The last few weeks, I’ve been trying to write 2000 words or more each day. I’ve found there are a few things that have helped me be successful.
1. Don’t sit down to write 2000 words at once.
I’ve found a lot more success when I focus on writing a scene or much smaller goal, like 100 words. I can write 100 words in 3-5 minutes. At that pace, it will take 1-2 hours to write 2000 words. However, blocking aside 1-2 hours seems hard, while blocking a few 30-minute chunks makes it a lot easier. With 30 minutes at lunch, 30 minutes before dinner, and 30 minutes before bed, there are one-and-a-half hours right there. I can usually find the extra time somewhere else (generally a little longer at night).
2. Focus on scenes, not word counts
Each of my scenes tends to run from 1000-3000 words. By focusing on completing a scene, I take the pressure off just filling out my word counts, and can focus on completing scenes. The word counts tend to flow after that.
That being said, if I’m stuck, I’ll fall back to just trying to write 100 words. Small goals are easy to achieve.
3. Find a writing buddy
Each week, I submit my work to a group of like-minded writers who want to focus on increasing word counts without sacrificing quality. By critiquing each other’s work, we also sharpen our skill by catching each other’s errors.
One of the things I’ve noticed is that I now hear the other writer’s voices in my head as I write. They’ll encourage me to focus on bringing out a character quirk, or adding that extra little twist of detail. Each week, I find that my writing is just a little bit stronger.
4. Don’t edit
Don’t revise your work at first. Turning off the internal filter is one of the challenges writers face. When I hear the voices of my critique partners, they’re encouraging me to bring out other aspects of my characters, scene, or plot. I’m ignoring all the advice they give me about not repeating words, avoiding passive voice, or other grammatical quirks.
Editing comes later, once your first draft is ready. In my case, I’m working on a novel, so I’ll be changing focus soon revisions, and away from simply adding words.
5. Turn off the Internet and TV
Seriously, you have to turn it off. In the age of Twitter, blogging, constant bombardment from news, etc., there are too many distractions to keep you from focusing on writing.
I used to write while playing a movie for “background noise”, but often found myself turning to watch whatever was on. After I turned the TV off, I found myself checking email or Twitter every five or ten minutes.
Finally, I decided to simply disconnect the Internet while I’m writing. At first I wanted to turn it on every few minutes, but by making that a conscious decision, I’m able to go longer between checking my email. Instead, I’m focused on writing.
6. When you finish one section, outline the next
It’s nearly impossible to keep an entire book in your mind at the same time. However, it’s completely possible to hold one scene in focus. I tend to sketch out the skeleton of the next scene when I’ve finished working on my current one. This helps me to keep focused, and to understand my mindset the next time I sit down to write.
How many words a day do you write? How do you do it?
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