Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Game Changer by Guest Blogger Donna Alward!


When Ruthy e-mailed to ask if I’d come back to Seekerville, I was like “of course!” Everytime I visit, the reception’s warm, the conversation is sparkling, and the sheer volume of treats y’all leave around is inspired.
But when she asked if I’d chat about #1k1hr, I was definitely on board. Because, as I said to one of my chaptermates at our holiday potluck, #1k1hr has been a game changer for me.

One of the things that is hardest about being a published author is productivity and time management. Now, more than ever, we’re being told to keep up a social media presence, an up-to-date website, a newsletter. 

We aren’t just writers – we’re businesswomen and men. We have to do that promo, keep accounts, write books, stay on top of what’s happening in the market. And it’s sooooo easy to get caught up in the daily dross and realize at the end of the day that you’ve written exactly 500 words, and that was a blog and not on your WIP.


(Just FYI – I’m writing this AFTER I sent my current partial to my editor, k?)

For five years…yes I said FIVE….since selling my first book I’ve been struggling with this time management thing. And I got frustrated. I kept feeling like I needed to WRITE MORE but I wasn’t sure how to do it. Saying I had to get my butt off the internet wasn’t always working.  One of my tricks was still to take all my admin and do it at the beginning of the month (like guest posting and website updates etc.). But sometimes you just can’t let stuff go until the end of the month.

The first thing I did to “free” up more time was cut back on some of my involvement in places around the web. It was scary, believe it or not, but I’ve felt so good about it since that I know it was the right decision.  That helped a lot. The fewer directions to be pulled, the better it is. Simplifying helped a lot.

And then someone came up with #1k1hr on twitter. Don’t know who it was. Don’t remember the first time I did it even. But after the first time or two I saw the results and the rest is history.

What happens is this: Someone will post a “call” for #1k1hr on twitter that will look something like this:
@DonnaAlward: Hey @AnnetteGallant @jenniemarsland @writercatfox - I'm starting #1k1hr on the :30. You in?

Annette, Jennie and Cathy are chaptermates of mine, in case you’re wondering.

Or I may just say hey, I’m going #1k1hr on the :15. Who’s with me?





I usually do this 15-20 minutes before I’m ready to start, to give people a chance to join in. Then at the allotted time, a tweet goes out with everyone’s name, the hashtag of #1k1hr, and hopefully the word GO!

And that’s it. You don’t check e-mail, you don’t tweet (I’ll confess I’m terrible at popping in on occasion) but you do write for an hour, with a goal of a thousand words.

At the end of the hour, you check back in and post your total. Sometimes it’s a measly few hundred if you’re editing, and sometimes it’s 1200 if you’re having a great day.

Usually people take a 15 min break or so, and go again. 15 minutes is perfect for throwing in a load of laundry, grabbing a snack, using the bathroom. J I try to do 2-4 a day, depending on what’s going on. My first hour is usually light on words because I go over what I did the day before to get back into the story and pick up where I left off. But then…well, I’m averaging between 2-3000 words a day this way.

2000 words x 20 days in a month (I don’t work weekends) is 40 000 words. That means a book in 5 weeks for me.

How well can this really work? The numbers tell the truth:

On September 6 I had 12k written on the Harlequin Romance I had due. I handed it in, I believe, on September 26th. It sold October 14.

In October, I wrote 17k on a novella, hated it, scrapped it, wrote 32,000 words and subbed it on November 4.  It sold November 21.

From November 4-now, I’ve been working on a holiday romance for Harlequin. It’s due February 6. It’s on my editor’s desk.

The odd thing is I STILL have time for all the other stuff. The difference is, I work on it before 9:30 a.m. and then after 2:30 p.m. because that’s when I start having kids home and it’s far easier to wade through e-mail and deal with requests then, than write.

Game changer. I’ve never been so productive, and I’ve never been less work-stressed.

Other benefits? A group atmosphere for support and overall goodwill. It’s harder to skive off if you’re in a group. Especially if you’re at all competitive! I hate when I post 2-300 word totals – even if I have a very good reason!

And #1k1hr has also brought me a ton of new followers and people I follow too.

Social media can be such a time suck, but this one thing has made it all worthwhile. And if any of you ever want to try it – and I know Anita Mae is reading and she already joins me quite often – you can find me on twitter @DonnaAlward. The more the merrier.

Now…since you deserve a reward for all your hard work, head on over to the Yankee Belle Café because I think Ruthy’s posted my Apple Cake recipe and it’s fantastic if I do say so myself!

And Happy New Year.  May 2012 bring you many many finished manuscripts!

101 comments :

  1. Love the idea! I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the information.

    Christina

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  2. It sounds like you've hit on a secret, Donna - and a good one.

    I'd love to write at the pace you've been going! I have three more book ideas to follow the one I just finished, and today I stumbled upon an absolutely awesome idea for another series...how else am I going to get all that writing done unless I up my daily word count?

    Once the new year starts back on a normal schedule I'm going to try this game changer out for myself. I'll be watching for you on twitter!

    Hot chocolate with whipped cream for the late nighters is on the buffet - I'll wait until tomorrow for the cake.

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  3. Sorry everybody! That last post was from me - my son has been on my computer again and I forgot to sign him off!

    On the upside, you get to see the picture of our darling husky-mix, Winter, in all her plush glory :)

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  4. Wow, Donna, my hair is standing on end tonight as I'm just trying to get to 1,000. I love this idea. I HAVE to turn this production level up or I'm going to be swamped. Thanks for the tips! I will try this tomorrow using my timer as my accountability buddy until my pals are back from vaca.

    LyndeeH

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  5. What a fun post! I love your style, it's like we were having coffee. :D

    I don't tweet and I would love a group to write with BUT I have to write in the middle of the night, when the kiddos are asleep. I guess my versaion of the game changer was actually keeping track of word count. I mean, DUH, right? But I honestly was just writing, and telling the story, with scnes as goals, not word count.

    Once I got that figured out, I've been hugely more productive!

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  6. Heehee, Jan! Loved your new/old profile picture. :D

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  7. Hi Donna:

    I find that when I write 1000 words or more in one hour that 90% of them are dialogue. Do you find that you are dialogue heavy when you go for speed?

    Vince

    P.S. The new photo is great!

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  8. Interesting observation, Vince. I find that's true for me too, so I'm curious about your answer on that, Donna.

    LyndeeH

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  9. Donna,

    When the Weekend Edition announced your topic, I was intrigued. Wow!

    I tend to ask a bunch of questions and I'm trying to hold myself back. :) Vince's question is the tip of the iceberg.

    So, are you a plotter or pantser? In other words, when you start these books, how much do you know from the get-go about where you're heading? And how much editing do you have to do when finished?

    Do you think this is easier for you since you have written quite a few books and have a good feel for the 3-act structure, or whatever?

    Last question. Have you tried using an Alphasmart or do you write straight on the computer in Word?

    I'm going to try this. Thanks!

    Cathy

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  10. Fascinating! I have to side with Vince: when I go for speed, I pull in all the dialogue.

    I'd love to have that kind of productivity!

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  11. Virginia, I was thinking the same thing! 1)Is there anyone crazy enough to be doing that at night and 2)I just really plain hate twitter and don't tweet. But I love the concept, I'm competitive enough to be upset if I turn in a low word count. Maybe I can form a word count for a night group for writing mothers? Hmmm. But without tweeting.....

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  12. Did you all NOTICE the size of Donna's name font on her books?????

    That means people look for her name. AVIDLY.

    I love this idea. I love anything that helps spur me and others into writing mode because DUST CAN WAIT.

    And should wait.

    Editors? Well, they're more finite and you've got to strike while the fire's hot, but first you must (I know, I know, I know, you're so sick of hearing this that you stopped reading three sentences ago, but I'm going to say it anyway...)

    Finish the book. Write. Write. Write. And it's so exciting to see this kind of progress. You can literally feel Donna's excitement come through this post and I'm totally psyched over this. The last time I was totally psyched was when I had a new grandbaby, so obviously I think highly of 1K1Hr!!!!

    Drackler. Cake. Yes. Ah, it's Jan!!! Gorgeous dog!

    Virginia, that works too! As long as we do it, we don't have to have company.

    But for some, the spur of company and the challenge of DARE YOU TO DO IT gets 'em moving.

    Melissa, use an e-mail list instead. Or a Yahoo or Google group. I'm a middle of the night writer too, but I love doing it then because no one bothers me.

    I LOVE NOT BEING BOTHERED.

    Vince and Sherri, I think that's normal. And then you can layer in introspect and description later. But the flow is usually good when I go for speed. Which is every day of steady plodding, like an old draft horse.

    Just call me a Clydesdale.

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  13. Okay, my 1000 words are done... My young heroine just faced a minor Armageddon when she realized that the legalities of taking over two little boys boggle the mind, especially with foggy paperwork and tough-minded old people.

    Nothing is simple.

    Oy. Oy. Oy. And duty calls. Poor thing. How on earth will she get it all done just weeks before Christmas????? And owing scads of money, besides????

    I'm making a cool wedding cake/reception cake today for a serviceman and his beautiful bride. He's back from Iraq and they will be settling in Fairbanks Alaska for 18 months in two weeks. So wedding reception (no time for it last year) this weekend and off to the frozen terrain in January. Claire's job in Alaska? To feed me info about being a young army wife caught in a tough climate. Yes, I'm willing to use my friends for my own gain, LOL!

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  14. When I see authors saying they've written 1000 words or often 5000 words and they've finished a book in 6 weeks I often wonder how it's possible. I understand the word count but the idea of writing that many words and not changing 50% of them amazes me! To be able to write pretty clean copy upfront is one terrific talent.

    For example NanoWrimo. How many writers can take a completed, 'ahem' Nano book and within one or two quick edits have it ready for submission? Or, is it months of revision and polishing?

    Vince, when I write a new chapter like this it is almost always 90% dialogue, and my narrative reads like Dick and Jane!

    Signed, slow and painful rewriter

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  15. What a great idea!
    Thanks, so much for sharing today. I'm impressed by how much more productive you've been. I'll have to follow up on this.
    Thanks again!
    Joyfully,
    Jackie

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  16. Welcome to Seekerville Donna. What a great idea to get those words in. Thanks for sharing. Sounds like your idea appeals to a lot of us.

    Jan, love the photo of Winter. What a gorgeous dog.

    Apple pie. With my chocolate velvet coffee. yum.

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  17. Good morning, Donna! Great ideas!

    I've long been a "timer" writer because my daily writing window is so very limited. I love it when I reach that 1000 words in an hour goal and am ecstatic when I hit 1500. Mary Connealy suggested that when you're trying to increase daily word count to start inching it up by small increments over a few weeks time. That's what I plan to do after the first of the year as I attempt to learn to write faster.

    Vince -- I find I write dialogue much faster, too, and when I'm shooting for wordcount alone, it's pretty much "talking heads" and not a lot of introspection, body movement or description.

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  18. Hi Donna,

    I don't twitter but I do use the 1000 words per hour idea. On Saturday in October I logged over 4000 words on my WIP trying the 1000words per hour. And I finished "chores" and a sewing project in between that day.

    I don't follow twitter though...maybe that should change in 2012!

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  19. There's no one as inventive as a writer is there? What a great idea! I'm not on twitter, but I like Glynna's idea of being a timer writer. I think I'll start racing the clock and trying to best myself.

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  20. Oh my goodness...so many questions and I need to do them justice - can you all wait a few hours? I have a doctor appt this morning, but I PROMISE to come back and answer everything properly.

    And I have a confession, too.

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  21. Amazing Donna! Great to know it can be done. If I didn't need the internet for research (I write historicals) I would get so much more writing done. FB, email, and twitter suck me in when I should be writing.

    I've just followed you on twitter. I'd love to have some of your productivity rub off on me. Now I think I'll go practice and write 1k1h :)

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  22. Ok I have a few quick minutes before I have to blast off so I'll get started....

    Jan - do find me on twitter! Once the house clears of kids and the husband, I'll be hitting work with a vengeance...

    Which brings me to my confession.

    I wrote the article and stated that my book was on my editor's desk. I jinxed myself with that because I was DETERMINED that it would be so. However, it is not. December was INSANE and I cut myself a break. If I'd had a deadline breathing down my neck, I would have fought harder.

    But I didn't. The good news is I'm DYING for good writing time again and should wrap it up in a few weeks. One thing about a break - I find I'm really productive when I'm back, so it might not have been such a bad thing.

    But December made a liar out of me.

    :-)

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  23. Virginia - there are lots of people who write at night, or are in different time zones...you might find some takers on twitter if you send out the call.

    There are also things like Write or Die or another method I used which is the Chunk Method (Michelle Styles got me on that one) where I sat and wrote 750 words before I could take a break. 3 of those gave me over 2000 words a day - a respectable word count! It was based on words not time, but I find the #1k1hr taps into my competitive side.

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  24. One more before I have to dash - Vince. Hi! :-) Good question!

    The answer is yes and no. There's a rhythm to my writing that's a blend of dialogue, physical and emotional beats that is there no matter if I'm drafting or not. So I'm not SUPER heavy on dialogue when I do my #1k1hr. That being said, it is very much a draft and I do find that I have to go through and layer in MORE - so it's definitely not full enough, you know?

    It is why my first hour always has a lower word count, because I usually go back through what I wrote the day before and fill it out a bit. It puts me back in the story and warms me up for the next few sessions. :-)

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  25. Welcome to Seekerville, Donna! Thanks for your post. I'm blown away by your productivity with #1k1hr! From all your sales, those words are great ones too.

    Your books look terrific. I'm awed by the size of your name on the covers!! Congratulations!

    Janet

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  26. Donna, I'm all in.

    The accountability your system offers is exactly what I need. I generally shoot for 3000 wds a day. That's about a ten hour time span with lots of interruptions.

    This 1k1hr could liberate 7 hrs of my day.

    Thank you for the invitation to join you.

    See you on twitter, soon.

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  27. I LOVE THIS!
    Donna, welcome to Seekerville.
    Donna is my Petticoats and Pistols buddy. How come Ruthy gets to host you when you're on Seekerville, huh?
    She's faster than me, that's why!
    2-3k a DAY????!!!!
    wow
    I love this idea. LOVE IT!
    I'm doing it.

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  28. VINCE, I write dialogue heavy on a first draft, too. Particularly when I'm pushing for speed. But that gets fixed in edits, right? :)

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  29. Okay, Lyndee just said what I was thinking.

    Hair standing on end.

    I am going to give this a try but I am very very frightened.

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  30. I <3 1K1KR!!!! I think Erica Vetsch was the first one to introduce me to it!

    I don't remember who asked it up there, but I'll tell you how it works FOR ME with 1k1hr and NaNo etc.

    Of course, WHEN I manage to get a book deal, it'll be my NAME Ruthy's looking for with her magnifying glass... ;)

    My rough drafts are just that. ROUGH! Very rough! Sometimes more than others. The NaNo this year is so very very rough. Not all are this bad. But using 1K1HR is great way to get that rough draft done.

    If I'm in the zone with no distractions [can you say Panera?!?!?! This is how I get my 10-13K Panera days.] I can get well over 2k1hr. But it takes a couple hours to get there like Donna said. My first couple hours are usually respectable but not that great.

    I also break it down further. I set my timer for 15 minutes, type like the wind, stretch for 30 seconds or a minute then repeat 4xs. For me, 10 minutes is too short to get in the groove and 20 minutes is too long and I get distracted.

    And, I uh, check in Twitter and Facebook more often than I should ;).

    I've found some new friends doing #1K1HR.

    So so so so so love this!

    Thanks for sharing how you do it, Donna!!!

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  31. Donna, love this idea! I tried NaNo for the first time in November. I found that having my story line already planned out helped me have some great writing days. I did write 1k or more on some days. Since then, finding time to write has been tricky. I'm going to have to try this come January. That means I might even have to join Twitter (haven't done it yet, afraid of the time sucking factor). Thanks for sharing today!

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  32. Okay peeps - for those of you who don't use Twitter...

    Here's a Facebook group for #1K1HR.

    It made me add someone to get started, so Melissa you were chosen ;). It's a 'closed' group so anyone can see who's in the group but can't read what's written etc. Feel free to add anyone you know who would participate :).

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  33. 607 on my first attempt. Not great but more than I would have done if I didn't try.

    Think I'll go 'practice' some more ;)

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  34. Hi Donna,

    Sounds like a great plan, except I don't have a clue about twitter and only scan facebook now and then. But I love the timer idea.

    Just finished a ms that I started in Nano and I'm revising it and another one. So I'll have to wait to try the new method.

    Got a new lap top for Christmas and I can't get used to the keyboard yet. The shift key is in a different spot - urgh!! All in good time.

    Cheers,
    Sue
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

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  35. Thank you, Donna! I can see how this could work for anyone. A combination of camaraderie, accountability and competitiveness has to be a good thing! I'll be giving it a try!

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  36. Another true believer in #1k1hr here.

    I know there's been some debate about quality vs quantity but I think it comes down to knowing yourself. I love to write but it also intimidates me (all that self-doubt)so I have to play mental games with myself. #1k1hr is one of the best.

    One of my favorite parts of #1k1hr (in addition to all the ones Donna mentioned) is that sense of satisfaction at the end. You can look at those words and know if you hadn't done THAT #1k1hr THOSE particular words would never have appeared on paper (or screen). I've had plot twists that developed simply because of how my mind ran during a #1k1hr session.

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  37. Jan, I love the picture of Winter. Soooo gorgeous and fitting of the name. My dog is an autumn-colored do so the name Fenway fits for those World Series games in October. ;)
    (right Ruthy???)

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  38. I LOVE this idea, Donna! I don't Twitter, but I've noticed these challenges appear on the FB feed from authors who linked their Twitter and FB accounts. Can a person join the 1K1H from the FB feed, or does it all have to be on Twitter?

    Thanks for stopping by and challenging me this morning to get busy! :o)

    --Kirsten

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  39. Donna, Mary, Carol, and anyone else that might have insight-

    Several of you have commented that you write with abandon, then go back and fill in emotion, details, etc. So how do you know when/where to stop (besides at the end of the story, lol).

    The reason I'm asking - I have written like that also, and ended up with 100,000 words on a 70,000 manuscript. Having to edit that much is a massive waste of time (for me). I would be better off writing more deliberately, and ending near the 70,000 mark.

    Is there a way you gauge your work somehow, say try to get the story finished in 60,000 with a ten left over for details? I know this isn't an exact science and we're all different, but any clue on how not to over-write would be helpful.

    Thanks,
    LyndeeH

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  40. Lyndee -

    I think you have to figure out what works best FOR YOU.

    The one I'm working on right now [Finding Mr. Write] 'ended' at just over 60K. I know it needs to be in the 85K range so I'll be adding to it. I knew I would be. I have a [still in complete] list of scenes/chapters to add as I go through edits.

    For some people, it may be writing with abandon for an hour then going back and editing that stuff. Or doing edits to yesterday's writing in the morning, writing with abandon for a couple hours in the afternoon, sleeping on it and starting over.

    For me, I knew where the story was going to end. I got there and ended ;). As for overwriting...

    I have one MS that is finished at about 100k but needs to be 80-85. Fortunately[?], it's a sequel so if I never sell the first one, I never need to polish it down ;). But I LOVE the story so we'll see if I do it anyway. I know there's lots of superfluous stuff in it that will come out in edits and I'm okay with that because I do absolutely adore the story. If I wasn't in love with it, it would probably feel like a waste of time too.

    That's the only one I've had go so far over. Usually, I shoot for 65-75K for my first draft and add later but I also just 'go with it' and end up where I end up. Very scientific no?

    I think it's just a matter of what works for you...

    We're up to SEVEN on Faceook book! Join us!

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  41. Uh, apparently you didn't read that sentence before the link in my last post, Tina ;).

    I trust y'all are as fluent in typo as I am, though :D.

    A couple of writer groups I'm on on Facebook do this within the group but there's other purposes for them. A #1K1HR group for those who prefer FB for whatever reason just makes sense ;).

    And with TINA's addition, we're up to 8!!!!

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  42. Lyndee, I am very deliberative about STOPPING. I pay attention to the book's word count and watch it climb. ON a 90k book, when I get to 60-65K I think, "Time to start wrapping this up."
    And then I do it.

    I also think that, though I tend to go heavily for dialogue, like Donna said, I go back right away and fix that. I don't write a whole book that way then have a 90k book that needs deep revisions. Instead I go back the next day to what I wrote the previous and edit, bring in the layers.
    Also, I think with practice (I hope) I don't need to make quite such drastic revisions. Put another way (based on re-reading some unpublished earlier work) I've gotten better.
    So instead of needing ten passes through a scene to fix it. I need three (or seven-whatever).
    So the revision phase isn't quite so onerous.
    So you need to figure out how long you want that book to be, girl and when you get close, wrap it up. Don't write 100k for a 70k book. So that comes down to who your targeting? Know the market. Know the line you're focused on. If it's LI, then you need to start wrapping it up at about 40k, leaving room for that black moment and the explosive conclusion, plus happily ever after.

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  43. Virginia, I used to write late at night - now I just fall asleep. :(

    But - that's one of the things I love about #1k1hr. There's generally someone around no mater what time it is if you put out a call. I find if I know someone else is out there writing too, it feels less solitary and I'm less likely to give in to the siren call of sleep.


    Lyndee, I think Carol's right that it's a matter of finding what works for you. For me, the biggest hurdle is getting those draft words on the page. This is probably going to sound slightly psycho, but I struggle to get myself to sit down and turn the computer on. It's too easy for me to convince myself I can't write anything worthwhile. By committing to #1k1hr, I silence that negative voice and unblock myself. Once I've done that, the words tend to flow (admittedly some times better than others). It sounds psycho because you'd think I'd learn the lesson. I don't. GRRRR. I struggle with it every time (which is why I'm responding to this rather than writing right now!) So I guess you could say #1k1hr helps me psych myself out.

    How was that for a useless answer? I do like Donna's method of using the first hour to rewrite. I tend to do the rewriting at the end because I'll get too carried away if I do it first.

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  44. I got my 1000 words done for the day. And it's early. I usually write later in the day. So maybe I can go for 2000. Sweet!

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  45. What a great conversation. MaryC, that was very helpful about having trouble just sitting down to get started. I can so relate!

    Mary Conneally, Thanks for explaining how you figure out when to start rounding up the story, based on length. Do you worry about dividing the story into chapters as you go?

    This is a great topic as we head into the new year. Thank you, Seekerville!

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  46. Terrific idea, Donna! You are one productive lady. Social media, that necessary evil, IS a hugh time suck...and addictive. I suggest to my clients that they only allow themselves one hour for social media catching up and marketing.

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  47. Hi, Donna! What a fun idea! The ACFW chapter I used to belong to did this at a monthly meeting once. We were all told to bring our laptops and be ready to write uninterrupted for a solid hour. The person who logged the most words won a prize. Several of us easily topped 1K.

    It's amazing what you can get done when you just let the words flow and don't stop to edit yourself, check email, or whatever. I need to try this on my own more often!

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  48. I divide it as I go. I think in terms of pages usually, four, five, six seven. It's not hard and fast. Sometimes more than one scene per pages.
    I hit enter a couple of times, no page breaks ever, and write Chapter One I always include the WORD Chapter because I can hunt through the document using FIND and quickly find my place if I need to go back or test chapter length.
    If the scene breaks at say...two pages I put this in [st]
    I have no idea what it means.

    I used to put this in [SB] which means Scene Break (I think!?) But someone said [st] is the correct editorial mark for a scene break.

    I asked my editor what it meant.
    He had no idea.
    I asked him why he told me to do it if he didn't know what it meant.

    He said, "I didn't tell you to do that."

    So......mystery there!

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  49. Wow, that last comment makes NO SENSE. I am talking about Chapter length. It will probably still make no sense. I apologize

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  50. Cathy - I'm a pantser, but I always have a fairly good idea about the characters, the main conflicts, and usually a few scenes in my head.

    I tend to write a fairly clean first draft, but that's because it's not *really* a first draft. I always go over what I did the day before and layer, and there are also times when something doesn't feel right that I go back and make a big change once I've thought about it - sometimes deleting a whole scene, or inserting a scene...so when I get to the end, I've made notes about threads I need to make sure I've woven through because as a pantser i've learned a lot about the characters as I go along. I write in word only.

    And yes, this is easier now, simply because I have learned to trust my process and now it is a matter of making it more efficient.

    Great questions!

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  51. Mary it made perfect sense to me. (not sure if that should bring you any comfort though)

    I spell out the word chapter too so that I can use the find tool to figure out where I am or where I've been or something like that.

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  52. Melissa- this definitely doesn't have to be limited to twitter! Taking the idea and tweaking it to fit your preferences is awesome!

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  53. Ruthie - I heart you. Need I say more?

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  54. Debra - everyone has their own pace. And each book is different too.

    As far as not changing - I bet 500 - 1000 of my daily words are revision words, and the other 1500-2000 are new ones, so I change more than it might first appear.

    I've never managed a whole NaNo - best I've done is just over 40k - and that was this year.

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  55. Jackie, Sandra, Glynna and Rose - thanks for popping in! What I love about this is all the positivity! Yay!

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  56. If Carol doesn't let me in I'm going to be SO MAD!!!!

    ;)

    (Imagine 8th grade pout of humongous, ginormous proportions...)

    Carol, great idea. I love the idea of a challenge, it always spurs me to citius, fortius, altius.

    Not that I'm competitive or anything! ;)

    Good girl.

    Donna I heart you right back. And I love your work, but I haven't had time to play in your Samhain stuff... Tell us about that. Please and thank you.

    Hey, bits of wedding cake with fresh buttercream frosting are coming your way, folks. And it's starting to 'shape up...'

    Which is wonderful!

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  57. I didn't join in on any of the writing sprints during NaNo because the stress of participating was enough.

    But I like this idea, especially when one doesn't feel particularly motivated throughout the year, and to help me meet weekly/daily writing goals.

    I'll be checking this out in 2012.

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  58. I've got to run again but I scanned the comments and they are AWESOME and I can't wait to come back and join the discussion! Doc appt went well thank goodness - and then it was errands and my husband is cooking dinner so I can catch up a bit - but I have to go pick up my daughter so I'll be back after some dinner! Thanks so much for being here! This is just what I needed to get in the mood for hitting the word count again!

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  59. Thanks, Mary Connealy, Carol M, and Mary C. What great input and direction on when to round up the storyline. I appreciate the time you spent here to offer your concrete ideas on developing that ending benchmark.

    Maybe the best news is that my WIP is at 35,000 right now, so I'm close to starting that down hill lunge to the HEA. Whoohooo... :) This is a game-changing day for me.

    Seekerville rocks! All of you are so generous. I'm grateful to be here.

    LyndeeH

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  60. Donna, I love your method! Writing in short, concentrated chunks of time works for me. To invite others to join me as an adventure in writing, of sorts, is a terrific idea.

    And obviously the results are impressive. Keep it up and who knows? I might answer your call and join you for an hour of writing soon!

    Thanks for joining us in Seekerville again : )

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  61. LYNDEE -- Love Inspired contemporaries are 55-60,000 words. First draft I shoot to tell the story in 50,000, knowing I'll easily add 10,000 more when I return to revise, polish, layer, etc. After doing that, I usually overshoot the 60K mark and have to go back in again to trim & tighten.

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  62. LYNDEE--Like Mary, I don't get through the entire book as "talking heads" (in fact the first 3 chapters need to be fairly well polished as they--along with a synopsis--are what sells the book before I've written all of it)-- I tend to reread and revise about every 3 chapters. But I still overall shoot for 50K the first round.

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  63. LYNDEE -- Love Inspired contemporaries are 55-60,000 words. First draft I shoot to tell the story in 50,000, knowing I'll easily add 10,000 more when I return to revise, polish, layer, etc. After doing that, I usually overshoot the 60K mark and have to go back in again to trim & tighten.

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  64. I let you in Ruthy.

    I debated.

    But I did.

    Someone check my sanity?

    ;)

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  65. Hi Jamie and Kav! You know, the internet is such a time suck in so many ways, but this is one time it actually HELPS with productivity!

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  66. Wow, I got 2000 words written today. Sweet!

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  67. LOL Lyndee! All the sudden you realize your book is almost DONE!!!

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  68. Hi Janet!

    Bridgette (I hope I spelled that right!) - I SO hear you on that! I was really struggling to get everything done. With close focus on #1k1hr, I managed to get in my word count and address e-mail etc. by 2 p.m., work on admin until about 3, and then still have an hour or more when kids were arriving home from school etc. to tackle some household chores.

    It didn't work so great in December with 6 concerts, unending drama rehearsals, shopping, wrapping, decorating, etc....but we all know December is a force all its own.

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  69. *Sends Mary a giant hug* I love my filly sisters! But I never turn down an invite from the Seekers. ;-)

    Tina - don't be afraid. It's something that's worth trying. There are definitely times when I don't come close to 1000 words in an hour. No matter how many I get, it's more than I had before, and more than I'd have if I procrastinated and played Zuma for an hour. ;-)

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  70. Carol - yes yes yes! I find too that every 15 min or so I give a stretch and give my head a shake. And I've met so many great people through 1k1hr. One day Carly Phillips and I were doing it at the same time and there's something wayyyy cool about thinking, "hey, Carly Phillips and I are writing together right now, at exactly the same time."

    And I had no idea about the FB group, so thanks a million for posting that! Not everyone likes twitter, so that's great!

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  71. *waves hello to Susan!*

    Jamie, don't fret about the 607. That's pretty average for my first hour, and then the second and third hours usually break the 1k mark if things are going well.

    Donna said "A combination of camaraderie, accountability and competitiveness has to be a good thing!" That's EXACTLY it! You're not in it alone, but you have to report in after the hour and NO ONE wants to be the one with 200 words. When you want to goof off, you really do think...but at the end of the hour I have to post my total. LOL.

    And when the story's going well, sometimes you forget to check in. I think my highest daily total was writing THE END of my book I handed in in September. I wrote over 6k that day, but you could wipe the floor with me at the end. :-)

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  72. Mary C - ok so it's funny how many people I know from visiting other blogs regularly (Mary is at the Healthy Writer blog, which I visit every day since I've waged an ongoing battle with writer's bum!).

    I think it's perfectly okay to play mind games with ourselves, Mary, and this is absolutely one I play with myself. Whatever it takes.

    Kirsten - I don't know if you can join the feed from FB or not - I don't think so since the hashtag is a twitter thing. BUT you could join the FB group that Carol mentioned. I don't post my 1k1hr updates to my FB feed - I use hootsuite with Twitter and can pick and choose which tweets I want to appear at both places. :-)

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  73. Re: the discussion about chapter length/book length - Lyndee, you've had some great answers so far. I write 50-55k, and now that I'm working on my...16th for Romance I think, it's almost like I'm hardwired for that structure. I don't even really think about it. I know that by the time I get to 35k things are going to start happening really fast and I'm on the downhill slide to the end. I usually come in right around 50-52k, and end up with between 55-57k. Which is pushing the 55k limit as my editor has reminded me on occasion.

    But I'm working on a longer story now and I confess that dealing with a longer length and finding that balance of elements is something that I think about with a fair bit of trepidation.

    With chapter length - I too write out the word Chapter so I can do a find... if I expand a lot or add or cut scenes sometimes my chapter markers have to move. Generally speaking my chapters run no shorter than 15 pages (I use courier new) and no more than 22-23. If I move them I look for places I have scene breaks or a major turning point/pov switch so I can leave it on a hook.

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  74. Ruthie asked about my Samhain stuff, so I'll explain.

    My first 2 books were bought by Samhain when they first opened their doors. Then I sold to the Romance line and for a long time I stayed busy writing for them.

    But once I settled into Harlequin world, I thought about trying a second line, trying some other stories. Well, those didn't fly with HQ, but I really loved both stories I'd worked on (Sold to the Highest Bidder and Breathe) and after some MAJOR revising, I subbed them to my editor at Samhain. For those of you targeting/writing for category, you know that there's a definite "something" that has to be there. For Samhain, I don't have to worry about that something. Also, the Romance line is bedroom door closed which is fine, but with my Samhain books the door is open. No more open than say a Desire or Presents, but open just the same.

    For my novella series, Samhain has been wonderful because I'm able to write shorter stories, and set them on the East Coast where I live. Most of my Romances are westerns, so it's a nice change of pace. And I think it helps to keep me fresh. Both editorial styles are different too, so I think I gain a lot from each approach. All in all it's been a great experience.

    Thanks for asking, Ruth. :-)

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  75. Donna - it's only about 8 hours old, but we're already up to 15 members, including 2 Seekers and I think most of the rest are Seekervillagers...

    One of the great things about Twitter is how many people are possibilities. There's almost always SOMEONE around - even for Ruthy who writes way before zero-dark thirty ;).

    Hopefully, the word will get around FB and we'll get a bunch of people too rather than limiting it to JUST Twitterers :D.

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  76. Oh my sainted aunt Jemimah, I've tried to post this a zillion times, then I became afraid I actually HAD posted this a zillion times...

    I love #1k1hr and I am looking forward to wrapping up my current editing job and getting back to it.

    I love the idea of the FB group.

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  77. ERICA! Oh my word, that made me laugh!

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  78. I so needed this before the new year.

    This year was my first NaNo and I learned writing for 20 minutes followed by a 15 minute break works for me. After the first round, I'll sometimes shorten my break to 10 minutes, but no matter what, I get a ton more accomplished with speed writing.

    I can't wait to get started w/my new ms next week.

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  79. Great ideas, Donna. I certainly need to up my productivity. Some of us tend to be much slower than others, but that's a natural tendency I need to overcome.

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  80. I liked the part about ending early and filling in. I usually go back and fill in from the day before, but recently I finished a LI cntemporary at 60K... Then after three weeks had a revelations and added some much-needed tension and a plot twist... We'll that got me to 64K.

    It was really funny because I always tell my daughter my word count every morning. Then I had to go backward! Instead of 52 and now it's 54, yippeee! It was 64, now it's 63, yippeeee! Hilarious.

    That open bedroom thing... There are some things I couldn't write to save my life. One of them is poetry. Another is a good bedroom scene. I just can't keep from imagining my grandmother reading it and frowning! :D

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  81. Carol, thanks for letting me in!

    I feel like I'm sitting with the cool kids in the cafeteria...

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  82. What a great idea!! Donna, thanks so much for being with us again and for sharing this. I'll definitely give it a try! It sounds like just the thing to get me going.

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  83. I've missed y'all this week! I've been in KY with my family with no Internet. But I'm home now, back on my computer, well rested and ready to jump back in. :)

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  84. Virginia - TELL ME ABOUT IT! One of the nicest compliments I ever got (from Vince who was here earlier) was that my scenes in Sold To The Highest Bidder were steamy without using euphemistic language. I focus far less on the physical and way more on the emotional. I find a lot of euphemistic language harsh and kind of a turn off, to be honest. Just goes to show it doesn't have to be graphic to be sexy.

    I did an article for Savvy Authors recently about keeping the bedroom door closed and how it's made me a better writer of sexual tension. Because let's face it - there's nothing sexier than that heart pounding anticipation of what if. I don't mind closing the door in the Romance line AT ALL.

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  85. Love this idea! Joanne did something similar during NaNo and it was fantastic to see her crank out words. I really need to do it.

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  86. Erica, too funny about trying to post a zillion times and then fearing you actually did. Oh the fun of blogger! :)

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  87. I've never done the twitter #1k1h. Didn't even know about it. It could be fun . . . if I stop ignoring Twitter. Right now Twitter and I are in a blissful ignore each other relationship. :)

    Anyway, I can write 1k/h. I'm just not sure I could do it under pressure. I get up early, like 5:00 am, and that's my best writing time because no one's up to distract me and nothing's going on to distract me.

    But then, I'm the type who gets lost in my fictional world and ignores social media, not the type to get distracted by it.

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  88. Naomi - that was me 10 years ago, when I started writing. I got up at 5 - either my husband was coming home from his shift or leaving for it, and the kids were still asleep. I got a lot of writing done in the 2 hours before things got crazy. It was so nice and quiet and I had a cup of hot coffee and just me and the keyboard!

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  89. Erica -

    I did a little dance when I saw your request, my Queen of the #1K1HR friend.

    Naomi -

    You're more than welcome to join us "cool kids" on the Facebook page.

    Virginia -

    I'm not sure I've *ever* been one of the cool kids before...

    ;)

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  90. Just what I needed to read, Donna. My cp does 1k1h, and after reading your blog, I'm going to try it. My new New Year's resolution. Thanks, Donna!

    Happy New Year!

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  91. You're welcome, Debby!

    I know I'm probably ahead of most of you (except those in the UK) but it's nearly 11 here and tomorrow is clean the house day as we're entertaining tomorrow night! I'm off to Bedfordshire as Bridget Jones would say! I'll check in in the morning.

    In the meantime, did everyone check out the apple cake recipe at the Yankee Belle Cafe today? ;-)

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  92. GlynnaKaye,thanks for sharing. It sounds as though you do over-shoot a bit, but in a way that allows for a quick edit to the correct word count. I'm writing Historical with a target toward LI so that's 70,000.

    Donna, love that you're now
    hardwired to hit that magic number, and 6,000 in one day? *All I can do it stare at you - what major numbers!*

    And Mary, you make me blush. Yes, it is shocking to me that I'm suddenly close to the end! If you entered a room and called out 'Hey novice' I'd be the one standing. ;) I have one manuscript under the bed, and one that I'm shopping, and a WIP that is almost breathing. Everything about this process is still new to me.

    OK, Carol, I've joined the FB group. Thanks for that. And I spent five minutes to find the extra kitchen timer that's been in my drawer and moved from house to house for the past ten years, and I'm ready and armed to start this process on my own if I miss the FB challenges.

    Thanks Donna, for this new productivity tool.

    LyndeeH

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  93. This sounds like a great idea and something I need to add to my repetoire. I've benn less than prolific of late.

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  94. Hi Everyone:

    If anyone is curious, and I am always curious, Donna wrote 2099 words today on this blog. That’s up to this point.

    Vince

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  95. Vince, I love you! That's a hoot and a half, my friend!

    Walt, December and June tend to be "Wassup?????" months because of family responsibilities. So I push myself to be productive when no one is around otherwise I feel like I'm off my game. Out of control. And I'm not, but it sure feels that way. But yes, this 1K1HR is a great way to punch yourself back into the game.

    Naomi, I'm so glad you said that, chica!!! Like you I get lost in my work and social media is no lure... Until I get to the point where I can take a break and then I connect online. Because that's a big part of building these days, and editors like us to build.

    But I love writing. It's my gift to myself and I love it that much. And I wrote extra before Christmas week
    because I know what happens when the world of children and grandchildren descends. So I prep the house, the presents, the food and the computer.

    And that makes me feel good!

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  96. This might actually induce me to get a Twitter account! It sounds like a great idea! A great motivator.

    You said: And it’s sooooo easy to get caught up in the daily dross and realize at the end of the day that you’ve written exactly 500 words, and that was a blog and not on your WIP.

    This is so, so, so, so true. But when I have a goal of 1,000 words, I can usually get them written in an hour, so I know this would work for me.

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  97. VINCE! That totally cracked me up!

    Thanks everyone for hanging out and listening to me blather on about it...when I find something that works I tend to get a little...enthusiastic!

    I look forward to seeing a lot of you on twitter! :-) Right now I'm getting ready for tonight as we're having a few people in. The house is clean and we've done some of our food prep already. We always make way more than we can eat, but tomorrow there won't be much cooking to do. Tonight we're having chicken satay skewers, cocktail meatballs, chicken wings, crackers and veggies with roasted red pepper dip, stuffed mushrooms, cheddar and bacon pinwheels, bacon-wrapped scallops, and fruit with chocolate fondue. Rumour has it one of our guests is bringing her famous lemon chiffon profiteroles.... *rubs tummy*

    Happy New Year to all - may 2012 bring you many blessings and huge word counts.

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  98. Thanks for the time management idea! That is definitely an area I am having trouble in. I may give your suggestion a try!

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  99. I'll have to look into this more.
    Great idea!
    Jan

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  100. Great idea - I will get tweeting and get on board. I've learned that if I say I will do it ...when...the when never shows up.

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