Saturday, November 06, 2004

Way of the Cheetah

Getting up at 4 am when I don't have to may seem masochistic, but it will do great things for my daily quota and maybe buy me an extra week off during the holidays. Very early AM is also a good writing time for me, and I barely noticed the difference this morning when the alarm went off.

It's day six of NaNoWriMo, everyone still chugging merrily along? Hope so. I do enjoy seeing all the fun my friends are having with it. The 175,000 words or so that I'm writing this month = two books already sold, with deadlines attached to them, so this is not a game for me. This is my job. Here, every month is NaNoWriMo, and pretty much has been for the last six years.

If you'd like to boost your speed and productivity, this is what I've found helped me break the 10K per day barrier:

1. Write at your most creative hour. To find it, try writing at different times of the day and night, and see which one is most comfortable for you as a writer. I like early mornings because the house is quiet, everyone is asleep, and I get to see the sunrise on my break.

2. See the scene before you write. Try to imagine it in your head before you write it, like a movie clip. Envision as many details as you can, and don't forget to use all of your senses.

3. Make your writing area comfortable for you. Mine is a computer on a compact wheeled desk with nothing in, on, or around it. I'm like a three year old when it comes to being visually distracted by colors, shapes and patterns. Also, if things get loud, the wheeled desk is nice because I can push the computer into another room.

4. Write straight through without stopping. This is writing minus the back-pedaling, re-reading and rewriting. Start to finish, no editing. Don't question yourself, don't worry about whether you're writing well or not. Trust yourself and keep going.

5. Get up and stretch now and then. Walk around for a minute at least once every hour. Don't dehydrate yourself and eat something nutritious every six to eight hours. Your body will thank you.

6. When you're finished, save your work, print it out if you want a hard copy, and then shut it down and walk away. Give yourself a good break before you start editing what you wrote. I always take about four to six hours off before I look at what I wrote.

7. After you edit once, put the work away and don't touch it again. Moving on to the next section that needs to be written is probably the hardest thing for writers to do besides the actual writing. You'll have a chance to go back and fix things when the book is done, and this is good practice for streamlining your editing process.

8. Reward yourself for making your quota. When you reach a goal, give yourself a pat on the back and do something you enjoy. Have lunch out, take a long walk with the dog, watch a TV show or movie, buy yourself a book, listen to a CD. This is really important, because even when you sell your work the way I do, you still need to pay the muse, renew the spirit, replenish the creativity well or whatever you want to call it. I hand write letters, knit, quilt, paint, read poetry or listen to music. Sometimes I just go for a drive through the country.

9. Don't grade yourself. This is not a test. This is training. Test comes later, when they pay you for what you write.

10. Don't stop writing. The reason I'm in print? Is because nothing stops me. Three hurricanes tried this summer, and I wrote by candlelight on a PDA for a total of twenty-one days without power or water. You can always find a way to write. Keep it up.

1 comment:

  1. thanks so much for the advice, because I been wanting to schedule my writing so I'm doing something with my story most days.


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