|Debby Giusti and her AlphaSmart|
Pooling resources is a win-win, so I asked the Seekers and some other author friends to share ways they increase productivity.
True confession! At the beginning of this year, I tried to give up my AlphaSmart and instead focused on writing picture perfect pages in the first draft. Regrettably, my productivity decreased and my frustration increased. For me, using an AlphaSmart keeps me moving forward. Each of the eight files holds about 25 pages of text when downloaded to my computer and formatted into Courier New, 12 font, double-spaced pages, with one inch margins.
My 55,000-word Love Inspired Suspense manuscripts run about 300 pages, or 12 AlphaSmart files. I start slow and then gather steam as I work through the story. By the last third of the manuscript, I often fill a file in a day. At that point, I’m pushing hard to get to THE END.
The only drawback is that the AlphaSmart doesn’t have a page or word counter so I have to estimate how much more I need to write to fill the file. After all this time, I often get a sense of when the end is near. Then I write as fast as I can until the FILE FILLED message pops onto the screen.
If I feel stalled at some point, I reach for my kitchen timer and set it for 30 minutes. Then I write non-stop until the timer dings. After a quick break, I keep writing. Some days, I’ll set the timer for 30 minutes and then another 30 and another because hearing the ticking clock pumps up the adrenaline and increases my writing speed.
|My old kitchen timer helps my productivity.|
Naming characters takes time. I work to ensure my characters’ names never start with the same letter of the alphabet. In the past, my editor has requested name changes in the revision stage. Now, I use a document with the alphabet typed down the left-hand side of the page. I fill in the characters’ names, both first and last—but only one name to a letter--to ensure I don’t have duplicates. Choosing names, before I begin to write the story, saves time and keeps me from making changes later.
|What type of vehicle shall my hero drive?|
When I’m writing fast, I sometimes forget the name of a minor, secondary character. Instead of stopping to look up the name, I add an identifying noun in caps, such as COP, or NURSE, so I don’t have to stop typing.
Janet Dean offers the following advice: I waste less time if I make sure before I write a scene that the point of view character has a goal that is working toward the book-length goal. Sometimes I even type his goal at the top of the page to remind myself--a good way to jump start my writing the next day. When my characters have concrete goals they're working toward, I won't end up with a pointless tea scene that must either be deleted or rewritten. Once I've written the scene and know if the point of view character did or didn't get his/her goal, then that helps me know what she or he will decide to do next. What his next goal will be. This technique gives me a framework of sorts to hang the story on.
|Janet Dean makes note of her character's goal in each scene.|
Missy Tippens shared this insight: When I write fast, my southern tendencies really come out. I'm very wordy and write like I talk! :) Writing fast involves turning off my internal editor, writing anytime I have a moment (and not waiting for huge blocks of time), and doing some planning ahead of time on where each scene is going.
A tip from Sandra Lee Smith: When I need to write fast, I always stop in the middle of a really intense scene, and that way I have no problem picking it up and starting over again. Also I leave a Post-it® note of where I'm heading to remind me.
Debby adds: Don't forget to drink lots of water and take frequent breaks.
|Water is a writer's friend.|
Such as…. [DESCRIBE THIS] OR [DOUBLE-CHECK THIS] OR [COME UP WITH A BETTER WORD] OR [WHICH DAY IS THIS?] OR [DID I ALREADY SAY THIS EARLIER?] OR [WHAT’S SHE WEARING?]
Lacy Williams uses brackets to turn off, what she calls, the mean old internal editor: I write [and use the brackets] if I can't think of the correct words. Or a research question. Or I think of something that should have been added in one chapter earlier. Then when I go through on my second (slower) draft, I can correct those things within the brackets, but I got through my fast first draft without stressing out and slowing down. (www.lacywilliams.com, First Kisses)
Simiarily, Deb Kastner uses asterisks in her first draft: When I'm cranking on my work, I use asterisks heavily. If I don't remember a name, need to research something or even can't figure out the exact word I want to use, I star the area with three asterisks (and sometimes a word or two to remind me more or less what I was thinking about) and keep writing. Stopping to research or check a thesaurus slows me down. Later, the "blanks" are easy to find and fix. (www.debkastnerbooks.com, Redeeming the Rancher)
Pam Hillman offers advice on numbering chapters: Mostly, I don't even bother with them until I'm almost completely done with a story. Just use # # # or something and keep going. For scenes that aren't fully fleshed out, put... # # # Bill's brother's house burns down.... # # # (Once you write the next few scenes, you'll probably get the answer to what the scene above is lacking. Maybe... and Bill realizes how fleeting life is and determines to go for his dreams, etc.)
|Writers love sticky notes, paper or digital!|
When in doubt, don't be afraid to plow through. Just yesterday, I had a short bit that would have been nice to have in the heroine's POV, but it was really, really short and would have broken up a scene in the hero's POV. Instead of stopping and trying to think of enough "meat" to switch POVs, I added a note: WRITE THIS SCENE IN SAMUEL'S POV, BUT IN REWRITES CONSIDER SWITCHING TO ANNABELLE'S POV.
Ruth Logan Herne shares two tips: One is pre-planning or visualizing the coming scene in my head. While I'm working my day job (or driving, or riding in the car, whatever) I mentally pick up where I left off and wonder how the characters would react. Would anyone else walk on-scene? And if so, who would be most affected by that? That way, when I sit down to write, I've got a pre-planned idea of where I want the new scene to go.
Second, I re-read whatever I wrote at the last session, and that helps me to feed into this new scene seamlessly. I tweak words and sentences as I go (even in Speedbo) because that gives me a really tight first draft. When the book is complete, it doesn't generally need a lot of revising, if any. And that saves me a huge amount of time in the end!
Here’s a tip from Caralynn James that’s one of my favorite timesavers: At the beginning of a scene I write the day of the week and the time of day and whether it’s the hero’s or heroine’s POV in bold red caps.
|Barbara Phinney listens to classical music as she writes.|
Pamela Tracy says: I'm a night writer and write on the fly... I write until I have 1000 words. When I get to 500 words, I have permission to get a drink or snack. Not until. If I have to go to the loo, suddenly getting 500 words happens pretty fast. If I'm blocked after 1000 words, I edit. I have a family of dolls (similar to Barbies), and they role play to keep me going. (www.pamelatracy.com What Janie Saw)
|Pamela Tracy role plays with dolls when she's stalled.|
Patty Smith Hall creates her first draft with pen and paper: It's no secret that I turn out pages faster when I write in longhand. For those who have a particularly hard time turning off that internal editor, writing longhand allows me to just go with the flow--it gives me permission to “mess” with an idea and see if it really works.
|Patty Smith Hall writes her first draft with paper and pen!|
Dana Mentink says: Kick your inner editor to the curb! Write fast and furious and know that whatever you produce is the starting point, not the finished product. When you stop fussing over correctness and such, the words really start to flow! Also, I'd suggest turning off all email, FB and Twitter for an assigned period of time. It's incredible how much these cool techno tools can undermine productivity! (www.danamentink.com, Force of Nature)
Larissa Reinhart suggests using a blackout screen: I write in Scrivener which has a blackout screen. Pages does, too. I’m not sure about other programs, but those screens keep your eyes focused on the page and block any email or social media popups.
Watch your word count. This helps me, encouraging me as the numbers tick higher. If it causes you anxiety because the words aren’t coming fast enough, don’t use it. Scrivener has a word counter. Pages and Word show the word count at the bottom of the screen. (www.LarissaReinhart.com, Death in Perspective)
Debby adds: While searching the Net, I found Rachel Aaron’s Pretentious Title blog. The June 8, 2011 post--How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day—was especially insightful and focused on three factors--Knowing, Enthusiasm, and Time—to increase productivity. Click here to read her blog.
Share your tips for writing fast and let us know what’s been the most help to get you speeding through SpeedBo. Anyone leaving a comment will be entered into a drawing for my March Love Inspired Suspense, THE AGENT’S SECRET PAST, and a digital copy of Rachel Aaron’s book, 2,000 to 10,000. How to write faster, write better, and write more of what you love.
Grab a SpeedBo Breakfast at the buffet bar. Today’s selection includes scrambled eggs and biscuits, assorted pastries and bagels, ham, sausage, sliced fruit and grits. Don’t forget to fill your coffee mug. Tea is available, either hot or iced, sweet or unsweetened.
I’m looking forward to finding new Writing Tips for Writing Fast so be sure to share what works for you.
Wishing you abundant blessings,
THE AGENT'S SECRET PAST
By Debby Giusti
THREAT FROM HER AMISH PAST
Eight years ago, a drifter destroyed Becca Miller's ties to her Amish community—and murdered her family. Now a special agent with
criminal investigation department, Becca knows her past has caught up with her
and doesn't want to relive it. She's convinced that the killer, who supposedly
died years ago, is very much alive and after her. Special agent Colby Voss
agrees to help her investigate. Yet the closer they get to the truth, the
closer the killer gets to silencing her permanently. Fort Rickman
Book Signing to Benefit our Wounded Warriors
Thursday, March 27, 4 PM to 6:30 PM
Omega Book Center
100 North Peachtree Parkway
Peachtree City, GA 30269
Call in your order and autographed copies will be mailed to you
with proceeds benefiting our military heroes.
|Day 19 of SPEEDBO!|