Thursday, July 28, 2016

Writing Fast

I have about an hour's worth of work to go on this draft, and that means I'll have finished a full-length draft of an approximately 90,000 word novel in about a month. And I didn't even work every day. I had a few slack-off days in the middle. Because I love analysis, I figure it's worth thinking about what worked so I can replicate it. If I can do this kind of production, I can keep up a good, steady publication schedule. So, what did I do differently this time?

Oddly, I didn't outline. I had a few high points planned and I'd done research relating to some topics I used, but otherwise, this was pure pantsing like I've never really done before, making it up as I went and sometimes being surprised by where my imagination took me. It helps there that I'm working with very familiar characters in a world I've already developed, and I'm picking up bits and pieces of things I've already set up. I don't think I could do this sort of thing with a new series. But it's been a lot of fun just seeing where the story took me. I'll probably have to do a lot of revision to go back and set up the things that occurred to me later in the story, but I end up having to do a lot of revision no matter how much I outline, so I'm not sure that the obsessive plotting is a big timesaver for me.

Another odd thing was that I did this while having wi-fi at home. I resisted for years because I was afraid it would kill my productivity, and apparently it hasn't. I think in a sense it's helped because I can multitask my goofing off. If I can play around online while watching TV, then that's more time I have during working hours, and I'm less tempted then.

But I think another related thing that helped was that I've been forcing myself to be aware of my own bad habits. I have a tendency to put off starting to write or going back to writing when I've taken a break by doing what I think of as "doom looping." That's when I get caught in a cycle of checking e-mail, checking social media, then going back around to the things I just checked to see if there's anything new. But since there isn't much new in the two minutes since I last checked, I'm more inclined to read things I otherwise wouldn't and get lost in rabbit trails. The first time through, I skim through things friends have posted and only follow links that are business-related or of extremely high interest. The second time through, I'll read things that might be of interest but that aren't urgent, like "23 ways to organize your house." By the third or fourth loop, I'm so desperate for new content that I'll click on "You won't believe what happens when this baby sees this puppy." So, the moment I'm about to click on something that's not highly relevant to my work or major interests, I tell myself that I'm doom looping and get to work.

Something that's helped with that is starting my work session for the day with a sprint. I generally do my marketing and business stuff in the morning and write in the afternoon and evening, but my start time in the afternoon often gets delayed because I go online to check my e-mail, start doom looping, and then an hour or so later I still haven't done anything. So I've started setting a firm start time right after lunch, with no checking anything (unless maybe there's something I've been expecting and will need to deal with), and then working for about an hour/writing ten pages without a break. That means I get about half my daily minimum done (I aim for at least 20 pages a day) before I usually would have started work, and then I have some momentum going for getting the rest done. After that, I tend to work in half-hour bursts with breaks to get up and move in between. As a result, I've surpassed my usual daily minimums without feeling like I'm spending that much more actual time working. I am putting in more time writing, but it's in the same amount of time "in the office," so to speak.

Something that may or may not play a role in all this is that I've been watching what I eat during this time, mostly because there were summer clothes I got out this year that didn't quite fit right. So this summer I've been trying to avoid sweets and snacks and eating a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking a lot of water. I have a lot more energy and haven't needed a lot of caffeine, and that seems to have translated into me getting more done in the afternoon without the usual midday slump.

Now we'll see how revisions go, but I'd like to try this again and boost my output. More books published more frequently means not only more stuff available to sell, but more sustained visibility, and since I'm publishing most of this stuff myself, I can put out as many books a year as I can write.

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