Good morning Seekerville!
This is Pam, and I've asked Robin Caroll to share some tips on prepping for a writing marathon. I've seen her go dark and resurface a few weeks later with a 90K book. It's an amazing thing to watch.
So, let's turn this show over to Robin. Welcome to Seekerville, girl!
Let me first say that I am so not a plotter. But I'm not a total pantster either. Let me explain.
I do very thorough character sheets on the protagonists and antagonists. I get pictures of them, do their history...everything. Here's an example of what I do: Madeline "Maddie" Baxter character sheet. That is just the first page of that character's information. I do this for my 3-4 main characters.
As far as plotting goes....I know the basics: Basic plot, setting....then I have my "open" areas: alibis, research, etc.
When I'm ready for a writing marathon, here are some tips that I've found helpful to me:
(Before starting, make sure you have someone else watching your children, doing whatever household stuff you normally do, etc. so you can spend some serious time focusing and being creative)
1. Neurologists have reported you can only concentrate on a subject for 42 minutes before you fade, if even for a moment. I get the scene I need to write in my head, set my timer to 45 minutes, and just write.
2. No editing allowed in your 45 minutes.
3. When the timer goes off, get up and stretch. Get a glass of water. Splash water on face. Whatever. Get out of your chair for at least 5 minutes.
4. It's ok to check email or text messages, but ONLY for 5 minutes. If you have to set a timer to make sure you don't get distracted, do that.
5. Take 5 minutes and read what you wrote in those 45 minutes. You can do minor editing here-but ONLY for 5 minutes.
6. Set timer and do it all over again. And again. And again.
7. STAY OFF FACEBOOK.
8. It's ok to send a quick tweet in your 5 minutes instead of checking email.
9. If you need to research something, make a note of the page # and just what you need (ex: pg 12-how do they answer the phone?) and keep going...don't stop to look it up. It's MUCH easier to do all those little research bits at once when you aren't writing.
10. After 4 sets of the 45 minutes, take 45mins to an hour and go for a walk, eat lunch (or any meal you might've skipped), do anything else except watch tv, check email, edit, get on facebook or twitter....the point is to keep your subconscious working on the next several scenes you're going to write.
11. Go through steps 1-10 again. Then, if you're still able and can, do them again. Remember to eat for energy. Fruits are great. Okay, so is chocolate. :)
I've written 65K words in 7 days doing this. 15K in one 24 hour period, but I don't recommend this unless you're up to it as it can be DRAINING. Some additional warnings: let your family/roommates know you're doing this. You will snap if someone interrupts your 45 min sessions and breaks your concentration. Turn the ringers off your phones. Lock yourself where you aren't tempted to even think about turning on the tv, "just to catch the news headlines." If you can totally turn off your internet and not check email, twitter, facebook, even better. (I can't-I just can't make myself). Let people encourage you. Tell them what you're doing. I send tweets (ok, it feeds into my facebook too when I'm doing it via my stupid-phone) of my word count goal percentage met every couple of hours.
Most importantly, reward yourself when you're done. If you hit your goal, woohoo-chocolate is in order! If you didn't, you still made progress! If you totally failed...well, hmm....try again later?
Pam again. What Robin didn't tell you is that her manuscripts are squeaky clean when she gets to the end of this process. Obviously, this isn't the way to write day after day, week after week, but if you're on a tight deadline, it gets the job done.
Or if you work a day job and find your creativity drained at the end of the day, or your day starts too early to get in the groove for writing, maybe carving out a few days to do a marathon would get a major chunk of the story out of your head and into the computer. Then you can concentrate on cleaning it up.
Another excellent Seekerville article is Cheryl Wyatt's Productivity. How to get the editor off your Shoulder to spit out the first draft. She gives some great pointers, and shows how getting up close and intimite with your story ramps up the word count the longer you stay imbedded with it.
So, there you have it. Robin's (and Cheryl's!) tips for churning out a lot of words quickly.And, if you want to see the final product of one of Robin's marathon writing sessions, throw your name in the hat with a comment for a chance to win a copy of Robin's latest release from B&H, Injustice for All, print or ebook, your choice.
Oh, and I just had an aha moment. Injustice for All is the 1st book in Robin's Justice SEEKERS series. Highly appropriate, wouldn't you say?