Showing posts with label a million words a year. Show all posts
Showing posts with label a million words a year. Show all posts

Saturday, May 18

The Key To Being A Productive Writer: Prioritize

The Key To Being A Productive Writer: Prioritize

Writing 3,000 words a day is hard.

I can just imagine Dean Wesley Smith shaking his head saying, "You think writing three hours a day is hard work?!"

Well, no. Writing for three hours a day is, to a certain extent, the easy part. After all, I already wrote about 1,000 words of non-fiction and 1,000 words of fiction a day.

There's also--I'm not going to say 're-writing'--but there is editing. At least there is for me. That's another two hours a day. Then there's my blog--two posts a day takes about four hours. Sorting through and answering my email, reading other blogs, keeping up with Twitter, all that takes another two hours.

Lately I've put aside an hour a day to do nothing but read, but--necessary though it is--that is time I'm not writing.

These past few days I've become acutely aware that I spend most of my working day on things that, while good and productive in their own way, keep me from putting my butt in my chair and writing fiction.

But that has changed, which is why I didn't blog at all yesterday: I was busy writing.

I've decided I need to make some sacrifices. One of these is that I won't be blogging twice a day anymore. To be honest, I'm not completely sure how much I'll be blogging. I've been thinking about writing a post a day, or perhaps five posts a week like Chuck Wendig.

Speaking of Chuck Wendig, this is really his fault, him and Dean Wesley Smith and Kris Rusch. Actually, Kris started it all by mentioning she wrote one million words in 2012.

One million!

The thought boggled me. I imagined Kris sitting at her computer typing away in a blue bodysuit with a red "W" on the front and a red cape falling gracefully from her shoulders. In my imagination I gave her the name: Superwriter.

Then recently Chuck Wendig revealed that he, too, is a member of the one million words a year club. That's 3,000 words a day, each and every day.

My first thought was that it would be hard never having a day off.

But then I did something Dean Wesley Smith is always encouraging writers to do (see here, here and here) and I ran the numbers.

Guess what I found? Assuming that one's books are moderately successful (and that's a BIG if), if one writes a million words a year, chances are good that, at the end of five years, a writer can make a reasonable living.

Now, I'm not saying that one has to write a million words a year for five years to make a reasonable living as a writer.

Not at all!

One or more of your books could be a bestseller, and if that book is part of a series then chances are you'll be well on your way to making a decent living.

But hoping that one's books will be bestsellers is a much bigger IF than hoping each of one's books does moderately well. Thus my goal of writing a million words a year for the next five years.

Yes, folks, that's the goal! Whether I'll end up doing that, I don't know, but I'm certainly going to try.

It's difficult re-aligning one's life, one's priorities, so that can happen. It takes time, and it has been difficult for me to decide what to let go. I'm not letting go of this blog, I find it too rewarding, on a personal level as well as a professional one. I've learnt so much. Both through my own research and from your many insightful comments.

So I guess what I'm trying to say is that this will be a learning process for me and I hope you will forgive me if I don't post as much as I used to.

And, by all means, if you would like to see a post on a certain topic, please leave a comment or contact me here.

I'll be sure to keep you updated on how it's going.


Other articles you might like:

- Indie Writers Can Now Get Their Books Into Bookstores
- What Do Aaron Sorkin, Stealing, And Advice About Writing Have In Common?
- 4 Ways Outlining Can Give A Writer Confidence

Photo credit: "London Calling #5" by Thomas Leuthard under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Tuesday, May 7

Chuck Wendig's 9 Tips For Writing A Million Words A Year

Chuck Wendig's 9 Tips For Writing A Million Words A Year

In a post with a very un-Chuck-Wendig-like title, How To Maximize Your Word Count and Write More Every Day, Chuck talks about how to write a million words a year.

Like him.

Yep, that's right: 1,000,000 words.

Chuck writes: "I generally write about 3,000 brand new shiny so-fresh-and-so-clean words per day."

A few months ago Chuck wrote about how to take a slow and steady approach to writing a novel in a year, today he wrote about stepping up the pace and, as he put it, punting "that slow and steady approach right in the See You Next Thursday."

Chucks tips for writing a million words a year

1. Do your writing in the morning

Although I'm nowhere near as prolific as Chuck Wendig, I find this as well; I am by far the most productive in the morning. It's like those hours are magical. Chuck writes:
Writing in the morning has more potential than writing in the evening and here’s why: writing at the end of the day means the candle is burning down. The timer is ticking. You’re watching the horizon eat the sun and with it, the remaining hours before sweet, sweet slumber.
. . . .
Write at the end of the day, you’re racing the clock.

Write at the fore of the day, you own the clock.

2. Wake up an hour earlier

Like many writers, Chuck Wendig has a toddler and toddlers loudly and voraciously demand attention. Chuck finds that by getting up at 5 AM he can get half his word count done before the little guy gets up.


Whenever I get up early I, too, get a lot of extra work done. The trick for me is to make sure I get at least 7 hours of sleep. If I don't, I feel about as lucid as a hibernating cave bat.

3. Coffee

Coffee is good, just don't overdo it. If you do it won't work as well when you really need it.

4. Snatch time from life's thieving jaws and use it to write

I'm struck by how close Chuck's advice is to Kris Rusch's in her post, Habits. They both talk about snatching bits of time here and there. I suspect many professional writers who write in the neighborhood of a million words a year do this. Chuck writes:
If you’re going to write a lot, you’re going to need to feint and duck, stick and move, and reach in to grab fistfuls of time-flesh and use it for your own sinister purposes: in this case, writing. Got a lunch break? Write. Sitting at a long stop light? Take a few quick voice notes on your phone.

5. Schedules and deadlines

Chuck writes:
Having a schedule keeps me sane and helps me meet my writing goals. I toss all the projects I need to write into a spreadsheet. I calculate them by day how much I have to write to get ‘em done. I mark deadlines and potential start dates.
I have stress-dreams where I realize I've got a book due IN TWO HOURS.

I've begun keeping a running list of all the writing tasks I need to accomplish and I've found this lets me relax a bit. When I start to stress I just look at my list and convince myself I'm on track.

6.  Plan, prep, plot, scheme (/Outlining saves time)

Chuck Wendig writes: "I outline not because I like it but because I must."

Why "must"? Because writing 3,000 words a day takes time and if you know where your story is going you can save oodles of time.

That said, I think everyone is different. Myself, I'm like Chuck, I outline. It gives me jitters just thinking about beginning a book without an outline. Dean Wesley Smith, on the other hand, recently wrote a 70,000 word book in 10 days without an outline. He had no idea where he was going with the book, how it would end, until he was about halfway through. Chuck writes:
[I]f you start the day with a mission statement already in play thanks to an outline, you can jump in, eschew any planning the day might require, and just start writing. The goal is to give as much of your time to actually telling the story as you can.

7. Politely ask for the time you need

Asking for things that you need from the folks that you love often works.


Good luck with that.

8. Write with your internal editor gagged and shoved in a box

This was one of my favorite points. Chuck writes:
Editing as you go is a perfectly viable way to write.

It is not a perfectly viable way to write quickly and to maximize your word count.
Chuck Wendig points out that editing as you go will slow you down--and I agree--but I've also found that I usually end up changing things that shouldn't be changed because I lack perspective.

I need to finish the draft, warts and all, put it away for as long as I can stand then come back and edit it.

What does this mean for your internal editor?
[Y]ou need to shut your internal editor up. Elbow him in the throat and shove him in a duffel bag. Remind him his time will come. The editor always gets the last laugh.

9. Silence self-doubt with hollowpoint bullets packed with your indifference

This is my favorite point. Chuck writes:
You sit there and write and hate everything about what you’re doing and want to punch your characters, your paragraphs, your whole story, yourself.

Self-doubt is a sticky mud, indeed.

It will slow you down.
And if one is going to write a million words a year slow is bad.

So, how does one turn their self-doubt off?

Chuck writes:
The secret, actually, isn’t in the silencing of your self-doubt.

The secret is in ignoring it.

We’re not particularly smart about our own authorial worth while in the midst of writing something. We love what sucks and hate what works and at least for me, during writing a project my headspace starts to look like the back of my television: a thousand wires braided together .... Point is, you start to lose the sense of what feeling is moored to what part of your story. It’s all just a tangle of wires.

Your self-doubt just ain’t that ... effective. Or accurate.
. . . .
So, ignore it. It’s going to be there. Pretend you don’t hear it. Tune it out. It is rarely meaningful or efficient. It’s damn sure not helpful. ...

That’s maybe the biggest secret to writing a lot of words really, really fast: you need to blacken your self-doubt sensors with a boot and — say it with me –

An inspiring post!

One thing I loved about NaNoWriMo was the feeling of working together with other writers toward a common cause: each of us, individually, producing a 50,000 word manuscript in a month.

Perhaps one day there'll be a 5 o'clock club for overcaffinated writers who aspire to write one million words a year.

Do you have a tip on how to increase ones word count (other than 'Write more!')?

Other articles you might like:

- How To Get Over A Destructive Critique
- Writer Beware: Penguin And Author Solutions
- Chuck Wendig On Finding Your Voice

Photo credit: "Anything Goes" by JD Hancock under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.