Discalimer: What works for me may not always work for you. Spend time getting to know how you work and better learn the things that will help you reach your goals.
To pay the bills without having to travel long distances to work, I took up the profession of ghostwriting at the beginning of the year. It’s a bumpy road that probably doesn’t pay as well as it should, but it has taught me a lot about my ability to write.
For one thing, I can absolutely crush word counts that make Nanowrimo look like child’s play. Do I think that is just me? That I’m some kind of inhuman fluke that can create an immense amount of content in a small period of time?
No, not really.
What it really boils down to are habits that I have taught myself combines with a small amount of resources. Let me share with you how I’m hitting 4k words in a couple of hours.
Set Small, Interval Goals
Don’t look at the blank page and think about what it needs to become. That is a hell of a daunting thing and it will not help you get anywhere.
Instead, break down what you want to get done into small and manageable goals that you can get done in your spare time. What I do, only because this is currently my full time job, is break the 4K into a chunk of 1.5kd one right after my coffee. Then, I go for a run, shower, and stuff my face with some food. Then, I sit down and hammer out another 1.5k. After I spend some time with my husband, attend to some house work, and do some good-natured fretting, I get down to writing the last 1k.
What you could do is set more, smaller goals. On your lunch break? Draft some dialogue in a notebook. Waiting for your pasta to boil? Plop your laptop on the counter and hammer out 300 words. Drain your pasta, toss with sauce, and repeat. Before you know it, you will have quite a few words on the page.
It won’t feel like you spent all day staring at the screen because you didn’t. You gave your brain breaks and did what needed to be done at the same time.
Decide What Time of Day You Are Most Productive
For me, this is first thing in the morning. I make my coffee, feed my cats, and get a wee bit of social media in before I launch into writing. Having my work done first thing in the morning allows me to breathe easier throughout my day.
But, I know this doesn’t work for everyone. Some people are night owls. Some people are cafe writers.
It doesn’t matter. Find that productive hour and tell your friends and family that you’re busy. This will be just for you and your story.
You might think your story will stay, neatly tucked away in your brain. The truth of the matter is you deal with a whole heck of a lot during any given day. Your brain is going to throw out something good at some point in the day.
To avoid losing the good stuff, keep a notebook nearby. You can use the notes in your phone, but it’s harder to write lines of dialogue or chunks of prose that come to you. That notebook will be a great way to catch the tiny details that flutter through your head. It will also be available to you when your computer is not.
V.E. Schwab showed a notebook that she’d taken on a tour with her. On the left hand page she’d written down plot notes and details. On the right hand page, she wrote bits of dialogue that went with the plot. That way, when she sat down at the computer, there was only a bit of filling in the blanks that really needed to be done.
I absolutely loved this idea and I’m so stealing it.
For me, stimulation comes in the form of caffiene, music, and food.
I eat way too much. Confession time: there is food hidden all over my office. Behind my desktop monitor I have a bag of mint M&Ms, and until recently I had a secret diet coke. In one drawer I have gummy fruit slices (because they remind me of my grandma). In the other drawer I have dark chocolate covered espresso beans because my husband loves me.
Aside from my bad habits, I NEED music. Working without music can happen for me, but it is a stilted process. Music allows me to capture a writing pace. It allows me to set a mood.
I like some really fast paced, banging music to drive my fingers and push my brain to think faster. For this, I use spotify. You can just as easily use your iTunes, Youtube, or whatever it is you like.
I know some people need silence. Go ahead and lock the door. Make your own Do Not Disturb sign and warn your friends and family ahead of time.
On the other hand, don’t be afraid to separate yourself from stimulation. In this case, meaning social media. There are a handful of sites that utilize a timer to block you from social media, such as ColdTurkey (which has a free and a premium version).
Are you ready to get to writing? When you figure out what helps you hit your stride and kick out huge word count goals. Don’t worry about the quality of those words right now. Nothing was built in a day (and if someone says they did, they’re lying).