records the number of words I write during each twenty-five-minute writing session. Seeing numerical results motivated me to beat my previous number, something that actually frees me to write without overthinking and overanalyzing every word.
- Plan for writing blocks, not daily schedules. I set up two one-hour writing blocks per day, but not together. I took breaks between each hour. (Yes, I only wrote for two hours each day.)
- Do something completely unrelated to writing between sessions. I like to do some physical activity–head to the barn for an hour, take a walk, clean something–between writing sessions. It gives my fingers a break and also provides time to marinate on the book. I do my thinking before I try to write. Crazy, huh?
After this week, I’m excited about writing again, and I even came up with new ideas for my next series. Of course, this could be a fluke. We shall see.
I’ll keep tracking next week and report back.