Thursday, May 30, 2013

So You Want to Write More

So You Want to Write More

You’d like to have more of an output that you currently have. More titles to submit. More releases. Here are some tips that might be helpful.

1. Schedule yourself. Now when I say this, I don't mean that you have to write every day from 2-3pm. That may not work for your life if you have kids or a part time job or whatever. What I do mean is that a great way to increase your output is to make daily and weekly page or word count goals. If you know that you need to write 20 pages a week, which would amount to 4 pages a day, 5 days a week, then it might help you get that bottom in that chair every morning. Think about it! Every time you hit that four pages, it's a celebration. You made your goal. And if you write over your goal? Well, that means you can either take a day to slack off or you will end up over your goal at the end of the week and that much closer to "the end".

But how do your figure out what is the right goal for you? Because there isn't some magical number. Your goal has to be realistic or else you're going to be disappointed.

My first suggestion is to take a few test runs. As I said earlier, lots of times writers get discouraged when they embark on a new plan because they have it in their head that they have to know exactly what to do the moment they start! It's not true. You've got to test 
yourself out, try some things, and eventually you'll find what is comfortable for you.

So on day one, write normally. Don't worry about output, just write. When you're done for the day, check out your page count or word count and record it. For the next week, do that same thing. Just figure out exactly how much you are writing each day. At the end of that week, do an average. That's a really lax, comfortable page goal for you. So whether that's one page a day or 15, now you know.

But you don't stop there. Next week, write harder. Like, really hard. Try to write as hard as you can, as many pages as you can. Do it every day for the week and then get another average. That's how many pages you can write while you're really focusing and struggling.

So if you're trying to increase your page output (which is why lots of you are following this class), you'll want to try something in the middle. So if your easy page output was 2 pages a day and your hardcore output was 5, maybe you'll want to start with the goal of 3 pages a day, five or seven days a week. Let's say you actually do that. That's 15 pages a week (if you only write on weekdays). That means that in 24 weeks (6 months) you could have a 90,000 word book in your hand that you finished! If you increase THAT output by only 
one page a day, you're looking at a finished book in just 4.5 months!

Just by knowing what you're capable of, you can set a reasonable goal.

2. Once you have your goal, have a friend and a reward. One great way to stay on track is to find a friend who also has a goal and report to each other. Support each other, cheer for each other, talk each other off the ledges. This isn't a critique partner (though she might 
also be that)! This is a writing buddy.

Along with your writing buddy, also have rewards. A friend and I used to send each other a silk flower every time the other finished a book. But also have rewards for other things, like finishing meeting your page goal each week or finishing a chapter or completing a 
hundred pages. These don't have to be huge things. A day out with a friend, a new pair of shoes, an ice cream cone, a day to sit in the bath and read a great book or a night out at the movies with your spouse, whatever it is, celebrate your little victories.

3. Stretching. Once you have your weekly goal and you're making it pretty regularly, it might be time to think about stretching. Yes, you might know that you are now able to complete a book in 6 months at your current pace, but maybe you want to do it faster without breaking your creative bank. Why not set a week and try to double your goal. Or add a page to each day? If you really want to see yourself in action, try doing a BIAW (Book in a Week) or NANO (a novel in a month) type challenge?

If you gave yourself an extra push just once every book, you could really see big results in your output. Plus, it might challenge you to increase your regular weekly goal. It's amazing what we CAN do when we say we will.

4. Try something new. This is one thing that many writers forget. They get into a rut and that's how they work. And they will keep working the same way, even when they're stuck, bored and frustrated.

Stop the cycle! If you are writing a book and you just can't get the pages to flow, try writing a different way. Plot. Or stop plotting. Write the book longhand on legal sheets. Go to your local library to write. If you've been writing in the morning, start writing at night. Shake yourself up. I don't think I've written any of my books (and I've written probably close to 25) the same exact way! I have a basic system now that works for me, but some books are morning books, some are night books. Some books are 10 pages in a flow books and some are "1 page here and there until I want to scream with joy when I reach my page goal" books.

Each book has a different plot and different characters, so if it's not working, why not allow yourself a little different atmosphere? It just might change the way you write and help you find a new groove.

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