Trying something new, and crushing word count goals

For the past few days, I’ve approached my writing routine differently and tried something I’ve never done before. Normally, I sit down with the intention to work on a particular story, sometimes on a particular section, sometimes with a loose word count goal, and that’s it. The results of this approach always vary. Sometimes I just re-read things, and do minimal tinkering, which often is not the best use of my time. Sometimes the words spew out, but this is a rarer occurrence. What happens most often is something in between, and I get down a meager amount of words.

timerNow, here’s what I’ve been doing recently, and have seen a jump in productivity: short, concentrated bursts! I set the timer on my phone to 15-20 minutes and I start writing. It’s not frantic, there’s no word count goal, there’s not really any goal except to write. Instead of sitting and thinking too much, I tell myself that I need to make my time count. Once the timer goes off, I finish my thought, and I put the work aside for at least ten minutes. Even if I still feel like I could go on, I stop. I move to another WIP and do a burst on that, or take a break to do something completely different. There are similar methods for productivity in general, like the Pomodoro Technique, that helped inspire me to try it out. Doing these short bursts helps me from getting fatigued, causing my mind to wander, so I’m focused on the one task in front of me.

Using this method has already helped me bust through the goals I had set for myself this week. I don’t know if it will continue to work as easily, but shaking things up is always refreshing, and helps you approach things differently. Right now, these short sessions have been working for me, and I can see them being just as productive in the future. Have you tried a similar approach? What is your routine like now?


Focus on the good stuff first

So you finished your first draft of a story, you go back to read it, and realize some of what you wrote kinda stinks.  Instead of getting overwhelmed by the amount of shitty writing you think you spewed out, focus on the things that did work first.  Do your revisions based on those phrases, paragraphs, or scenes that really excited you, moved the story along, and kept the tone consistent.  If you find something that turned out really well but seems out of place with the rest of the story, chop it, and save it for something else.


Creating and breaking patterns


Patterns arise when there’s consistency. When a pattern breaks, you take notice. Giving your characters consistency will not only make them more realized, but you can utilize a sudden break in their patterns to convey emotional or physical change. It could be a subtle personality quirk that develops, or one that disappears, or a change in behavior after a life-changing event.

For example, you might have a character who reacts to anxiety and fear by biting her fingernails at the beginning of your story.  By the end of her journey, however, she’s gained confidence and her nails have grown back.