Monday, April 11, 2016

Are You a Chunky Writer?

Missy Tippens


Photo credit: Crestock/Danabeth555

No, this post is not about writers who reach for chocolate chunk cookies every time they stress. It's not about the sedentary lifestyle of a writer, or about our spreading middle if we don't do something about it. :) Believe it or not, I want to talk about our writing styles today. And I got the idea from reading Allie Pleiter's book, The Chunky Method: Your Step-By-Step Plan to WRITE THAT BOOK Even When Life Gets in the Way.

Let me back up a little. Several years ago, I attended the Southern Kentucky Bookfest and Writers Conference. I attended a workshop that Allie taught about using her Chunky Method and was very interested in the material. And I found it helpful since I am bad about comparing myself to other writers.

Do you get bummed when you hear about writers cranking out 6000 words in a day? Do you know without a doubt that there’s no way you could write that many words without short-circuiting your brain? Or, on the other side of the coin, do you hear about writers who take their notepad or laptop everywhere they go, writing while in the carpool line or during their lunch break, and question how anyone could get their brain in gear so quickly throughout the day? Or, hey, do you feel like maybe you’re something in between or a combination of both depending on the circumstances?

WE ALL HAVE DIFFERENT WRITING STYLES. AND THAT’S OKAY.

In Allie’s book, she recommends asking ourselves: How much quality writing (where creativity is at its peak) can I get done in a single sitting if not interrupted? That amount is our chunk. Allie says this amount is pretty consistent for each person. We can average out our best writing sessions and figure out our chunk type. And once we know what it is, then we can more effectively plan our writing schedules.

Do you often write for a period of time, and then feel exhausted and as if your brain won’t work any more? That’s probably the end of your ideal chunk.

Here’s a great quote from Allie’s book: “The important thing to remember here is that such a point is not writer’s block. It’s simply the end of your chunk. You haven’t run out of ideas, you’ve just run out of them for the time being.”



That mindset can help us overcome discouragement! If you’ve been comparing yourself to another writer…STOP. Just don’t do that. I know I have that tendency, especially after a month of Speedbo (the Seekerville book in a month challenge). During March, I would hear stories of amazing word counts (and celebrated each one!) but would let it get me down--especially since I was revising critiqued chapters, which goes even slower for me. Since I tend to write better in larger chunks with long stretches of uninterrupted time, I get envious when I hear of people who can write 1k in an hour in several sittings throughout the day. I also get frustrated whenever my normally uninterrupted time slots have been interrupted. While reflecting on my Speedbo month, I remembered Allie’s workshop and pulled out her Chunky Method book for ideas on how to improve my productivity.

Knowing our chunk size can help us plan our writing schedule. We can actually plan for writing in chunks instead of writing a certain number of pages or words per day/week. And if we need to increase our productivity, we can try to add an extra chunk to our work day/week! For me, at this time in my life, that may mean adding a chunk early in the morning or late at night after everyone is in bed (like in the olden days when my kids were little!). I think it will also mean moving my online time to periods when I have interruptions around me. I doubt y’all will mind if I’m commenting on the blog while my husband bangs around in the kitchen. :)

I only shared a little from Allie’s book. I hope you’ll check it out for yourselves, or will attend one of her workshops. [FYI: If you’re going to the ACFW conference this year, Allie will be teaching her Chunky Method!]



And remember, do not compare yourself to others! Just try to find your best method and use it to your advantage.




Today, I’ll be giving away a Kindle copy of Allie Pleiter’s Chunky Method book. Please let me know if you’d like to be entered. Now…let’s talk writing styles! (Or if you're not a writer, your style for accomplishing your projects.) Are you a sprinter or a marathoner?


110 comments:

Missy Tippens said...

Decaf coffee is on!

Trixi said...

My style for accomplishing projects (tasks in this case)? Probably more of a sprinter nowadays! Used to be a marathoner but have found over the years, I've gotten a bit slower and tire more easily. So I find I have to, say clean the house, I do it in chunks. Depending on how much I need to get done, I split it in half or thirds. Tackle half my to-do list one day, the other half the next day. It works! :-) I still feel like I've accomplished something for today & have a goal already set for tomorrow. And I also found I can switch up what chores get done on my list in what order, because, you know, life does have a way of interrupting!

Decaf sounds good, I may have a cup just before I head down the hall for a couple of hours of reading time! (No need to throw my name in the hat for Allies book)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh, my goodness this book looks so good. I am a craft book addict, and this one is now on my list!!!

Thank you. Chunky writers unite!!

Missy Tippens said...

Trixi, that's such a smart way to work! I bet you don't have to divide up that reading time, though, do you? :) I know I don't!

Missy Tippens said...

Tina, I know you'll like it. In fact, if you bought the collection of books titled Writing Success: Your Book from Start to Finish to Publication, Allie's book is included. I think maybe I remember the you mentioned buying that. So check first!

Missy Tippens said...

I never really said in my post, but I think my ideal writing chunk is around 1200-1500 words. But I'm not very fast, so that takes me a few hours. And if someone arrives home or texts or calls me, then it can throw me off.

Terri said...

Chunky writer - Whew, I was almost afraid to read this!

I'm always comparing myself to others and falling short, I like the idea of breaking that cycle. I cam comfortably write a thousand words on a workday, if I haven't been on the computer all day. If I have, then I'm toast. Maybe 500.

Kara Isaac said...

I'm so looking forward to taking Allie's class at ACFW in August!

If I'm having a writing day (which unfortunately are very rare!) I can probably manage about 5,000 words (broken up into about three chunks). So my ideal chunk is probably 1500-2000 words. If I'm working in the evening after a "real" work day then 1,500 is about the maximum where my brain collapses into a useless heap.

Would love to be in the draw!

Cindy W. said...

Great post Missy! Life does have a way of interrupting so my chunks of time in just everyday life vary now. I'm a caregiver for my 88 year old mother and she is going through some really rough issues right now so for the most part, when I have time to myself I usually have to take a nap. I know it's not a productive "chunk" but it is something necessary for me during this season that I am in.

I would love to be in your drawing.

Blessings,
Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

We women are the absolute worst at comparing ourselves to others. I don't know why that is, but it seems ingrained in most of us. And of course it's ridiculous, God's patterns shouldn't be up for comparison, right?

But we do it, and we're the sillier for it!

Missy, this is great advice! And it's so important for all of us to find our own way in this business. And it's time for REAL COFFEE here on the East Coast, so good mornin', youse!

And happy Monday!!!!!

Bettie said...

Please enter my name in the drawing.

Chunky writing sounds like a good plan, especially for those of us who have another career. Most of my chunks happen early or late in the day. I also find time for bigger chunks on weekends. I appreciate the comment that a completed chunk is not a case of writers block.

Jackie said...

Good morning! I heard today is Motivational Monday, and your post is definitely inspiring. Thanks, Missy! I'd love to have my name in the drawing.

Life has interrupted my morning writing time today, and your post today makes me feel a little better. Thanks and have a great Monday!

Jill Weatherholt said...

Hi Missy! Great post! I agree, comparing ourselves to others, especially when it comes to our writing, is a good way to turn those chunks into broken, tiny pieces. I guess I'm a weekend chunkster...some days more chunkier than others. I'd love to be entered into the drawing!

Rose said...

I love the don't compare advice! I've said that for along time because usually when we compare our writing life to others, we aren't comparing apples to apples.

I also think that applies to any time we compare ourselves to others!

Many days I use my lunch hour to add word count to my WIP. Sometimes it's 1000 plus words, sometimes it's much less, but at least it's progress.

Debby Giusti said...

I write in chunks so I'm totally tuned in this morning, Missy! Thanks for an interesting post.

I remember a workshop at Moonlight and Magnolias some years ago when the speaker talked about our brain needing rest at the 90 minute or so mark. Up until then, I had wondered why I would shut down at 90 minutes, even if I was in the middle of an exiting scene that was almost writing itself. I realized my brain needed a break. We are so interesting, aren't we? And knowing how we work best is half the battle.

I'm heading to the coffee pot! Did Ruthy bring cookies or pastries?

Leslie McKee said...

This sounds like a great book. Thanks for the post! I tend to work in chunks with many things throughout my day. That way, it keeps me from feeling overwhelmed with the task at hand.

I would love to be entered in the drawing.

Missy Tippens said...

Terri, you may have a workday chunk and a longer weekend chunk. I imagine it would be tough to write when you've been on the computer all day! It's hard on a body.

Missy Tippens said...

Kara, it sounds like you're one of the one who has a different chunk in different settings. Makes total sense.

That's amazing that you can get in 5k! I've done it before, but it took me something like 10 or 12 hours. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Cindy W. it's important to take care of yourself! I'm glad you know when to rest. That'll help make your other chunks of time more productive. I pray things will improve with your mother. Bless you for caring for her.

Missy Tippens said...

Ruthy, I love your quote: God's patterns shouldn't be up for comparison, right?

Amen to that!! And thank you for real, leaded coffee this morning! You put the pot on well before I was ready to get up. :) You and the chickens get to enjoy that first pot!! LOL I'll join you at a more reasonable hour. Of course...didn't I just say in my post I would possibly add a new chunk in the early morning??? ;)

Missy Tippens said...

Bettie, I, too, loved that quote of Allie's. I think it's encouraging to know it may just be time to rest and reboot, not throw in the hat! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Motivational Monday! Perfect! :) JACKIE thank you for letting us know. I hope the rest of your day goes better. I don't do well with interruptions and need to learn to chill a little.

kaybee said...

MISSY, I love this! I have a fair amount of self-discipline, but very little control over my own schedule. I "chunk" in a different way: I don't set daily or weekly goals, but I map out a season or number of weeks and plan what I want to accomplish, then fit it into that time frame -- and write every SPARE minute. It's going to need adjusting after I'm published, but it works fine right now for self-imposed deadlines. By June I want to have another set of revisions done on my main WIP and finish the Christmas novella from Speedbo. I have another project planned for the arc of June-July-August, etc. Works for me, for now, which is where we all live, right?
Best,
Kathy Bailey

kaybee said...

I like Trixie's idea of doing home projects in chunks. Especially the loathsome ones.
KB

kaybee said...

My crit partner is very linear, but she's also retired. SO I've learned not to compare myself to her.
Also, I try to do SOMETHING on my writing every day. If I'm too fried for actual writing there's always a contest entry to set up or social media to keep up. It's also a good time for research. Really, you can always find something to do to bring you closer to your goal. Even if it isn't the main project. Which is something we have to accept as women (and/or busy men). We WILL be interrupted, but if we're always doing something we never go back to square one.
KB

Missy Tippens said...

Jill, that's a good point! There's no way quicker to blow our writing chunks to smithereens than to compare ourselves to someone else.

Of course, I stand amazed at what others can do. Ruthy blows me away with her ability to write early, then dash off to take care of kids or paint walls or bake something amazing. Then she puts in another hour later. And then another hour...

RUTHY I WANT TO BE YOU WHEN I GROW UP! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Rose, that's so true! Our lives are so different it's impossible to compare anyway.

Good job on getting your word count in during your lunch hour! I love that kind of dedication.

Missy Tippens said...

Debby, that's an interesting tip on the 90 minutes until resting the brain. I'll have to watch and see if I fit that pattern. I'm bad about sitting for hours, and then I'm so stiff I can barely get up!

Missy Tippens said...

Leslie, I think this method could definitely help prevent that overwhelmed feeling. I'm a perfectionist who tends to get overwhelmed, so it's important for me to find a way to break a job into attainable chunks!

DebH said...

hi Missy
thanks for this post. I really need the STOP COMPARING note. I've discovered I have "chunk" time available, but alas, lately my creative muse has not been cooperating (too tired, I think, from work, doing graphic design). It takes me about two hours for 1K if I have an idea percolating.

I do best in small chunks, but can churn out a lot if under deadline. Of course after a big churn, my brain tends to be fried. I'll have to remember Debby's note of the 90 minute brain break. That will help me at my real job as well as my writing. Once again, Seekerville providing awesome learning material. THANKS!!!!!!!
(to the power of oh, I don't know... infinity?)

Missy Tippens said...

Kathy B, it sounds like you have a great handle on your schedule! I love that you can write in every available moment. You're so wise to move on to non-writing tasks when you're too tired to create.

It's amazing what we can accomplish when we set our minds to it! :)

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, WOW, Missy, did you just write this blog just for me???

Like you, I have a tough time when I compare anything in writing, although I have gotten world's better, thank God. But still, every now and then, I will read something that inevitably makes me feel less because I compare, so I find that gratitude for our own blessings is a great antidote!!

I never will understand how Ruthy and Mary can write at the drop of the hat, anytime, anyplace (I call them "picket-fence writers" because like those rare folks who can sleep on a picket fence, Mary and Ruthy can do the same with writing). But just as picket-fence sleepers are not the norm, neither are picket-fence writers. And yes, Mary and Ruthy, I just called you abnormal!! ;)

That said, my "chunk" time usually comes if I start writing first thing in the morning before anything else (which I don't always do since I like to pray/devo first, then email, then promo). But if I chunk first thing in the morning, what happens is I write until I'm finished with the scene, which could be early afternoon, at which point I am able to jump into everything else without guilt.

In my perfect world, I would get up at 4:00 AM like Ruthy does and get those 1,000 words in quickly, but alas, that only happens when I have a deadline.

Great post, Missy!

Hugs,
Julie

Cindy Regnier said...

Maybe I haven't found my chunk yet. I can do the 1k/1hr thing pretty well, but I'm always waiting for that day when I get that big stretch of time in front of me where I can write all I want. Sometimes I can crank out multiple thousands and sometimes I sit and stare at the blank screen. I work full time so it doesn't happen often, but those long spurts of writing are usually some of my best. Thanks Missy - love the cookie picture! Please enter me for Allie's book.

Missy Tippens said...

DebH, it must be difficult to have 2 creative jobs! That would definitely sap the brain cells. So yes, be sure to take some time to rejuvenate!

Missy Tippens said...

Oh no, Julie is calling Mary and Ruthy names!! ;)

Julie, it sounds like you've found a method that works for you. Especially near deadline time. Isn't it funny how the D-word (deadline) can light a fire under us! :)

Wilani Wahl said...

I put my current writing project first on my to do list after devotions on days when I am able to be home which is most days other than Sundays. I write until I have a page written but if I am in the midst of a very creative moment then I keep writing until I am done sometimes writing four or five pages before moving on to the other things on my list which includes editing and reading, Now I have also added the short stories I am writing for a contest in June. I find that the different chunks of writing depends on the book I am writing or at what spot I am in the book.

Please include me in the drawing for Allie's book.

Missy Tippens said...

Cindy, those long stretches are my best as well. My ideal would be to go away for a month (preferably to the beach!) and write the whole book. Maybe I should try to schedule that for sometime this year just to see how it goes. Not a month. I couldn't go away that long. But maybe I could manage a week. I've always wanted to do that but never thought seriously about it!

Missy Tippens said...

Wilani, it's interesting that your writing chunks depend on the type story you're doing. I hadn't thought about that. But it's true that the chapters of my short stories and novellas tend to be shorter. And I often end my chunks when I finish a chapter. At that point, I'm usually ready for a breather!

Of course, that always reminds me of advice that I've heard: to keep writing into the next chapter before you take a break. That way when you pick it back up, you already know what you had intended for the new chapter and can jump right back in. :)

Myra Johnson said...

Interesting ideas, Missy! I think I'm a big-chunk writer. Except broken down into smaller chunks--LOL! Typically I set aside the afternoons, noon-ish until 5 or 6 p.m., as prime writing time. But that gets broken up by VERY short bursts of checking email, Facebook, Seekerville, getting up to move around, etc., whenever the ideas stall out.

I agree about writing into the next chapter before stopping for a break or for the day. At the very least, I try to jot some quick notes about where I planned to go with the story.

Chill N said...

I'm not sure about marathon or sprinter. A few months ago, I would have said marathoner. Now I seem to be writing between life events and interruptions, so I guess I'm a chunky sprinter ;-)

Cool post, Missy. Thanks!

Nancy C

Missy Tippens said...

Myra, it sounds like you break down into smaller chunks when you need to. So maybe you really are a combination. Big chunks while it's flowing well but smaller chunks when it's not. Makes sense to me! :)

I have to say, though, that jumping online for just a quick check NEVER happens for me. I end up getting distracted every time. That's why I think I need to set aside times for checking the blog, etc. Lunchtime (hubby usually comes home to eat) and evenings would work be the best times for me to do that.

Missy Tippens said...

Nancy C, I like that term chunky sprinter! LOL

Missy Tippens said...

Okay, here's where I admit a problem I have. Whenever I open my laptop, I AUTOMATICALLY open Safari (my browser). Not Word. It's a terrible habit! I go straight to the Internet and not to my WIP.

Bad habit!! Need to slap my own hands! Does anyone else have this problem?

Sherida Stewart said...

Chunky writing....love that, Missy....and the thoughts of avoiding comparisons with others and writer's block may not be the problem.

Reflecting on my Speedbo experience, my chunk is two hours at 500 words per hour. Yep, a turtle! Finding time for my chunk remains a challenge since my schedule is not under my control. What I planned often dissolves into interruptions.....necessary, but still frustrating. I'm striving to make my chunk a priority, but still feel guilty when the daily to-do list is left unfinished. From Speedbo, I reaffirmed the importance of being in my story almost every day. I'm working to get there.

Thank you for the encouragement! Please enter my name.

Missy Tippens said...

Sherida, nice job on figuring out your chunk! I'm the same way with interruptions--very frustrating. And I agree about being in the story every day--even if only for a short period of time. It helps keep it fresh in our brains.

Kav said...

Not a sprinter not a marathoner. I'm a snippeter. LOL It's the only way I can write these days so that's what I do. It's definitely hard to get in the groove but since I can't stay sitting or standing for much longer than ten minutes at a time I had to get use to the snippet style. So my day is snatches of snippet writing/reading. :-)

Allie Pleiter said...

Can I tell you how exciting it is to see all this chunkiness happening???? Nothing gives me more energy than watching writers find affirmation for their own style--whatever it is--and discover ways to be more productive within that style. Coffee? Who needs coffee when there's all this chunkiness going on???

Sandy Smith said...

Missy, I will confess I am also like you in opening my browser first thing. I can waste a lot of time doing other things on the computer before writing. I really like what you said about not comparing ourselves. I have a hard time finding a scheduled time to write because I don't have a very regular schedule. My day job is substitute teaching and I never know for sure when I will be doing that. My evening/weekend job is working at the book store, which I do know my schedule at least a week in advance. If I do both jobs on the same day, I don't have any extra time for writing. I come home at 9:00 to eat supper and watch some mindless TV before reading and going to bed. However, I do have time during the day at some of my sub jobs. Especially when I am at the high school, I am often sitting there while the students work on their assignments. That is actually a great idea to brainstorm, jot down ideas, and outline, even if I might still be too distracted to actually write. But during the teacher's planning period, I can sit down with a notebook and write scenes by hand. That is how I got through Speedbo. I haven't done much since then. But today I am not subbing, so I plan to type in my hand written scenes into the computer.

Please enter me in the drawing. I would love to win Allie's book.

Missy Tippens said...

Kav, I love your term snippeter! I'm sorry you have problems with sitting, but at least you're learning to work around it. I have a feeling you'll eventually get to where that method feels natural to you. Keep at it! Those 10 minute increments add up!

Missy Tippens said...

Hi, Allie! I'm so glad you dropped by! I think maybe we all need those chocolate chunk cookies to go with our coffee this morning. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Sandy, I used to sub at the high school, and I would take a notepad or my computer to work during the planning period (It was block scheduling, so I had an hour and a half!). One class I subbed for a few times had the planning period backed up to lunch. So that was a nice long break during the day where I could focus on writing! I'm glad you're taking advantage of that too. And that Speedbo helped.

I hope today's writing goes well!

Rachel Meyers said...

I *love* this idea, that we write in chunks. I know I tend to need a break after around 2000 words (+/- 500 either side) and have spent so long trying to "train" myself to write longer, comparing myself to other writers who sit in their chair for hours at a time and churn out 10,000 words a day...but it's just not me. This gives me hope that I can work my own way and not feel bad about that. Will be adding the book to my wishlist :)

Melanie Dickerson said...

Oh my. I don't know what my style is. I'm so terrible at understanding or explaining how I write. I do know that I write differently when I'm on a really tight deadline. I force myself to write 2,000 words a day, no matter what. If the deadline is not so tight, I am much more leisurely. And I like to mull over what's happening in the story and what should happen next. If I haven't mulled it over, I tend to go off in a direction that I later regret. I'm also a seat of the pants writer. Natasha says I am the ultimate pantser. :-) I'm very NOT structured. I know what elements should be in a story, and I do usually make notes about the characters' GMC and greatest fear and things like that, but I can't write an outline. I consider myself a storyteller. Trying to follow a formula or pattern just messes me up, for whatever reason.

Sandy Smith said...

Missy, our high school is also block schedule, so it is a long period of time for each class.

Meghan Carver said...

Good morning, Missy! I would love to be entered for the ebook, and thank you!

I'm definitely a chunky writer, but not 6,000-words-chunky. I can do 2,000 or maybe 3,000, and after that, I'm drained for a while. I can do shorter spurts when I'm desperate or have a really good idea, but that's not my preferred method. I love these posts of find-your-own-method. They validate and encourage. We don't all have to be alike. Thanks for this boost on a Monday morning!

Jan Christiansen said...

I am a chunky writer in every sense of the word - and I'm okay with that. My chunks are just about 1000 words a day and usually early morning or late night. Guess that's why I enjoy writing short stories and devotional blog posts-I can get them done in one chunk, but I'm also working on a novel, so, trying to stretch my chunks a little.

CatMom said...

Thank you for this post, Missy (although I'm still drooling over that photo of cookies at the beginning of your post...YUM!!) :) Hmmm...might have to bake some chocolate chunk cookies TODAY *sigh*.....

Last year I took an ACFW online session that Allie presented about her Chunky Method and really enjoyed it. So when I registered for the ACFW Conference this August, I signed up for her workshop (can't wait!!).

Thank you for these reminders today about NOT comparing ourselves to other writers. So important! I have found I do best when I have a fairly long stretch of uninterrupted time to get "in the zone" and let the words flow. I cannot imagine writing in a carpool line, doctor's waiting room, etc. - - but I admire those writers who can be productive during those times.

Enjoy our Georgia sunshine today - - it's beautiful in my neighborhood right now (although that could change in 5 minutes, LOL).
Hugs, Patti Jo

P.S. Ironically, right before reading your post I was in the kitchen feeding my kitties, and just happened to reach for a can of Fancy Feast cat food labeled "Chunky" LOL!! ;) So had to smile when I read your post!

Jan Drexler said...

Interesting concept. I'll have to check out Allie's workshop at ACFW. Thanks for giving us a glimpse, Missy!

Thinking about my own writing style - I definitely have a limit to how much I can do in one day. 2000-2500 is the word count when my brain starts shutting down.

There are exceptions - I once had a 4500 word day. Just blew me away, and I've haven't been able to repeat it! (so far!)

But at the same time, I need to break that 2000-2500 word day into about three sessions of an hour each. My pace is about 750 words per hour, and then I've reached a temporary limit. I'll do some chores, or eat lunch, or walk the dogs, and when I come back to the computer I'm ready for another hour.

Some days, though, I hit a speed bump at the half hour mark. I get a lot more house cleaning done - and just as much writing. But the words come in short bursts on those days. :)

Barbara Fox said...

Hi, Missy. Thanks for the good post about writing styles. It sounds like I'm a lot like you (hey! who's comparing?). I like my good sized chunks and I get irritable when they're interrupted, especially by my wandering husband who happens to take a break from his work. He's starting to understand a certain 'look' now. :-)

How much I write depends on my motivation. If I'm wired with ideas, I can fly. If there is any sort of real deadline I can push through. Normal for me is 1500 to 2000 words but I've times where I hit a lick and go triple that. Everyone is on self feeding at that time. The house has to clean itself and my dog starts bringing her toys into my office wanting to play fetch.(If she wasn't a well-mannered Sheltie, my computer could be at risk) The hard times are when I just don't have an inkling of an idea.(I guess I get a little irritable then, too)

My best time is in the morning, very early but I won't give up my time with the Lord, so I just get up earlier. My absolute worst time is after dinner. I don't think I have 2 writing brain cells rubbing together then, so I usually read.

Okay – Not that I think you're irritable . . . we match just on the chunky part.

But I sure love reading the good posts on Seekerville. Please throw my name in the hat for the book.

Janet Dean said...

MISSY, thanks for this post! somehow Allie's Chunky Writer method escaped my notice. When I've had a good writing session, I feel drained, done. Perhaps I could revise then, but my creativity is zapped. So this fits me perfectly. I hadn't thought to plan my writing schedule with writing chunks in mind. Great idea!

Janet

Janet Dean said...

ALLIE, thanks for stopping by. Will look for your workshop at ACFW.

Janet

Janet Dean said...

Comparing ourselves to others is never good. We're all unique and special. Though there does seem to be a huge chunk of us with a taste for chocolate!

Janet

Missy Tippens said...

Rachel M, it sounds as if you've got your chunk figured out! Just keep plugging away at that rate and don't worry about other people's chunk. :) But you know, I think Allie's book has a section on training ourselves to write in bigger chunks. I'll have to check it out again.

Missy Tippens said...

Melanie, it sounds like you vary--and that it fits with your writing style. :)

Now that I think about it, my style varies depending on what stage of writing I'm in. I can write more words in a first draft. But I really slow down when I'm revising--even if I'm adding new words. That just takes more brain power and wears me out quicker.

Missy Tippens said...

Meghan, I'm glad the post was encouraging! I think most of us need reminders not to compare ourselves to others.

Missy Tippens said...

Jan, that's great that you've already figured out your ideal chunk! I think it's interesting, too, how long our chunks take. I'm slower than most, I think.

Jeanne T said...

Missy, great post. Your quotes about not comparing were probably the most encouraging part of your words today (I know, not the main topic ;) ). I've been struggling not to compare as I watch friends move forward on their writing journeys. I keep reminding myself that God's timing and steps for my journey are perfect for me. And I need to trust Him with that. :)

As for whether I'm a sprinter or a marathoner, I tend to sprint through the first draft. I love doing 1K/1HR and making that word count. I haven't figured out my "ideal chunk" for the revision and editing. I'm a marathoner for the rest of the process. I need to get that one figured out so I can work more effectively.

Missy Tippens said...

Patti Jo, I laughed about the chunky cat food! :)

The way you stated it as getting into the zone, that's exactly what my problem is with short writing periods. I need that longer time to get my head in the story. Of course, then I go so deeply that my family accuses me of ignoring them! I can remember times when my daughter was younger, and she would be calling me (and I wouldn't hear her because I was deep in my story world!), so she would come over, put her hands on my cheeks, and pull by face up until I looked at her. LOL So it may take me longer to get into the zone, but once I'm there, I'm so there that it might be scary!! lol

Missy Tippens said...

Jan, that does sound like you're a small chunk person and are able to get in several chunks a day. That does help for getting chores done during breaks! :)

Missy Tippens said...

LOL, Barara Fox! Actually, I get irritable too! :) And it sounds as if your dog has to do what my daughter does to get my attention. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Janet said: Though there does seem to be a huge chunk of us with a taste for chocolate!

Hahah! So true!

Missy Tippens said...

Jeanne said: " I keep reminding myself that God's timing and steps for my journey are perfect for me. And I need to trust Him with that. :)"

Amen to that! I learned that lesson when it took me 12 years to sell my first book, and afterward I realized the timing ended up being perfect. But I've had to learn the same lesson over and over. I guess this is just something I'll always battle.

Meghan M. Gorecki said...

Great post! :) SO needed to hear it--especially that reminder to *not* compare.
I'm more of a marathoner...but I also more write by the seat of my pants which dooooes slow my progress even more some days.

Missy Tippens said...

Meghan, I'm glad the post was encouraging to you today! It's good to meet a fellow marathoner. :)

Marianne Barkman said...

Missy, thank you for the encouragement. It makes a difference as to what I'm doing. Reading...marathon. Cleaning, chunks. Eating...marathon. Walking/excersizing. Chunks.

Sharee Stover said...

Missy, this was a great post. I will be attending the ACFW conference for the first time this year and I'm super excited! So happy to get to hear this teaching too. And who knew chunky could be a style :) yeah :) I am definitely a chunky writer. With three kids and three dogs, getting any solid writing time is an adventure.

Missy Tippens said...

Marianne, I love how you broke down your methods into activity types. :) :) I'm definitely with you on the marathon reading. But I'm kind of bad about being a marathon cleaner because I put it off until dust bunnies threaten to take over! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Sharee, I know you'll have a wonderful time at the ACFW conference!!

And hey, I like those numbers on the kid to dog ratio. Each kid gets to take care of one dog!! ;)

Missy Tippens said...

Okay, back to write for another chunk. :)

Dana R. Lynn said...

Thanks Missy!

I'm definitely a chunky writer. Yes, I can take my laptop with me to things, but I need to really plan. I can't just sit and write. I have to get myself in the mindset that this is my writing time. I find that I can only sit for an hour and a half most days before I need a break. My mind just stops focusing. I can do several chunks a day, but the days when I try to sit and write for hours on end don't usually end up being very productive.

I would definitely like to be entered into this drawing.

Helen Gray said...

Well, let's see. I'm the tortoise, but I produce SOMETHING daily. So I guess I'm a bulldoggish tortoise. :)

I still compare myself to other at times, but not nearly as much as in the past.

Would love to have that book.

Rhonda Starnes said...

I'm a procrastinator...oh wait, that wasn't an option, was it? ;)

In all seriousness, I'd have to say I'm usually as slow as a sloth, but when I'm faced with a tight deadline, I morph into a cheetah and get great word counts. During last years Blurb 2 Book contest, I probably wrote 40% of my story in the last three weeks of the contest. Of course this may also be why I received a revision request instead of 'the call.'

Thanks for the great post, Missy! I've signed up for Allie's workshop at ACFW, and I can't wait to learn all that she has to teach me. Please, enter me in the drawing.

Vince said...

Hi Missy:

I'm late getting by but then I'm late about most things these days.

Yes, I'm a chunky writer but that has more to do with calories per day than it does with words per day.

While I don't compare myself to other writers, I do contrast my work to other authors. If you don't benchmark, it's like flying thru a cloud without instruments. All you have to go by is the seat of your pants.

Speed, by the way, is the grand illusion!


Speed is never the problem, however, many writers see speed as the solution to other problems they may not want to think about. I think some writers look at speed like hoarders look at storage boxes: if they just had enough storage boxes their houses would not be so cluttered. Wrong. The need for speed or storage boxes is a consequence of problems and not a solution.

If you write just 500 words a day for five days a week for fifty weeks a year, you have 125,000 words -- which may be about two LI romances. Speed? It's not about speed.

I like the idea of chunks. It is a more appetizing word than 'attention span'. The USAF has ruled that a K9 dog's chunk is 20 minutues and that's as long as handlers are allow to train dogs at a time.

There are many types of chunks and not all of them equate to writing time. True, time is like chocolate chip chunks but there are many other types of chunks, like nuts, which can be done away from the computer: research, decisions, plot twists, ideas for settings, insights on how to add more rewards per page. You get the idea.

Know you chunks.
Clump your chunks.
Show some spunk!

Major rule: when you finish a writing chunk, leave your work area ready to start work the moment you sit down again. Always be ready to write. Leave a one or two word note telling you what you need to start working on immediately. No time allowed for getting ready. Getting ready in a non-chocolate chip chunk.

Vince

P.S. please place my chunk in the drawing for a book.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Great observations, Vince.

And good to see you again.

Missy Tippens said...

Dana, thanks for sharing your experience with us! It's so interesting to hear how we all approach our projects.

Missy Tippens said...

Helen, I love that! Bulldoggish tortoise. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Rhonda, deadlines are definitely big on the motivator list! :) And it's nice to find out what we can do under fire.

Missy Tippens said...

Vince, I love this quote: "Major rule: when you finish a writing chunk, leave your work area ready to start work the moment you sit down again. Always be ready to write. Leave a one or two word note telling you what you need to start working on immediately. No time allowed for getting ready. Getting ready in a non-chocolate chip chunk. "

And who wants a non-chocolate chip chunk??! Not me! :)

Glad to see you out and about, Vince. Hope you're feeling better.

Allie Pleiter said...

This is all such great stuff! I can't wait to meet many of you at the ACFW conference--or Write to Publish here in Illinois in June, where I'll also be teaching The Chunky Method. Now you all have joined what I fondly call "The Chunky Nation" :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Great article Missy. I really never thought of my writing in chunks but it makes so much sense. Lately, (like Vince, my chunks are getting shorter and later -like not happening.-. But if I planned for shorter chunks then maybe I would get them done and not be so discouraged because I didn't write the big chunk like I used to.

Wow you got me thinking. Hugs

Waving at Allie

Cate Nolan said...

Hi Missy, I'd love to be included in the drawing (even though I'm popping in so late in the day).

Sad to say, my attention chunk seems to be all of about 15 minutes. Gone are the days I used to be able to sit and blissfully write for hours. I just can't stay focused for that long. I did recently lose myself for hours in revisions, but that's rare.

So I guess I'm one of those write for 15 minutes on the subway or 2o minutes at lunch type of people. If I psychoanalyze myself - it's because those times are self-limiting so I don't have to feel guilty if I write for a short chunk of time.

And I absolutely understand the brain is sapped of all rational thought (much less any creative thought). Caffeine is about the only thing that helps then.

Missy Tippens said...

Allie, I love The Chunky Nation! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Sandra, give it a try! I think it could definitely help prevent discouragement! Allie said in her book that when she started using this method her chunk was 500 words (I believe I got that right).

Missy Tippens said...

Mary Cate (sorry, I still can't outright call you Cate! :)) I can only try to imagine what condition my brain would be in after teaching young children all day--coffee or not! I think you're doing a fabulous job.

Jessica Ferguson said...

Hi Missy, I enjoyed the post. I tend to write like you... an extended amount of time, uninterrupted. I can write for a good four hours. However, I can also write with a group of others at the library (that's how I wrote The Last Daughter) or in a Starbucks. But, if I'm at home and hubby starts fiddling around in the kitchen or using the dust buster... I wanna kiiilllll!

I just bought Alllie's book. Thanks!

Tanya Agler said...

Hi, Missy. Thanks so much for this post. When I first started writing, I thought people meant that writing every day meant they had to put new words down every day and didn't understand that editing and revising are very important jobs for writers. I'm a sprinter when it comes to a first draft but a marathoner overall because I revise, revise, revise. I love getting feedback about my characters so I know where to start that revision, what worked in the first draft, what didn't, and then I go to town. Next week, I'll be revising yet again, and by the end of this revision, I will be totally psyched to meet brand new characters. (I hope that didn't sound too bad!)

Overall my chunk revolves around the school day, and I use my timer to keep me on track for that time as I love taking little breaks to read about the craft of writing or once I finish that for the day, a Kindle break. My chunk of time depends on first draft or editing. First draft, it's 2000-3000 words a day, but for revising it depends on which draft. Second and third drafts are very slow for me, and fourth and final drafts are faster, but that may be the only advantage of still being not published is that I have that luxury of five (or six) drafts.

Please enter me in the drawing. Like an earlier commenter mentioned, I love craft books.

Thank you for the post.

Beth Erin said...

I tend to procrastinate then binge on projects, cleaning, shopping, you name it. All I want right now is a pan of chocolate chip cookies. Projects currently simmering in my brain are 4 reviews to write and a quilt to make for my little niece in the next 3 weeks (fortunately it is a simple pattern and my friend will long arm quilt it for me)!

Laura Conner Kestner said...

Thank you so much, MISSY! Great post! I like the idea of writing in chunks, and I especially appreciate you reminding us not to compare ourselves with other writers. So much to learn still. Thanks again!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Wow. This was great! I tend to want long stretches of time and don't even attempt to write unless I have those long stretches. Chunky writing times would be so helpful.

Missy Tippens said...

Jess, that's so funny! Those kitchen sounds drive me up the wall!! What is it that makes them seem magnified? LOL

Missy Tippens said...

Tanya, thanks so much for sharing your method! I think my revising is going so slowly because I'm revising a proposal (after getting it critiqued). I think I'm slowest at proposals, probably because I'm still learning the characters and figuring out the plot.

Missy Tippens said...

Beth Erin, I've been craving cookies all day! LOL That's photo go me too. :)

You're such a great aunt! I know that will be an amazing gift.

Missy Tippens said...

Laura, I'm glad you dropped by! And that you found the post helpful.

Missy Tippens said...

Sherrinda, it sounds as if you like to work in big chunks like I do (long stretches). The problem is finding those uninterrupted times. :)

Leslie McKee said...

I'm a perfectionist, too, and chunking really does help a bit with decreasing the feelings of being overwhelmed.

Leslie McKee said...

I'm a perfectionist, too, and chunking really does help a bit with decreasing the feelings of being overwhelmed.

Missy Tippens said...

Leslie, I'm glad to hear it helps. I need to try it more often in more areas of my life.

KK Absher said...

Love this, Missy! Thank you for describing my style to me. I do carry a notepad with me, but only for ideas or scenes that pop up and I know I will forget them if I don't write them down. I definitely write in chunks. If I do not win, I will add to my list to purchase.

Blessings,
Kimberly
T: @KKAbsherWrites

Laurie Wood said...

What an encouraging post! I often feel like my brain's fried and then worried about it. Now I realize it's just my normal body/brain sequence. Thanks for this and I'll definitely be looking for this book if I don't win it. :)

Janet Kerr said...

I would like to try this chunky method. Please enter me in the draw.
Jan