My life is full. And I don’t want it any other way. I’m blessed to have such a rich, varied and full life.
But, oh! Life is full! And I need to get writing done.
I recently read a great book on productivity. Now, don’t let it scare you away, because it’s called, 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. It’s a $0.99 Kindle book, and it’s worth way more.
Here’s why. Rachel Aaron chronicles her story of going from very low productivity to extremely high productivity. She has a three-pronged approach.
Knowledge. Before Aaron sits down to write, she knows what she’ll write. In other words, she does extensive pre-writing before she starts to write. This involves developing the world, the characters, and outlining the plot. Beyond that, on the day she writes a scene, she’ll spend 5-10 minutes sketching out the scene. To put it in my terms, she decides on the major beats of the scene. What are the major bits of action, dialogue, and thoughts that must happen in this scene and in what order should they come?
I always emphasize the importance of prewriting. When I teach writing to kids, I spend the biggest chunk of time on the prewriting phase, making sure they know WHAT to write about. If you want to improve your writing, learn the discipline of prewriting. Aaron says that this alone will double your word count on any given day.
Time. Next Aaron started to pay attention to her best working times. She realized that she needed four hours of uninterrupted time and it was best to write in the afternoons. In order to figure this out, she kept statistics. I know – words and numbers. But numbers are often important in our work. Over a period of time, Aaron recorded the start/stop times for writing and the number of words per session. After accumulating data, she analyzed it to find her most productive times. Once you know that, it’s simple. Protect that writing time and make sure your friends/family help you protect it.
Enthusiasm. Finally, Aaron realized that some days she was more enthusiastic about her work than others. In studying the problem, she realized that she wasn’t excited about some scenes. Well – if the AUTHOR isn’t excited by a scene, why should a reader be excited, she reasoned. Turning back to the prewriting phase, Aaron decided that she wouldn’t write a scene ever again unless she was excited by something in the scene. Some turn of phrase, turn of events, twist of emotions or something. If she couldn’t find that enthusiasm, she’d cut the scene and work to find another version of the events that did excite her.
By the end, Aaron was writing 10,000 words/day – regularly. Prewrite. Write at your most productive times (and you only know that with data). And get and stay excited about your story. It’s easy!
I started my new novel today and wrote 1750 words! Far from Aaron’s 10,000 words/day, but I’m just getting started! She says that she also speeds up as the novel enters the last phase. it was a blast to write today because I was so excited to get started – with a new set of strategies that might actually push me to write faster – and better!