Planning for a Higher Daily Word Count

For the next month or so, I’d like to start averaging around 3,000 words a day. I have deadlines that I’d really like to get ahead of if I can.

To do that, I’m going to need a plan. My experiments with the 5 minute sessions have proved to be very helpful with both focus and speed so I’m hoping I can increase my daily word counts by creating a daily plan based around them. Nothing so specific as a daily schedule because I am not going there again. :D

A general plan will let me set each day up however I need.

Hour 1
Hour 2
Hour 3
Hour 4

For each hour I have a goal of reaching 750 words. To start with I’m going to do ten 5 minute sessions per hour, with a goal of maintaining an average of 75 words for those 5 minute sessions. As long as I can stick to those goals, I can reach 3,000 words each day.

This is also today’s plan.

Hour 1 (did 8 sessions, reached 313 words, and yeah, I just deleted another chunk because this book is dragging right now and I can’t get any momentum going, also went over my hour)
Hour 2 (cancelled)
Hour 3 (cancelled)
Hour 4 (cancelled)

This is easier to type than the actual times I plan to do the writing, but I do have them scheduled just as I did in my previous planning posts. First hour starts at 3:30 p.m. See ya!

From 3:45 until now, I’ve reached 490 words. I couldn’t stop fixing stuff and never actually did but 2 sessions in that entire time because I kept getting distracted so…yeah. I’m just going to call that editing and move on.

Hour 1 to start shortly after a break.

Later…

Okay, today’s writing turned into a mess and I’m not sure how to prevent these kinds of days from happening, or if I can.

(1) My critical brain kicked in and that accounted for a lot of the time. Nothing I wrote was good enough. (2) I couldn’t get any momentum going because I couldn’t settle on a “next move” for the story. (3) The story wasn’t flowing, so when I tried to write I was constantly deleting, and again, no momentum.

All those have overlap with each other, of course, but that’s the best I can come up with for why things just wouldn’t move along tonight.

Honestly, I should have switched stories before it got so late that I’m now going to have to end the night with less than a third of the word count I needed today. I’m sitting at a net increase of 804 words, and they’re all on one novel (the one I’m supposed to publish in August).

Since I’d like to have a better day tomorrow, I’m not stopping tonight until I fix whatever’s wrong and start something that I can pick up and run with tomorrow.

A Dilemma

Faster writing, possibly more motivated writing (could be wrong, could be that I just finally got myself started again), definitely more typos, and definitely not as enamored of my own stuff as I should be when I re-read.

However, I was having an issue with that last item even before I started the 5 minute sessions, so maybe that’s not a result of the 5 minute sessions at all.

The mistakes? Definitely, absolutely, a result of the 5 minute sessions. I’m not taking time between each of them to tidy up when I’ve just written, which is exactly what I started out doing and should have kept doing but didn’t.

I just don’t know if I’m going to be able to work like this for an entire book. Part of me wants to keep it up, and part of me wants to go back to trying 1 hour blocks of a more leisurely nature so I can make sure what I’m writing satisfies me.

So, as mentioned, I have a dilemma, and I can’t decide what to do.

I said recently that I was going to try to make faster decisions, so … time to decide.

Before I set aside the 5 minute sessions, I should make a real effort to take the time between sessions to go over what I just wrote and correct any mistakes. Or, better yet, I should do it in the first few minutes of the my next hour long block I have planned, right before I start writing again as long as I can keep it short so it doesn’t take more than 5 to 10 minutes. Can I go over 800ish words in 5 to 10 minutes? Surely I can do that.

Alright then, that’s settled. Time to get to work. I’m starting about an hour and a half later than I’d planned to start today.

Later…

So that didn’t work. At all. I’ll have to rethink this. I spent nearly my entire first hour on the read through and fixes. I don’t know if I’m just in a really critical frame of mind or if every book I’ve written since January just really, really sucks.

I’m leaning toward the former, but maybe I should revisit one of my previous works just to see…

Truthfully, that isn’t likely to help and I’d like to stop needed that kind of reassurance from myself! :o

Anyway, gotta get to work or I’m going to end up with another day where I do the bare minimum, and I don’t want that.

Day 40 of No More Zero Word Days

Yesterday was my 40th consecutive day of writing, and it was the 3rd time I’ve ended the day with a negative number because of deleting more than I wrote.

I should have stayed at it longer, because I could have made up those words, but I let the day get away from me and I was too tired to keep going after I deleted that last chunk.

I ended the day with −176 words.

It’s definitely not a zero.

Sprintless Writing

I wanted to write today without sprinting, but I see the problem I run into now. I continue to get distracted. This is writing time and yet I was on the forums again, checking reports, fiddling with my laptop battery and settings, and checking the weather for the tenth time this morning (seriously).

I think I might need to use a timer even for the leisurely read throughs I want to do today to find and fix errors and catch myself up in the three novels I’m working on.

Hmm. Something to think about.

I need some decaf.

Also, I’m about half a day away from just giving in and buying some regular coffee next time at the store. Yikes. I must resist.

Plan for Another 5,000 Word Day

Gonna have to post my plan today, otherwise I’m probably not going to get started. It’s just one of those days.

And since I still need to practice writing more each day because I want to be more prolific in the coming months and years, I would like a few more 5,000 word days this month if I can manage them. I would like to know if I can write 5,000 on demand using almost the same plan that got me 5,000 words on Monday. And that’s the reason for today’s experiment.

The Plan

11:20–12:20 (finished at 12:20, did 5 sessions, reached 341 words) (ouch! writing’s going slow and I keep forgetting to reset the timer today, no idea why)
12:30–1:30 (started late, finished late, did 7 sessions, reached 471 words) (no idea what’s slowing me down, other than general sluggishness, seems I’ve got no pep today!)
4:40–5:40 (finished at 5:49, did 9 sessions, reached 703 words) (better, but still too slow)
6:20–7:20 (finished at 7:18, did 5 sessions, reached 433 words)
7:30–8:30 (cancelled)
8:40–9:40 (cancelled)
9:50–10:50 (cancelled)

For each hour I have a goal of reaching 725 words. To start with I’m going to do ten 5 minute sessions per hour, with a goal of maintaining an average of 73 words for those 5 minute sessions.

Now, off to get started. I have 4 minutes to make a fresh cup of tea. :)

I’ve had to make an adjustment to my start times for the remaining sessions. I’m not sure how I’ll fare trying for 5 hour sessions in a row, but we’ll see.

I cancelled my final three hours. I’m at 2,015. I might write more later tonight, but for the moment, I’m done.

Day 37 and 38 of No More Zero Word Days

Apparently after I do weed trimming (not being someone who usually does that) my arms feel like gelatin and all I want to do is lie on the couch. This was news to me. If I’d suspected I’d feel like that, I would have skipped the trimming, since I made yesterday’s writing plans the night before. Live and learn, as they say.

Day 37: 458 words
Day 38: 2,244 words

Today, on the other hand, I had life-outside-of-writing stuff to attend to and I was gone for a big chuck of the midday. I could have written more after I returned, but I just couldn’t write more. And the muscles in my arms are tight and sore from the previous day’s weed trimming.

Next time, I’ll just let the weeds grow. I always did like the wild look. :D

Day 36 of No More Zero Word Days

I slowed down yesterday (day 36) and ended the day with 650 words.

I started out the day with hopes that I would go for another 4,000 word day but within about half an hour of getting up I knew I wasn’t going to be doing any such thing. I was tired. Really tired.

But 650 words is way better than some of the words counts I’ve been doing in the past couple of months so I’m still very happy! I wrote those 650 words in one leisurely session that ended up being about 15 minutes long and seven 5 minute sessions during a one hour writing block.

5 minute sessions are making it possible for me to reach several hundred words even on my worst days. Happy? Make that thrilled. ;D

I have no way of knowing how permanent this is, but I feel like I could be on to something—the kind of thing that leads to lasting changes.

Day 35 of No More Zero Word Days

So today I put together another plan, this one to reach 4,000 words. Here’s how it went:

I ended the day with 4,047 words after 47 five minute sessions. I averaged 1,033 words per hour based on my totals.

As I’ve said before, the five minute sessions seem to be working really well for me.

Also, the planning obviously seems to be working really well too.

Planning for a 3,600 Word Day

I wasn’t going to post about my plan today but I’ve had a slow start to the day, have passed up 3 potential start times, and I still can’t seem to wake up and it’s verging on noon. So, I thought it might help to spell out my plan and post updates again today.

Today’s goal is a more modest 3,600 words. Yesterday, I had planned to write roughly 2,500 words on two different stories. It came out closer to 3,000 and 2,000 words.

Today I’m planning 1,500 words on two different stories and 600 words on another in 5 hours of writing. I’m going to stick with the 5 minute sessions.

12:20–1:20 (finished at 1:16, did 7 sessions, reached 780 words, plus 85, for 865 total)
1:30–2:30 (finished at 2:34, did 8 sessions, reached 813 words)
5:30–6:30 (stopped at 6:25 after 5 sessions, reached 281 words) (got lost in the story and had to stop, no idea where I’m going atm)
6:40–7:40 (finished at 8:13, did 10 sessions, reached 678 words)
7:50–8:50 (cancelled)

For each hour I have a goal of reaching 800 words. I’m aiming for ten 5 minute sessions per hour, with a goal of maintaining an average of 80 words for those 5 minute sessions.

Truth be told, I’m hoping to do well enough to cut my time today to 4 hour long blocks instead of 5, that’s why the increase to a goal of 800 words per session. Looking at yesterday’s numbers, I was almost there, but today I will need to focus on getting in a full 10 sessions per hour, 8 to 9 sessions seemed to be my limit yesterday.

Well, off to collect the decaf coffee I made a few minutes ago and get ready to start.

Off to a good start, but I had to make an adjustment to my start times after my break.

Well, I didn’t make it to 3,600 today. I don’t really know what the difference was between today and yesterday, but there was a marked difference in both how I felt (tired) and how fast I was writing.

I’m ending the day at 2,637 words. I don’t believe I’m at my best right now and I certainly don’t think the writing is going to go any better the rest of the night. I cancelled my last planned session.

A Plan for a 5,000 Word Day (Success!)

So I made some detailed plans this morning on how to get to 5,000 words today.

There are a lot of things I need to practice if I’m going to up my game and be more prolific in the coming months and years. I won’t always need days like this, but I would like to have a few of them occasionally, and I would like to know if breaking the goal down into much, much smaller bits will help or hinder me. And that’s the reason for today’s experiment.

The Plan

10:40–11:40 (finished on time, did 8 sessions, reached 806 words)
11:50–12:50 (finished at 12:42, did 8 sessions, reached 809 words)
1:00–2:00 (finished at 2:11, did 9 sessions, reached 797 words)
4:00–5:00 (finished at 5:05, did 8 sessions, reached 495 words) (my momentum was shot after my break and I just ran out of time to recover)
6:10–7:10 (finished on time, did 9 sessions, reached 841 words) (also I switched to work on a different story)
7:20–8:20 (finished on time, did 8 sessions, reached 817 words) (only 435 to go!)
8:30–9:30 (finished at 9:07, did 5 sessions, reached 527 words) (holy crap, I did it!)

For each hour I have a goal of reaching 725 words. To start with I’m going to do ten 5 minute sessions per hour, with a goal of maintaining an average of 73 words for those 5 minute sessions.

If that works out well, I would also like to try focused writing for an hour at a time, where my goal remains to keep my fingers moving and the words flowing.

Well, time’s here to get started, so I’ll update at the end of my first hour or my first 725 words.

Also, I needed to take some extra time after 5:00, so I made a bit of an adjustment to my last three session start times.

I can’t believe I did this today. I’m thrilled that I reached my goal. I’m also a little bit flabbergasted considering I have no idea why today was different from any other day. But it most certainly was.

Now, off to relax so I don’t go to bed exhausted. :D This has been an amazing day. I wrote 5,092 words in 4.58 hours of timed writing in 5 minute sessions.

200 Words In 5 Minutes Eluding Me

I still haven’t reached 200 words in 5 minutes. I’m still trying. I’ve made 45 attempts and so far my high has been 165. My low has been 6 (which I blame on having to delete most of what I wrote just before the timer went off).

That low of 6 and many other lows have been today’s numbers.

This is the first time I’ve written this early in the day since I started the 5 minute sessions, and it makes me wonder if I’m seeing a pattern that means something, or if it’s just where I’m at in the story I’m working on. It doesn’t feel like the latter. It feels like my brain is sluggish this morning.

I can type 313 words in five minutes at top speed. I can type 203 words in five minutes at a leisurely speed. I can reach that goal of 200 words in 5 minutes. I know I can.

I took a short break and tried to clear my head so I can make what I hope are some much more successful attempts at my goal.

This is a personal challenge I intend to meet, even though it’s still eluding me for the moment.

Day 30 and 31 of No More Zero Word Days

Yesterday, day 30 of my daily writing streak, I only wrote 97 words, barely over my minimum, because I was away part of the day, then wasn’t feeling that great, then had my kids come home after a week away, and well, it all added up to a lot of distraction and interruptions. I should have written more, but I feel lucky  to have written anything. It was the kind of day that would have been a zero word day if I’d let it.

Today, day 31 of my daily writing streak, I wrote well over 1,000 words and clocked 3.67 hours of timed writing, and yet … I ended the day with 59 words. I kid you not. :D

I have to smile about it because what else can I do? I deleted an entire scene in progress, wrote a new version in a different POV, and then deleted that too when I realized POV wasn’t the issue. The scene was the issue.

So I let something else happen instead and the book took off again. I was able to clock over 600 words in eight 5 minute sessions. Definitely not my best times, but frankly, I’m tired and I feel kind of lucky I even got that!

Perfectionism has been riding me hard these last few months and writing has been less than fun much more often than it should be. I feel lucky that I’ve broken through some of that, even if I still need to work on breaking through more of it.

Tomorrow I hope to start fresh, and here’s to the fact that I’ve got two stories moving along at a very nice clip!

Slow Start

Good intentions and all that…

Today I had plans to write a lot of words. Of course, then I started in on one of my stories, did two 5 minute sessions that have been two of the slowest I’ve done since I started the 5 minute sessions a few days ago, realized the scene wasn’t working, and spent the better part of most of my day trying to get it going in the right direction.

I started out with a less than 200 words, went in the hole, went up to 340 words, dropped back to -117 words, made it back up to 126 words, then said to heck with all that, deleted a chunk, and I’m now sitting at -552. But it’s 6:10 PM now.

Son of a bitch. I feel like it’s going to be impossible to get even halfway to where I wanted to be at the end of the day.

That said, this day isn’t over, and I’m going to do the best I can.

I’m still chasing the 200 words in 5 minutes goal, so there’s that too.

And later…

I’ve just pulled myself out of the wrong zone! It’s 7:23 PM and I’ve just spent the time between 6:10 PM and 7:23 PM tidying up my tags on this blog—and it felt like 5 minutes!

What I’m learning is that I can’t do anything online when I’m supposed to be writing. Getting into a zone while tidying tags is, well, embarrassing. Why couldn’t it have been my writing, huh?

Shrugging it off and getting back to work. This day hasn’t whipped me yet.

Day 27, 28, and 29 of No More Zero Word Days

Just a short summary of the last couple of days. I’ve been posting more general posts, and my progress is in there, but I thought I’d do a quick post to summarize how I’m doing on my streak.

Day 27: 1,360
Day 28: 713
Day 29: 1,582

I’m working on day 30 now. It’s been a strange day and I’ve not done much writing so far, but even as late as it is, I’m making a few attempts at my 200 words in 5 minutes goal. Who knows, maybe this’ll be the day! :)

A Writing Technique For the Distractible Writer

Write in super short sessions. Not short as in one hour, or thirty minutes, but really, really short. So short that there’s almost no chance your mind will wander, and every time your timer goes off, you’ve just been reminded of what you’re supposed to be doing.

Here’s why I’m giving this advice.

Three days ago, I started writing in 5 minute sessions.

I’ve written at a faster pace in the last three days than I’ve done since I started keeping track of that kind of thing in January 2013.

These 5 minute sessions have gotten me to 1,581 today on one story. I wrote almost all those words in eleven 5 minute sprints, although I did have one 15 minute session where I was just writing some stuff that I needed to get down before I stopped on that story—I had made it to 1,200 but wasn’t quite ready to stop. That’s 1,355 words an hour. My usual pace is 300–500 words an hour.

Last year, I spent a lot of time trying to reach 1,000 words an hour consistently. That didn’t work out. In case you’re thinking I’m losing time to the breaks between the sessions, I tracked the time and found that over 5 sessions, I spent 3 minutes in breaks, total.

This has made me really think about how easily distracted I am and how that’s been affecting my writing. I mean, I know it’s been affecting my writing, but I haven’t really had any way to see just how short a period I’m able to stay focused at a high level when I’m writing until this experiment started.

I don’t want to over think this, but I’m definitely having thoughts about it, and I’ll be keeping it up for as long as it works.

I haven’t yet reached 200 words in 5 minutes, but that’s what I’m aiming for.

For those not in the know, I write what I consider finished words. I don’t do rough drafting with the intent to fix stuff later. I make sure things are right before I move on from one sentence and paragraph to another. If I fix stuff later, it’s because there are mistakes that need fixed.

What that means is that I don’t allow spelling mistakes, typos, or other stuff to slide as I write. So 200 is a GREAT goal for me. And I’m just going to keep trying until I reach it. :D Someday I will.

Even More 5 Minute Sessions

I don’t know whether to call these sessions or sprints. Sprint fits best, because session is more inclusive of the time where I’m taking a quick read of my last paragraph and getting ready to hit that timer again.

This is likely giving me an inflated WPH count. I say that because my usual method includes that “breathing time” I seem to need between sprints. When I write for 1 hour, I’m including a lot of that breathing time, where my fingers are resting and I’m just staring into space. With these sessions, I’ve made it a point to do as little of that as I can, because I want to hit 200 words in 5 minutes at least once today. :) It’s a goal I have and it’s what keeps me doing session after session.

But this is really working for me. I mean, I might have just discovered one of my best ways of working. I’m so easily distracted when I write that having a 5 minute timer running keeps me super focused in the way a longer timer doesn’t.

I used to do 15 minute sessions, back in June/July 2012. Then I started playing around with things and decided half hour and even one hour sessions gave me better word counts. I never thought of going backward with my times. But it’s doing more for me than most any other session length I’ve ever tried. :)

None of those other session lengths have been able to keep me entirely in the moment the way these 5 minute sessions do. I struggled to reach 250 in 15 or 1000 in 60.

Yet, the lowest count I’ve hit this morning with 5 minutes is 116 words. That’s a pace of 348 in 15 and 1392 in 1 hour. The 5 minute sessions are generating my best word counts per hour of writing since I’ve started tracking them.

My brain seems to love the breaks between 5 minute sessions. It’s really helping me stay focused.

All I have to concentrate on is keeping the length of those breaks under control so I don’t break out of what is likely a flow state for me.

But my brain likes it. ;) So does my muse.

More 5 Minute Sessions

I’ve been doing the 5 minute sessions (sprints really) again tonight, trying to reach the ever elusive 200 words in 5 minutes goal I’d like to reach. You know, someday. Maybe before I die. Since we all know that could happen at any time, for any strange reason, I’d like to reach that goal sooner rather than later. :)

Not that I don’t have other, bigger, more pressing, life goals I’d like to meet before I die, but hey, one at a time, you know?

So far I’ve done 8 sprints and the highest I’ve gotten is 130 and that was my very first one. The rest have been lackluster, even though I swear my fingers are moving faster than they were last night. I can only assume I’m deleting too much tonight. Ah! The bane of my writing habits. I’m a heavy deleter.

Again, I really wish I’d gotten started with this early today. Hmm.

I think I’m going to go try to get to sleep earlier tonight so I can maybe, hopefully, please God, get to work early enough to reach a really nice word count tomorrow.

Hmm.

Yep. I’m calling it a night.