Writing More, Faster, Smarter

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Several months ago, I attended a writing seminar taught by a highly-acclaimed writer who has seen success in multiple genres, both through traditional and self-publishing.  I’d heard rave reviews of this writer’s presentations before, and I eagerly looked forward to his words of wisdom.

Alas, he was ill-prepared, pretentious, and condescending.

But I gained one nugget of wisdom from his presentation:  In the modern world of publishing, writers need to do More.

More what? 

Yeah, we need to do more publicity.  Or the right publicity.  We need to do more social media presence-ing.  Or the right social media presence-ing.  We need to do more career planning.  Or the right career planning.

But most of all, we need more content.

For some of us, content has been relatively easy in the early days of self-publishing.  We had backlist books, where the rights had reverted to us.  We could take those books that, a decade ago, would have mouldered in our garages (if we had garages) or turned to dust in our attics (if we had attics), and we could turn them into shiny new pixels of ebooks, making money without much new creative effort.

For those of us with backlists, the early days have been golden.  But the backlists have been exploited.  We’re back at ground zero.  And so we need to write — more, faster, smarter.

I’m fortunate.  I’m a fast writer.  I can churn out 5000 words a day, day after day after day.  Um, when I actually write.

It’s not a secret to this group — we create works by applying BICHOK — Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard.  Now, though, I need a new acronym.  BICHOKWTC.  Butt In Chair, Hands on Keyboard, Words That Count.

I don’t have time for the words that belong to another story.  I don’t have time for the words that are warm-ups, exercises for my writing brain before I really kick into gear.  I don’t have time for the words that are written from the wrong POV, or *no* POV.  I definitely don’t have time for the words on Facebook or Twitter — at least until after the day’s important words are down.

Why am I suddenly so aware of Words That Count? 

Between now and December 31, 2014, I will be releasing a dozen new books.  Of those releases, ten will be entirely new content.

First up:  On Monday, September 23, I’m releasing GIRL’S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT in a boxed set, with five other authors’ first-in-a-series novels.  The set will sell for $0.99 — it’s a promotional effort that required little new writing but lots of shrewd marketing.

Second:  On Tuesday, September 24, my pseudonymous middle grade novel DARKBEAST REBELLION will hit the stores ( Amazon | B & N | Indiebound).  I love, love, love this book, and I’ll be traveling a fair amount to promote it.  I hope to be able to write many more books in the DARKBEAST world.

Third through Eleventh:  I’m writing nine fun, spicy romances, each built around a player on a baseball team and the woman he loves.  They’ll start coming out during spring training next year; the last will hit stores a little after the World Series.

Twelfth:  I’m writing a new Jane Madison Academy Series book.

Between now and the end of next year, I’ll be writing around a half million words, for publication.  It’s going to be tough.  I’m going to be exhausted.  But with BICHOKWTC, I can do it.

How about you?  Are you setting writing goals for next year?  Can you power-load your current writing practice, making whatever time you have to create more productive?  How can you increase the WTC?

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18 comments to Writing More, Faster, Smarter

  • sagablessed

    This will short, as I threw out my back. I am damned. I am a slow writer. I can churn out maybe 1,00 words a day if I am real lucky. But I go through my vocabulary and thesaurus like a madman. Those words I put down must be as close to perfect as possible before I submit to my writer’s group for critique.
    Then I see the pages bleed and cry. 😉

  • Wow, Mindy. You’re even more ambitious than I am. Best of luck with all of these. I have pretty big plans for the coming year, but I can’t talk about them publicly quite yet. Soon though.

  • Damn girl! I thought I could write fast, but 5000 a day? That’s not just fast, that’s stamina! I’ve done 10,000 in a day, when I had a plan and knew what I was doing–it was with a total outline that was a complete rewrite of what I’d done before. Fresh new words? I can still do in the upper thousands, but it is exhausting. Do you take days off? Do you have a day job? I’ve been feeling pretty good with my 1000 words every other day. :) But I do need to get my BICHOKWTC. I tend not to have a huge problem with WTC. I don’t do much pre-writing or anything like that. I never have. I just jump in to whatever I’m doing. It does mean that I might lose stuff in editing–a lot of beginnings get changed or I realize I started in the wrong place, etc., but that’s usually okay, as it leads me to the good stuff. Once I’m picking up in the middle of something, having whole swaths of “well, that was just totally wrong” is a bit less frequent.

    Still, I’m way beyond impressed with all the whole half a million words in four months. May the keyboard rise to meet you, and the writer’s block never hold you back. (If you believe in writer’s block) 😀

  • henderson

    Great post! Your goal is very ambitious. Good luck.

  • Ack. I have a feeling I know exactly which writer you mean, because I’ve taken workshops with him before and left feeling the same.

    But. I agree on the “more content”. That’s incredible that you can manage as much as you do. This post makes me want to focus more and be more productive, because I have been spending way too much time on words that don’t matter. If nothing else, I know exactly how I’ll be spending this weekend! (The first with no commitments in a *very* long while.)

    Best of luck with all of your projects. :)

  • Such is the nature of my brain that it *had* to turn that initialism into BITCH OK WTF (butt in the chair, hands on keyboard, words that fit). More memorable, doncha think?

  • Mindy, I nearly inhaled my tea twice. First at your proposed schedule. (Day-um!) And that Wolf’s words. (Perfect!)

  • Right now, I’m working on revisions on book 2 of my epic fantasy romance trilogy, but I do have to get back to my old routine for the next book. I’m not an incredibly fast typist. I use two-finger method for the most part, but when I get into a zone, I can hit the word count pretty well. I think my highest has been around 4,500 or so, but that was a full 8-10 hours of work. My method was 2,000/10,000/100,000, or 2k a day for 10k a week with weekends off for an eventual 100k in 10 weeks, or a full book. It’s pretty achievable, though I’m also a stay at home Dad (that may change though). If the words flowed on a couple of those days I made goal in far less than 10 weeks. Still, every word had to count. I didn’t just toss in extra words just to make goal. I still pull words in revisions or add some, but it works for me. And a book in 10 weeks or less is pretty sweet too. I’ve sort of gotten away from that method and I need to get that discipline back.

  • Sagablessed – Sorry to hear about your back! My point wasn’t so much that everyone should be getting down the same number of words that *I* have planned. Rather, I think we could all make the words we each get to be more efficient. Maybe a 10% increase, to start with? But never bleed and cry :-)

    David – I can’t wait to hear your news, when you’re able to share publicly! And yeah. I sort of feel like 2014 is the year for ambition. We’ll see if I survive it :-)

    pea_faerie – It *is* exhausting. My standard schedule is writing (5K a day) Mondays, Wednesdays, and every other Friday. My Tuesdays and Thursdays are for all admin tasks (formatting ebooks and print books, promotion, publicity, marketing, whenever possible actually *attending* events, and all the household stuff — shopping, cooking, veterinarian-management, etc.) Writing *is* my day job these days, along with as much of the household stuff as I can accomplish, to make things happier for my spouse and for me. Oh – my 500K words is a goal to accomplish by the end of *next* year. My plan is to have the writing done by 10/1/2014, to have time for the final publications and promotion…) And no. I don’t believe in writer’s block. :-)

    henderson – Thanks for the kind words!

    Laura – I wonder if we’re talking about the same guy… I suspect there are a lot who fit that description, alas. Good luck with your writing this weekend!

    Wolf – I’ll now chant that as my new motto :-)

    Faith – Necessity is the mother of typing. Or something like that :-)

    Daniel – I remember your talking about your writing rhythm before. I hope you’re able to return to the discipline!

  • *laughs* Oh, right, it’s NOT 2014 yet. My bad. :) Still, that’s a lot of words. And I like the way you work your schedule! That sounds reasonable and doable!

  • Yes, yup, and absolutely!

    But a small “no” too. The fear that I’m writing the “wrong” words can be crippling. The more I second guess myself the slower I work until I’m not writing at all. Sometimes we can’t start with the right words. We just have to write toward the “right” words because we can’t get there without writing the “wrong” ones first. This is why drafting and revising are so important. The pressure to do it right the first time can result in no words at all. And any words, including words that have to be erased and replaced by the better, more right words, are better than no words.

    Wolf – I’m right there with you, buddy. My brain went straight to those acronyms too!

  • Ken

    Good Luck on the schedule Mindy!!!

    Currently I’m working on maintaining consistancy in my writing time. I have been for the past 3 weeks. BIC at the same time or as close to the same time as I can manage (Always after full nightfall though) and I’m BIC-ing seven days a week. My writing time is limited so I don’t do any prewriting, I read the last couple of sentences that I wrote during my last session and then I pick up from there. At this point, I’m not caring about word count (I know, blasphemy, right? :)). What matters is the BIC. Over the past few days, I’ve been taking peeks at my WC though. I can’t help it. While I normally have an hour to an hour and a half, I’m averaging 600 words a day. Not a bad total if you add everything up at the end of the week. Not everything is Keep-worthy and I know it, but this is a first draft.

    My way of upping the creativity? Keep doing what I’m doing. Every day, same time (ish), after nightfall. Very slowly, I’m finding it easier to make that 600 to 650 to (Hallelujah) 700 words a night.
    Writing goals for next year? Keep chasing the dream, one night at a time.

  • Razziecat

    While some projects may ultimately prove to be more important, as in “the ones that sell,” I don’t think of anything I write as “not counting.” Every word I put on the page helps to improve my skills. I learn something new every time I write.

    And, Wolf? I am SO making a note of that! 😀

  • deborahblake

    I only occasionally manage 5K in a day; I tend to aim for about 1,200 words a day, 6 days a week when I am doing a first draft. Thankfully, my first drafts are fairly polished, and while I have to do revisions, they are usually not onerous. Of course, that’s what I’m working on now and they *feel* onerous, but that’s just me 😉

    I have an ambitious year coming up too–we’ll have to be each other’s cheerleaders.

  • With the start of a new semester, I’ve been really busy lately but things are starting to settle into a pattern. My goal is to finish the draft of my WIP (about 40k more) by the end of the year. I think that should be doable. I mean, I will do that :)

  • L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright

    >I’m fortunate. I’m a fast writer. I can churn out 5000 words a day, day after day after day. Um, when I actually write.

    Holy Macaroni! Mindy! You are now my new person to emulate. That is…amazing. I…

    I’m going to figure out how to do that!!!

    (How many hours does it take you to do 5000 on average?)

  • Maybe, Mindy. Call it a hunch. But I don’t have time to waste valuable writing time on Words that Don’t Count bemoaning a shoddy presenter. Now maybe one day, over whiskey or tea … 😉

    So far my progress has been okay, but all of my experiences yesterday led me to one question (and maybe this is a topic for another post): You mentioned to Pea that you handle a lot of the household stuff. How do you balance that while working, exactly? Do you have specific time slots, or do you retreat to a cafe? I found myself getting sidetracked by household stuff and it bugs me. Stuff that felt like it was hanging over my head because I was home from the dayjob and had the “chance” to take care of it. Even if it could have waited. I was still successful in getting *something* down, just not nearly as much as I’d hoped. What would you recommend?

  • peafaerie – Yep! Don’t rush things! :-)

    Sarah – Interesting. I didn’t mean to say write only *perfect* words. I actually edit my words a lot, especially on the first pass read after I’ve initially gotten them down. What I meant to say was, “Don’t waste words on Facebook, and blog posts, and emails that can wait, and, and, and…” To me, the “words that count” are the words that go to the story, not all the other words in my life!

    Ken – Thanks for the good wishes. Consistency is a tremendous contributor to success. I’ve found a system that works for me, but it likely wouldn’t work for anyone else. The key for any system, though, is finding what works, lather, rise, repeat. I’m glad you’ve moved down that road yourself!

    Razziecat – I agree that I can learn by making mistakes, but I’m a much more efficient writer when I avoid the mistakes I already know about. (Minor case in point: I over use the word “that” to a massive extent. On my first read-through pass, I delete dozens of occurrences of the word. If I just avoided writing it in the first place, I could skip that phase of my editing.) So, yes. I learn by reading my errors. But wow, it would be better to internalize that lesson!

    deborahblake – rah, rah, rah! (See, that’s me. Cheerleading.) Good luck with your own ambitious goals!

    SiSi — Good luck! (And yes, when I was living by an academic calendar, it was always challenging to find the new pattern in time, because it changed every semester!)

    Jagi – I usually *take* a full day (from around 10 till around 5) to write my 5000 words. If I applied my own rules/goals/admonitions, I could get the writing done in about 4 hours (about 1250 an hour, when I’m actually writing and not letting myself check email, Facebook, etc., obsessively.)

    Laura — I’ll hold you to that whiskey or tea! As for your other question… I’m going to hold that till my next post, okay?