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Author: Subject: [07/09/12] Pep Talk #1: Words > Time = Easy as Pie!
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[*] posted on 7-9-2012 at 10:10 PM
[07/09/12] Pep Talk #1: Words > Time = Easy as Pie!


Hi! I have no idea when this peptalk is going to be going out to the Republic of JulNo, so congrats on making it this far -- even if it's only day two; your commitment to signing up, starting, and sticking around long enough to read this is amazing! People should envy your determination and motivation to stretch your creative muscle. Back on track, today, I'm going to talk to you about something that I am, personally, very familiar with and that is Writing Way too Many Words in WAY too Few Days.

I'm sure you've all seen the threads on the NaNo forums in November for the "overachievers;" I am, quite proudly, one of their kind. I am here today to share with you some of my top secret information that may -- or may not, YMMV -- help you in becoming more like one of us. (I'm totally imagining you all ooh'ing and ahh'ing right now, so you'd better actually be doing it...)

I've been known to write 50k a week and still live to tell the tale... And have a day and a half off on 31 July so I could prep / rest up in order to do AugNo the month immediately after. I promise, it's possible -- and even probable -- even for those of us with familial, work, and other obligations outside of our offices / bedrooms or away from our computers.


Tips and Tricks
#1 -- Don't Think About Your Word Count!

I know, this seems a little silly to put into a peptalk / cheat sheet for getting high word counts in short amount of time, but it works! Set yourself goals in terms of the plot / pacing of the story instead of with the count and you'll be surprised at how quickly your goal jumps up. For me, since I'm writing in chapters, I don't check my word count until the end of a chapter. Or, if I have limited time / a lot to do that day, I'll sit down and go "Okay, I'm going to write until "x" happens in my plot. I write that and then look at the word count. Sometimes, it jumps by less than 1k, sure, but sometimes, I'll have banged out 5k and not even realize until I'm finished!

#2 -- Find a Competitor!
This is my favorite one. Find someone else with a goal close to yours and don't stop writing until you're ahead of them on the word count chart. With JulNo, this is especially great because you don't even have to know the person you're competing with, just pull up the rankings (http://julnowrimo.com/index.php?page=stats) and find your name. Pick someone 5 places above yours -- or if you're going for an intense challenge, the person in the lead -- and keep writing until you're ahead. Finish a chapter, update your word count, and refresh the page to see if you've gained on them. Keep going until you have! Along the same lines, hang out in the #julnowrimo chat room and participate in word wars. Knowing that everyone else is typing at a breakneck speed in the room will make you want to do your best, so when you share your word count at the end of the time limit you're not embarrassed by how much you've slacked off!

#3 -- Small Goals / Small Rewards = Big Progress!
With writing this many words, you're going to encounter some days that are much, much, much, easier than others. On those days that every single word you write feels like such a struggle: reward yourself for doing anything at all. This is one of the few times that I will turn on and pay attention to my word count all day long. Every time I hit 500 words, I get a reward. Today's reward? Dots. Every 500 words, I get three Dots. Sometimes, it's bathroom / stretching / twitter breaks. Sometimes it's getting to play video games for 15 minutes [which I will often save up and use all at once. Oh, I did 3,500 words today, that means I have 1 hour and 45 minutes of gaming before bed! Whatever it is that will motivate you, set it somewhere that you can see it and are tempted by it, but don't let yourself partake until your words are done. (500 words is also a negotiable value. I can do that easily in about 10 minutes, so I use that. Not everyone types like a ridiculous person though, so, YMMV on that value. Use something appropriate to your writing speed and maybe make a goal for yourself by the end of JulNo to have raised that benchmark.)

#4 -- Plan Ahead!
Now, this is something that won't work for everyone, but I've found that if I have at the very least a bare bones outline of my novel going into the month, I write a ton faster than I do when I'm pantsing. Take my series novels, for example. They all end up being somewhere in the 80k-95k range. If I have an outline, I can easily get one done in about three weeks (as a zero draft, mind you), whereas the ones without a definite outline and just ideas in my head where I want them to go? At least two months, maybe even longer if I lose interest. So, planning ahead, even just a little bit, is definitely a help in writing a lot of words very quickly.

#5 -- Come in with Multiple Potential Ideas
If you're going for something over 50k, you're going to need at least a second novel, if not more than that. Have all of your basic ideas ready to go when you start the month so you're not wasting time poking around in your brain looking for the next book. And, this way, if you're having a rough day on one novel, maybe the other one will work out better. Switch it up!

#6 -- Take Breaks!
Like #1, this seems a little weird to put in this peptalk, but when you're doing as much typing as you're going to be doing, your wrists, fingers, and computer are all going to need a break. Go for a walk, take a shower, lay out in the sun and read a book or swim. Just, get away from the actual physicalities of writing for a little while. Continue thinking about it, if you'd like -- plan out the next scene, imagine conversations, whatever you'd like... But give your body a break from what it's been doing. I also recommend icing your wrists after a particularly high word count day. They will thank you for it in the long run!

#7 -- Have Fun!
This is probably the biggest motivator of them all -- enjoy what you're writing! If the novel sucks, save the words, start a new page, and try again. The ideas were probably good, but the execution? Well, sometimes we make bad choices and need a redo. Don't waste all of the efforts and hard work you've already put in, but don't force yourself to work on something that isn't flowing. Save the document, close it, and come back a different month when you're not racing the clock to get things done. Maybe it's the type of story that needs more detailed attention and research... Whatever the reason, don't fight your instincts. If you hate the novel, it's going to show in your writing.


Well, that's all I've got. I can't guarantee that doing these things will give you a 100k+ month, but I can promise that these tips + determination and motivation will definitely help you hit your 50k much easier than you might have otherwise.

-- erin
http://erinfoster.webs.com
http://twitter.com/theoryoferin


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[Edited on 7-10-2012 by JulNoWriMo]




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