Monday, September 12, 2016

Preparing for Productivity



by Guest Laurie Schnebly Campbell

Have you ever done a 50,000-words-in-a-month sprint? How did it work out for you?


I've never tried that myself, but friends who've done it report what sound like pretty typical pros & cons -- often in the same year.

            "It kept me productive long enough to finish the draft."
            "I didn't have enough time to build a cohesive story."
            "People understood and respected that I had to work."
            "All I accomplished was a bunch of disconnected scenes."

Sprinting can be a great way to sustain productivity. We all know it's hard to get pages finished when the kids are clamoring for snacks, when the boss is asking for an extra-hours project, when everything from the closet is now in the laundry basket.

 (canva.com free photos)

So it makes sense that people who attempt a 30-day book address such issues in advance by

            * stocking the house with groceries
            * clearing the calendar at work
            * taking the laptop to the laundry room
            * and so on.

(If you have any tips like those, I'm going to ask for them soon.)

Practical planning is important, absolutely. But without the second aspect of productivity, it won't do much good.

What happens next?

It's one thing to tell a 50,000-word story. It's another thing to tell the kind of story that people (who don't know us) will want to read.



(photo of my own bookshelves)


When you look at the total number of authors -- 473 so far -- who've sold or self-published a book they started during National Novel Writing Month, it averages out to just under 28 people a year.

Why so few?

Well, of course not every participant CARES about publishing. All they want is the satisfaction of completing their story, which is certainly something to feel good about.

But what about writers who'd like to see their book read by others?

That's where planning helps.

Veterans already know this. Even if they don't yet know where the story will be published, they have an idea (before they ever start writing) of what kind of story it'll be.

 (canva.com free photos)

            * Historical, contemporary, futuristic?
            * Inspirational, mystery, romance?
            * Thriller, fantasy, women's fiction?
            * Children's, YA, new adult?
            * A combination?

Beginning writers sometimes say "I don't know what kind of story this is; I'll let the publisher choose." And sometimes they get lucky, because they've written a story that'll fit perfectly into a specific marketing niche.

Other times, not so much.

What about the plot & characters?

Here, again, not everyone knows from the start who they'll be writing about or what'll happen with those people. "If I knew that," one friend explains, "I wouldn't have any reason to write the story."

So she goes through 15 or 20 drafts, watching her plot and characters take shape, and enjoying the process no matter how long it takes.

 (canva.com free photos)

She agrees the process isn't especially productive in terms of getting books to readers, but it satisfies her...and that's what matters.

For people who prefer getting books to readers, though, productivity comes in handy.

Do you know any writers who could use some productivity tools? If so, I've got a free class for them next month.

Why it's free:

Last week's sermon was on sharing your

            * treasures
            * time
            * talent

Mine is pretty much teaching fiction writers. So, knowing I'd be blogging at Seekerville, I realized this would be the perfect place to offer:



(canva.com free photos)


Mention "free class" to anyone who might benefit from Novel Writing Month Prep at WriterUniv.com next month. On Thursday I'll draw names from whoever emails me (Book Laurie [at] gmail.com) they're interested, and 15 of 'em will get a comp for the October 10-21 session.

I promise NOBODY will go onto any kind of email promo list, because that'd be counter to the whole spirit of giving!

And now, a question:

Remember back at the beginning when I asked what kind of tips you've found for improving your productivity? They can be practical or story-related or anything else that comes in handy...I'm looking for items I can quote to people in that October class.

Since everyone finds different things useful, the more choices they see the more likely they'll find something that resonates with them. Our goal here is LOTS of ideas, and repetition is fine because it shows something extra-useful.



(canva.com free photos)


So if you'd be willing to share any tips at all, please do. (Somebody who does will win free registration to "Blurbing Your Book" next June or "That Fatal Flaw" next September.)

And for everyone who comments, here's a big THANK YOU for helping other writers find ways of being more productive!


BIO: Laurie Schnebly Campbell loves being around writers, because nobody else GETS what it's like to spend time building relationships with characters and their stories. When a neighbor who'd written 50,000 words each November admitted she's never yet created a book anyone wants to publish, Laurie developed a "Novel-Writing Month Prep" class for writers who need a few basics -- and this opportunity to blog at Seekerville came along at exactly the right time for sharing it.





125 comments:

Missy Tippens said...

Laurie, welcome back! As for my productivity tip, I think about the only thing that works is to have a daily word count goal. If I don't have something to reach for, then I'm not as successful.

Missy Tippens said...

Looks like I'm the first commenter! So I've got the decaf coffee covered--with frothed Italian Sweet Cream creamer. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome back, Laurie.

This is a terrific autumn bun kicker post. We actually do Speedbo (Seekerville's book in a month challenge) every year here in March.

And wow I agree. When I do a big sprint like that I find that if I don't have a synopsis ready in detail I write a book of stuff that has to be untangled in April.

Tips on productivity. Besides B12? Schedule social media time and stick to that schedule. In and out and no one gets hurt. And turn it off on your phone when you are writing.

Trixi said...

I'm not a writer, so I'll just sit back and read the comments. I love learning more about authors :-)

I enjoy Seekerville whether it pertains to me or not!

Mary Connealy said...

I once sort of fumbled a due date and realized I had about 10k written of a 90k book with two months to go. AND I didn't want to write right up to the last date. I wanted the book finished so I could put it aside for a couple of weeks, before revisions.
So I set out to write 3000 words a day for a month.
And I did it. That was a little over so I finished ahead of time.

I have always thought it was one of the most cohesive books I've ever written. I didn't drop threads, forget subplots. It flowed very smoothly and was a CBA Bestseller.

I had another I wrote, this is a long time ago, doing sort of Shadow Nano, I didn't sign up but I did try and up my production for the month of November and wrote most of a 90k book in one month.

That was Cowboy Christmas and it won a Carol Award.

I don't write like that. I don't really think it's HEALTHY to sit for that long and focus on one thing that intensely for so many days. But I did find out I can do it.

And I liked the way the books came out. I was very happy with them.

Mary Connealy said...

Great post, Laurie. Thanks for being on Seekerville.

Sovereign said...

Great post, Laurie! I like to write daily but like right now, I have a lot on my plate. In order to be productive this is what I do. I'm a blended plotter and pantser. No detailed plotting, just bare bones--plot points or chapters and then write freestyle. If I have a plot point, I'd figure how it impacts my players and that means I'll write from the perspective of my players. So, when I sit down to write, I determine how much time I have and also whether I can write the full chapter or a scene. Having a goal in mind keeps me on track and sometimes help me deal with the days when I can't make time.

Jill Weatherholt said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Laurie. This is was such a great post! In answer to your first question, yes, I'm a big fan of 50k word sprints in one month. My first participation in NaNoWriMo resulted in a book contract. This was the first book I'd ever written. Of course, the story was re-written from it's initial hot mess, but the challenge forced me to get that initial draft written. As for a productivity tip, I stay off the internet. Having a full-time job, outside the home, I must guard my writing time. Thanks for being here today!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Laurie, welcome back!!!

This is a wonderful idea... I'm a steady writer, not a fast writer. I always do 1K/day. When I have more time with fewer outside responsibilities, I go for 2K/day in separate time frames, one morning, one mid-day.

That adds up to over 30K every month, and often more like 40K/month... so I'm not drawn to signing up for things.... and this doesn't include editing time, this is straight writing. Marketing and editing get their own niche of time.

I've often wondered if the speed months ended up with an influx of successful books, so your numbers are crazy interesting!

Like Mary, though, I've had to up the ante a few times: Revisions that need a quick turnaround and once we had the WRONG DATE for a deadline... OOPS. That mistake had originated nearly 18 months before so imagine my surprise when I discovered I had a book due not in two months, like it said on my calendar... but in three days.

They gave me a 30 day extension and I've never done that before or since... and I keep my writing calendar and schedule on my desktop now so I can "click" in and post reminders quickly.

But that was an eye opener, and let me just say, it was 80K+ in 33 days...

And the book came out great.

So that's kind of weird, isn't it?

But definitely out of my comfort zone. I love the 2K/day approach when school's back in session... Like now! Because I can delve into my projects five days a week and emerge smiling!!!

Jackie said...

Hi Laurie,

I enjoyed your post today. Two tips I'd like to share are getting up early before everybody else and prepping food on Sunday. Making a big pot of chili to get the week started of is nice. Of course my family knows I'm participating in NaNO, and some nights we eat sandwiches or cereal. I'm looking forward to hearing other tips.

Thanks!

Rose said...

Hi Laurie,

First, I really love your author picture. Very nice!

My advice before starting 50K in a month...know where you are going in the story. Yep, make a plan. It can be detailed or loose, but having a direction to go helps you get your daily word count and not stare at a blank screen.

Missy Tippens said...

Tina, that's a great point about social media. It can eat up our time before we know it.

Missy Tippens said...

Trixi, we're so glad you hang out here with us!

Missy Tippens said...

Mary, that's a really good case for writing quickly. It gives cohesiveness even if our bodies turn to mush from all that sitting. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Sovereign, that's a great idea to do some basic daily planning.

Connie Queen said...

I'm a fan of setting a timer.
Even writing 1k/day can be over-whelming for me if I try to do it in one sitting. I write fast for 15 minutes followed by a 5 min. break. Then I repeat until I've met my goal.
It's a mental thing. 15 minutes is very doable. I can check my email/fb/whatever every 15 minutes if I'm waiting to hear from someone. I clean fast during my 5 min break, and my house is just as clean as if I'm not writing--ok, probably cleaner.

Connie Queen said...

Mary and Ruthy, I can't even imagine writing 80-90k in a month. I feel queasy just thinking about it.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR MISSY:

How cool to see you've got wifi today -- it's a much nicer blog with you here hostessing, not to mention setting out the decaf and yummy creamer!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

FOR TINA:

Oh, I love the name Speedbo; that's fabulous. And now you've got me intrigued with the idea of B12; next time I hit Walgreen's I'm going to look for some...what's not to love about a vitamin that boosts productivity?

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Trixi, it's a nice tribute to Seekerville that you enjoy learning about the authors even without needing their advice. Even non-writers have ways of being more productive during extremely busy times, so if you'd like to share any of yours they'll be VERY welcome!

Laurie Schnebly said...

Mary, what a great way to discover your capabilities for writing fast in an emergency -- even though I agree, it doesn't sound healthy to stay on a single track as a regular way of life. Still, it's nice to see the awards confirming that sprinting can result in an even better book. :)

Laurie Schnebly said...

Sovereign, I like your idea of writing plot points from the perspective of your characters. "Writing freestyle" is a cool phrase; that sure evokes the wonderful sensation of just soaring out there and seeing what comes up!

Laurie Schnebly said...

Jill, how nice to meet one of the writers who DID sell their NaNo book -- you're a rare breed! And, boy, with a full-time job outside the home I can see how useful it must be to have a zip-straight-through approach to reaching The End.

Laurie Schnebly said...

Ruth, don't you love the resumption of school for a productivity boost? I'm bowled over at the idea of completing an 80,000-word book in 33 days...what a relief it turned out as well as it did!

Missy Tippens said...

Jill, I had forgotten that the book you sold was your NaNoWriMo book!! That's amazing. I'm so glad you took part. :)

Laurie Schnebly said...

Jackie, you've now got me dreaming of a big pot of chili -- I wish I could turn back the clock to yesterday and create one. Maybe THIS weekend... :)

Laurie Schnebly said...

Rose, I can't wait to tell the photographer what you said; thank you! It was an early-morning shoot and his assistant did a make-up job...when I went to work and everyone said "you look great" I realized I should've been doing that EVERY morning. (But, ulp, I'm still not.)

Laurie Schnebly said...

Connie, I like your 15/5 system -- that feels less scary because you're right, 15 minutes doesn't come across like a big time commitment. And if the house is even cleaner that way, there's a lovely bonus!

Wilani Wahl said...

Thank you for your timely post. I entered Nano last year and wrote 50,000 words in 17 days. It was like I couldn't keep the story inside any longer. It was insisting to be told. Since then I have been editing and polishing and receiving good feedback for contests. I also did the camps in April and July and finished each with over 90,000--most of which were editing and polishing as well as work on new drafts.

I plan to enter again this year. I have the name for my story, researched for a year and a half, have an idea of where the story is going so that on November 1, I will be ready to roll.

I will add that I am a member if the Western NC group. I have not met any of them in person. I noticed several were struggling with their stories. I think a good hint is to prepare the story before November 1, so you can actually sit down and write the story.

Lord willing and health permitting, I hope to also continue with my other works as long as I meet above and beyond the goals for each day, Kind of a reward to get the words written.

This book is my first attempt at writing a historical.

I am definitely interested in your class. I will be sending you an e-mail.

This year will be my third year. The first was a failure I got sick. But last year was a success.

Janet Dean said...

LAURIE, welcome back to Seekerville. Thanks for the thought provoking post! I'm a plotter. I have found that I need to know more than I thought I did. I can usually write the proposal without knowing the characters really well and where the story is going, but after that I'd better have a plan or I'm lost and wasting time.

I agree with all those who've said a daily word count is important. Time in the chair doesn't work for me as I tend to revise as I go.

Janet

Missy Tippens said...

Ruthy, I'm glad you're back on your school schedule! It's nice to be able to have that focus.

Missy Tippens said...

Jackie, those are two good tips! I sometimes do the getting up early trick while on vacation. That way I can get work done before anyone else gets up so they don't complain that I'm working. ;)

Missy Tippens said...

Rose, that's a great tip. I like to "plan" three chapters at a time. Or if I don't know where I'm going quite yet, then I at least plan one chapter.

Missy Tippens said...

Connie, that's great that the short sprints work for you! I remember when Allie Pleiter posted about short and long chunks, I realized I'm a long chunk person. I tried setting a timer to get up to take breaks (since sitting is so bad for us!), but I just couldn't work that way. I think my brain needs more time to get in gear. It's fun that we have so many different ways to write!

Missy Tippens said...

Wilani, that's amazing success at a book in a month!! And it sounds as if you're on track to do it again. Excellent!!

Wilani Wahl said...

I realize I have been rather silent the last couple of weeks. I learned the beginning of the month that there is a name for the vertigo problems I have had ever since an injury in 2008. They say the injury brought on Meniere's Disease. So now I am trying to regulate the dosage on the new meds I am to only take when the vertigo flares up. The only problem is the medicine knocks me out and I get lots of sleep. Of course this makes it difficult to write, edit or read.

I only take the medicine when the vertigo is strong. I would appreciate prayers while we work all this out.

Usually when the snow begins to fly I get some relief from all the vertigo.

Missy Tippens said...

Janet, I revise as I go, too. So that slows me down. I sometimes do try to just plow through and get the first draft down. And that can be really fun. But then I end up doing more editing. So for me, it can be a tradeoff. Still, it's nice to have that first draft done!

Missy Tippens said...

Laurie, actually we don't have wifi here! I'm using a personal hot spot. So I may have to back off a little on the data use since I just got the 75% warning on our family data plan! :)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Wilani, there are definitely prayers coming your way -- along with hopes the snow arrives soon! Wouldn't it be nice if we could trade lives for a few hours at a time? I'd happily take some of your extra sleep as a swap for some writing time...

Michael Mock said...

I've never done a sprint like that, but back when I was making a really sustained effort to finish a project I did have one little trick that helped. I was writing in the evenings after work, and what helped me was having a little pre-writing ritual. Basically, I'd eat dinner, I'd turn on the computer, but I wouldn't start writing yet. Instead, I'd read the last page or so, and then I'd go sit in the shower for a little while and just think about where I was in the story, where I was trying to get to, and where I needed to go next. It was basically just a way to get my head back in the story after a day of thinking about anything and everything else.

Cindy Regnier said...

Hi Laurie - what works for me is to turn off the internet - that way I'm not tempted to go check FB and end up hanging out there instead of writing. I've thought about trying the "Write or Die" software but I haven't gotten brave enough for that yet. I also find that Speedbo (March) works a whole lot better for me that NaNo (November). And winter (cold outside, cozy inside) is much more productive than summer heat. Maybe searching for whatever time frame fits best in one's own schedule is a good thing. Just find someone, or lots of someones, to be accountable to or join up with you.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Michael, I love the idea of sitting in the shower to get into the Story World again. Kind of like that advice to go pray in the closet...there's a lot to be said for getting away from the world at large.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Cindy, I remember when people used to rave about the AlphaSmart because it didn't have internet access...your way is a lot simpler than buying a new machine. And I love your idea of finding the right time frame, along with accountability partners!

Missy Tippens said...

Michael, I love that idea! I think I do something similar while driving. I can focus deeply on a story and really get my head back into the book. However, it may not be the safest way to drive! LOL

Missy Tippens said...

Great ideas, Cindy R! I've heard of writers who have a separate computer for Internet and writing. I think that could be a huge help for preventing distraction.

Josee Telfer said...

What a timely post this is Laurie. I definitely want to take your class.

I recently finished my first book so I'm not sure yet whether I'm a plotter or a pantser. I wrote this book in about 3 months while my three kids were home during summer vacation. I have a question: I keep reading that you should just write the first draft and then go back and revise after. What I've found is I revise as I go, and I feel like it gives me more clarity. I know writing isn't a one-size-fits-all but I'm keen to hear advice from the professionals (you all) so I don't waste precious time.

Now that everyone is back in school, I need to figure out a schedule and a system to keep me productive. I like Ruthie's idea of 2k words/day broken up into two segments with other time for editing, research, etc. I'm soaking this all up!

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome, Laurie Great advice about productivity, and so many follow-up tips in the comments--which I must go back and read more thoroughly!

My favorite productivity aid is Scrivener. It keeps everything story-related organized and in one place, and the word count tracker lets me set a word count goal and completion date for my project, Then it calculates how many words I need to write on average each day to meet my goal.

Marianne Barkman said...

I don't have any great tips for getting things done, though I do know when I had a job outside the home I got more things done because I tend to procrastinate. When I'm writing reviews I find it helps to write that review right after I've read it, starting a new book after is my reward. And if I don't write it before I go to bed my mind goes round and round thinking about how I will write it. Great to have you here, Laurie. I'm with Trixi, I enjoy reading...and being on Seekerville gives me new insight to my favorite authors!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Laurie And welcome back to Seekerville. What a wonderful and inspiring post. So needed as I'm starting a new novel so need to get all those ideas in order. smile

And what generous gifts you are offering this time. Wow. All those classes. Since I can't win, I might go sign up for one. smile

You are one of the most generous people I know. I can't thank you enough for all the times you have mentored me (and so many others)

Thanks again for being here. Have a fun day.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh yes, you wanted us to contribute tips for productivity. hmmmm let me see.

1. I have a daily word count goal. It is low. That way I won't ever fail at it and on those days when i go above it, I feel super good.

2. Leave off or stop for the day in the middle of a scene or with a cliff hanger so I'm ready to pick right up the next day.

3. Family trained to not interupt me when I"m writing. (Helps to do this while family is in bed-for me that is early morning)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Josee, congratulations on finishing your first book! That's a wonderful accomplishment, and completing it during the kids' summer vacation is all the more impressive. In terms of whether to revise as you go or after completing the first draft, there are as many recommendations as there are authors...but one thing everybody agrees on is that it matters to use a system that works for YOU.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Myra, I keep hearing raves about Scrivener (as well as the usual few detractions). But for all those who love it, it sure sounds like a FABULOUS tool...I'm hoping a nearby friend will get one, so I can watch how it works in person. :)

Michelle Gregory said...

a timely post for me (and for many others, it seems). i've nano-ed in the past and ended up with a book i self-pubbed, back in 2007. not nano-ing this year, but doing a 16 week sprint of 6000-7000 words per week to finish a sequel that i've been working on for WAY too long. my biggest tip for marathon writing -- don't sit in one spot for too long or you'll hurt yourself. set a timer. write in half hour increments. get up. walk around. do something else, then come back to it. your back and neck will thank you. (having a massage therapist helps too.)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Marianne, those are great tips on getting more done when you've got more to accomplish outside -- and on rewarding yourself with something tangible at the end of a project!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Laurie, have I ever mentioned what an absolute delight you are to have as a guest??? You are so attentive to authors/writers/readers... I just have this huge THANK YOU!!! feeling whenever I see your name on the schedule!

Thank you!!!!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Sandra, thanks for sharing the tips -- and, shoot, I didn't know Seekerville staff isn't allowed to win. But you've probably heard most of my advice over the years, anyway...I think we might be the oldest living veterans of Desert Rose. :)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Michelle, what a cool idea to have a massage therapist during a writing sprint! I'm wondering if maybe I couldn't talk dh Pete into filling in...that'd be even better than chocolate in terms of a reward.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Missy, I'm happy dancing over the back-to-school WONDERFULNESS!!! :)

I love me some babies, but I love quiet writing time, too!

I like to revise as I go, too.... Read the last day's work, and move on... Michael, we're doing similar things. As I go through my work day, I ponder what should happen next... how will the hero or heroine or secondary character react?

Always fun to get into their heads!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Aw, Ruth, thanks for making my day -- what a great thought to have in mind while driving to work and getting set up for the weekly kickoff meeting. But I'll keep checking in throughout the day, because it's such FUN getting to interact with other writers...aren't we the most fascinating people?!

Laurel Hawkes said...

My most effective 50,000-word in a month sprint was when I used it to finish a book and start a new one. I wasn't fretting over plot, as I was essentially filling in information and story and then doing a rough draft.

Mary Connealy said...

Like all advice it works for me but what works for me isn't some LAW. You've got to find out what works for YOU. There is no one way to write. No RIGHT way to write.

But for me...........basics

Slow and steady wins the race.

Before I was published I wrote 300 words a day. I often wrote MORE but I try to NEVER write less.

Once I was published I upped that to 1000 words a day. People say I write fast but I do NOT, I write steady. Everyday if I can.

I'm the tortoise not the hare. Slow and steady wins the race. That's my advice.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Laurel, that's a great way of using a 50,000-word month...since filling in and drafting are jobs that have to be completed at SOME point, it makes sense to complete 'em when you're in a get-lots-of-words-done mode.

Mary Connealy said...

I'll add here that the every-dayness of it works because it's not 1000 words that are hard to write.

It's OPENING THE BOOK DOCUMENT! It's sitting down and figuring out the FIRST SENTENCE.

Very often we stop writing the day before because we're not exactly sure what to write next, or we've come to the end of a scene or chapter.

So it's the first sentence that's hard to write. It's starting. It's Backside in Chair.

Start, everyday or five days a week, or whatever you decide, but start.

Missy Tippens said...

Josee, it really does depend on what you find works best for you. I'd suggest trying it both ways and figure out what you like best. I tend to re-read what I wrote the day before to get back into the story. And of course, I can't do that without making changes! LOL

Missy Tippens said...

Myra, I still haven't used Scrivener to its full potential. That's a goal of mine for the future. For now, I only use the cork board for planning scenes.

Missy Tippens said...

Marianne, I think having the outside job can definitely inspire more productivity. I think it forces us to manage our time better.

Missy Tippens said...

Sandra, you're so right about Laurie and her generosity!

Johnnie Alexander said...

Two of my NaNoWriMo novels are published but only after a lot of rewriting. My 2005 NaNo novel didn't get into bookstores until this past January--about ten years later! My debut novel, published in 2013, was my 2009 NaNo project. I haven't been able to participate the past few years, but the wish is always there.

Two tips: Don't be afraid to "tell/don't show" and use lots of dialogue. (It's amazing what you find out when characters are talking to each other.)

Missy Tippens said...

Michelle I love the idea of a massage therapist as needed! :)

Missy Tippens said...

Laurel, that sounds like you had a very successful book in a month!

Missy Tippens said...

Mary, that's such a good point. That first sentence is sometimes the hardest. Why are we always scared of it??? I think I'm usually afraid it has to be perfect.

Missy Tippens said...

Johnnie, I love that tip! We had Hallee Bridgeman do a guest post about writing fast. That's one of the things she does.

DebH said...

hi Laurie
I'm not good at sprinting. I accidentally did that when I entered the Killer Voice competition a couple year back. I had no plan, just a one page hook from an idea that popped into my head while reading the rules for the contest. I never expected to actually go farther than the one page or synopsis phase. The sprint to finish the MS in time for final delivery fried my brain. It probably didn't help that I also do graphics for my day job - double dipping my creative muse is probably what toasted my synapses. It has taken awhile to get back onto any sort of writing track, but I think I will be solid on the slow but steady type that Ruthy and Mary do.
Disconnecting the internet is a big helper and during the contest run, going to the library to write was quite helpful.

Thanks for visiting today. I like the post and the comments that have been generated. Extremely helpful. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Seekerville.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Johnnie, way to go on the ten-years-later novel -- that's a wonderful outcome; I hope you have that on your author page! And I love your idea of letting the characters chat; it IS amazing what kind of things they'll reveal without ever knowing what a great help they're being to us eavesdroppers.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Deb, what a terrific reason to visit the library...seems like it's a more inspirational place just because of all the books stretching in every direction. Although, shoot, I'm sorry about your toasted synapses; that does sound like your creative muse prefers no double-dipping!

Nicky Chapelway said...

Brainstorming a lot before even starting the story helps me get an idea of what is going to happen then I make a checklist for scenes in my story that must happen. While I'm typing and I begin to feel overwhelmed I will go to my checklist and check off everything I got done in that amount of time. It feels great to see all that I was able to accomplish in that amount of time you were typing, and I love seeing that to-do list grow shorter and shorter.

Well that's my tip for you. Thanks for the post!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Nikki, great idea for making a checklist of "must happen" scenes -- that sure narrows it down to the essentials. And isn't that a wonderful feeling, watching the list shrink and knowing there won't be items added for every item you check off?

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Laurie, so nice to have you with us today!!!

My tips have been mentioned, but they work so I'll share. Love my AlphaSmart! I start with three chapters written rather slowly to get everything set up in the beginning. Then I move rapidly through the rough draft with my Alpha. I can fill an Alpha file, which equates to 25 manuscript pages, on a good day. I also use a kitchen timer (waving to Michelle, who mentioned her timer). I pound out the story in 30 minute intervals, then break for water and a stretch. Sometimes I check FB, although that can get me in trouble and eat up far too much time. Then I set the timer again. An Alpha file (25 manuscript pages) takes me three hour to write in rough draft mode.

I wrote a book in a month, sans the first three chapters and synopsis which were in place when I started the 30-day push to completion.

I'm beginning a new story and eager to get the draft done. Just wish those first three chapters were easier to write. :)

Debby Giusti said...

DebH, love the new pic. What a good looking family!!! Beautiful you, handsome hubby and cute little guy...little Guppy! Precious!

Debby Giusti said...

Johnnie, love your mention of dialogue! I host a writing class at my church, and we'll be working on dialogue tonight! I'll tell them about your tip!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Debby, good for you on mentioning tips you've already discovered that WORK for you -- it's excellent to have suggestions offered by more than one writer, because that's proof "here's something that's worked for other authors too!"

Edwina Cowgill said...

Hi Laurie,

Really great post! My tips: I do set a timer and take a 5 minute break every hour. By pushing back from the computer and even leaving the office, I give myself and my brain a break. I announce to my hubby that I'm writing. If that doesn't stop the interruptions, I close the office door. And if that doesn't stop the interruptions, I hang out a sign: "I'm writing. Enter at your own risk." ;)

Edwina

DebH said...

thanks Debby
Found the picture on the camera. I guess I forgot to download. I liked it too, except I hope I've lost some weight since. *sigh*

Josee Telfer said...

I love to hear about the tools writers use, also.

I've looked into Scrivener - do any of you use it?

I have a MacBook and I downloaded Word but I prefer pages only because that's what I'm used to.

I also often contemplate what my characters will or would do and think up some dialogue throughout the day.

Missy Tippens said...

DebH, I've enjoyed going to the library to work sometimes, especially when I feel like my brain won't get in gear. The change of scenery helps somehow. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Nicky, I LOVE that idea! I'm a checklist type of person. I love accomplishing things and seeing them checked off.

Missy Tippens said...

Debby, I'm with you. The proposal is more difficult for me to write than doing the rest of the story.

Missy Tippens said...

Edwina, I love the idea of a sign. :) Although, with my husband, it probably wouldn't work. LOL

Missy Tippens said...

Josee, I use the cork board of Scrivener for planning scenes. Then I write in Word. I never could get used to Pages.

I also use my Note app on my phone while I'm out and about. I sometimes dictate story or scene ideas to Siri to put in a note for me. :)

Laurie Schnebly said...

Edwina, your "Enter at your own risk" sign is priceless -- pretty hard for any interruptors to say they had no idea you were busy! And of course if somebody wants to announce "the house is on fire," they can feel confident bursting right in. :)

Laurie Schnebly said...

Missy, I'm dying to know how you managed to find more wifi time!

Janet Ch said...

The biggest thing for me is planning the story out beforehand in a grid--character flaws and arcs, goals,conflicts, then plan the main turning points: inciting incident, midpoint, dark moment,and resolution... then write towards each turning point and keep going (without editing--that's the hardest part for me as I love to edit as I go along) until I reach the end.

Laurie Schnebly said...

Janet, you've got a very well-thought-out system there...and I can see how going without editing (at least during the short term) could sure make the entire process move faster for a writer who loves to edit all along the way.

Carol said...

I'm a slow writer who plods along one word at a time. One year during NaNoWriMo we met every Saturday and pounded out as many words as we could plus what we accomplished during the week. While I got more words written than I normally would, the story is still there because it's a bit of a mess frankly. That sort of sprinting doesn't work for me. The kind of sprinting that does work for me is short term...like say for an hour. Check in with a partner at the top of the hour, write and then check back in.

Plotting is my weakness so I've concentrated on that for the past year. I tried spreadsheets, charts, storyboards, etc. I was ready to face the fact that I suck at plotting when I decided to take a class at Writer Univ taught by Laura Baker and called Turning Points. Wow! It was like Laura spoke my language because I plotted my story using the characters emotions. I'm all about characters and their emotions so this was perfect.

I'm not sure how any of this helps but I think you need to keep trying until you find what works for you in terms of plotting.

Chill N said...

Isn't it cool to read all the different tips?

Thanks for starting the conversation with such an interesting post, Laurie!

Nancy C

Cara Lynn James said...

My only suggestion is stay away from e-mail and every kind of social media until you write x number of words. When you reached your goal (maybe an hourly goal) take a break. But don't let your break become as long as your writing session. Now I need to follow my own advice.

Laurie Schnebly said...

Carol, good for you on discovering what kind of sprinting AND what kind of plotting work best for you -- and "keep on trying until you find what works" is excellent advice!

Laurie Schnebly said...

Nancy, it's always a treat seeing how GREAT writers are about sharing what works for them...everybody in the class is going to come away with all kinds of resources that wouldn't have happened without today's Seekerville people. :)

Laurie Schnebly said...

Cara, I'm laughing at the idea of a break becoming as long as the writing session. Isn't that always the way, when we're faced with a chore we'd just as soon not tackle? (Yes, because that's what I did this weekend.)

Trixi said...

Hi Laurie, I guess you're right that no matter we all have ways of being productive in busy times. There's only two things I can think of for me. I'm a list maker, so I write down everything that I need or want to get done. Then I go through that list and prioritize. Some things fall off the list all together and some things get moved around according to urgency. And still other times things get added to the list. I find it works pretty good for me most times...as long as I don't forget something...lol!

I'm enjoying reading through the comments :-)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Josee, some of the gals use Scrivener....

I run and hide when anyone tries to teach me new programs.

The only thing I keep updating is my Microsoft Word... I loved Word 2013 and I love 2016 even more! :) So Word/Office get updated...

But other than that, I just write... and I love it!

We talk about "butt in chair"... I can't wait to get through other jobs, tasks, etc. to get back to my story.... so getting me to sit down and write is never a problem, and that's a real nice thing to say!

Patricia said...

I have never done one of those writing-a-book-in-30-days gigs. I just can't work under that type of pressure. I can actually write a book in a month because I've done it; but it's different when I know I HAVE to write versus it-accidentally-happened-in-a-month.
Everyone writes differently. I jam through to the end and don't edit, others edit along the way. I want writing to be fun and those quickie things sound crazy to me.
If I don't feel like writing, I don't write. I don't subscribe to "putting your butt in the chair and just do it", like a job. Writing should be a joyous experience, then again, I'm not fortunate enough to have a publisher hanging over me with a deadline!
Patti

Patti Garrett said...

Stay off the internet--especially social media.
Patti Garrett, who is getting off the internet and going back to writing . . . right now. :)

Missy Tippens said...

Well, I still have no wifi. I used all our data and have now almost used the extra gig! So I can't stay online much more tonight. My poor family will have no data left. :)

Laurie Schnebly said...

Oh, shoot, I just got out of a long meeting and now it's off to prayer group -- but I can't wait to come back afterwards and see what I've missed!

Boo Smelser said...

My tip is never stop writing, even when it looks dim in publishing land for your story. And never stop trying to publish it if that's your dream. At least that's what I keep telling myself. Just don't stop writing during that time!

Julie Lessman said...

WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, LAURIE, AND EXCELLENT post!!

You asked: "Have you ever done a 50,000-words-in-a-month sprint? How did it work out for you?"

Uh, does cutting 50,000 words in a month count, because I definitely did that in less than a month, as a matter of fact. ;)

I think I probably wrote 50,000 in a month on my second book, A Passion Redeemed -- a 146,500-word novel that I cranked out in a VERY short time. Not sure how many months, but not many -- working a part-time job. But it was a love story between two characters I absolutely adored, so you might say I was a wee bit obsessed, often writing till 5:00 AM in the morning. So much so that my family coined the phrase, "Mom's zombie state" as I got toward the end of the book.

That was the most productive I've ever been. Been downhill ever since, so I definitely needed this post today. :)

Hugs,
Julie

Unknown said...

Hi, Laurie,
Excellent topic--one that fits every aspect of my life. It's always about productivity and taking less time to achieve it. Sigh. What helps me the most:

1. Writing to an assignment. I will finish work others request before I'll finish my own ms (delaying tactic?) so I prep my next "to write" scene before I stop for the day. It helps to sit down and immediately know what I need to focus on the next morning.

2. X-ing off writing days on a calendar. Big bold X with the word count in the corner...once I have a string of those days, it's very motivating to keep going and not break the chain. (Credit goes to Jerry Seinfeld for this tip: http://jamesclear.com/stop-procrastinating-seinfeld-strategy)

3. Read "fun" writing (instead of word nonfiction). Reading always inspires me to write, especially when I'm reading something I love. It's wonderful to read others' words and fall into their characters' worlds.

4. When it's really a struggle to get going, I go to my most positive writing friend and show her a scrap of a scene that's killing me. She will always find something to praise (Bless HER!) out of any mess. I can write a lot of pages fueled by the enthusiasm of one little paragraph of praise ::grins::

Can't wait for your next class, Laurie. You are a productivity motivator!
Kathleen McRae

Tina Radcliffe said...

What a lot of terrific comments today!! So helpful. Thank you so much Laurie.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Trixi, thanks for the tips! Yours are every bit as good as those from the writers in terms of helping other writers...it's great to have as many ideas as possible when deciding what works best.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Patricia, good point about how having a publisher-seat deadline can make the difference between writing feeling like a job and feeling like a source of joy. There are advantages to both, but they're sure different ways of working!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Patti, way to go on getting off the internet and back to writing -- your tip will sure resonate with a lot of writers (myself included) who have a hard time doing that. :)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Boo, you're so right about never giving up on your dream. There might be other ways of achieving it, but anybody who decides "aw, forget it" will probably miss the creative thrill that started 'em writing in the first place.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Julie, you've got me laughing over CUTTING 50,000 words in a month...doesn't it seem like there ought to be certificates of achievement for people who manage to accomplish such a feat?

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Kathleen, what a great bunch of productivity tips -- it's always so cool seeing what works for other writers, and I especially like the friend who always finds something to praise. We all deserve to get that kind of reinforcement, and it never seems to happen quite often enough!

Laurie Schnebly said...

Janet, I'm so sorry I missed you earlier -- just going back to tally all the comments, I came across yours and felt awful for not responding. :( Especially because your style sounds so much like mine; I'm a plotter who's gotta have a plan. Isn't it amazing, though, seeing people who work a whole different way turning out equally good books? I still can't figure out how that's possible, but it sure is. :)

Laurie Schnebly said...

Wow, an amazing number and range of tips from 29 very generous writers -- thanks to Boo, Cara, Carol, Cindy, Connie, Deb, Debby, Edwina, Jackie, Janet, Jill, Johnnie, Josee, Kathleen, Laurel, Marianne, Mary, Michelle, Michael, Missy, Myra, Nancy, Nicky, Patricia, Patti, Rose, Ruth, Sandra, Sovereign, Tina, Trixi and Wilani for all the great ideas!

You all will make life easier -- and more productive -- for the writers in next month's class. And meanwhile, congratulations to random-dot-org's drawing pick #10 (that's Wilani Wahl) for winning free registration to my class next June or September, totally apart from the Productivity class beginning next month at WriterUniv-dot-com.

Thanks to all of you who made this such a lovely, hospitable day...it's always a treat visiting Seekerville!

Laurie, glad it's only 9pm here in Phoenix because I'd never manage to stay up until midnight :)

Marion said...

Hi Laurie, very good ideas for NaNoWriMo - I've attempted it twice and never finished it.

The first time, I was sooo unprepared, total disaster. I spent hours at the keyboard and gave up after only a week. I had no idea what I was going to write and that was my downfall.

The second time, I had a scene-by-scene outline. This time, I lacked the discipline to sit down every day. Once I fell behind, I tried to catch up and... well, that didn't work either. That was last year.

This year, I have a) an outline, b) practice in being more consistent and c) HUGE determination to finish a first draft.

I've learnt a lot - most importantly that for me, pantsing is not an option. I need to know what I'm going to write before I write it. Seems to work well so far :) And when I'm disciplined enough to start first thing in the morning, then I can hack out 1200 words per hour easily...

Walt Mussell said...

Scrolling through all of the tips a day late. The only one I have, and if 's mentioned above I missed it, is that I stop in middle of an idea. I've found that if I write to the end of what's in my head, then I have a bit of trouble picking up the next day. However, if I leave a scene incomplete, then my subconscious has time to think about what happens after a scene. So, when I start, I finish the scene I was working on previously, and then get started on a new one.

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Marion, good for you on using the two previous experiences to determine what you need and get it all lined up for this time. Seems like an effective way of proving "third time's the charm!"

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Walt, I like your explanation of why stopping in the middle of an idea works so well -- that makes sense as a way of keeping your subconscious busy (and useful!) between sessions at the keyboard.

Rita A. said...

Great post. I love NaNoWriMo even though I've never published a book through that effort. It is freeing by allowing the writer to just get the ideas down. I Always feel more productive after that experience. My main top is to find a writing buddy, or two. Meet with them on a regular basis to write together (with chocolate rewards) and for accountability.

Laurie Schnebly said...

Rita, ANYTHING involving chocolate gets my vote for a Must-Do. :) Although I remember at one point shifting my reward from one Hershey's Kiss per page, to one per paragraph, to one per sentence and realizing that was perhaps taking things a bit too far...

Stephanie said...

Well, I'm not sure anything is going to help my productivity right now. I'm in a slump, but I guess I'm lucky, because this is the first time I've had writer's block. I do love NaNoWriMo so I'll participate again and our local chapter has what we call NEW where everyone who signs up tries to write every day. I did publish my first book from my efforts in NaNo. It made me finish it.

Laurie Schnebly said...

Steph, I like your idea of local-chapter support for NaNo participants -- it's always nice to feel like you're part of a team cheering each other on. And congratulations on finishing that first book!