Thursday, January 20, 2011

18,000 words in 13 and a half hours

Camy here, and yes, you read that correctly. I recently wrote 18,000 words in 13.5 hours and I’m blogging today about what I think helped me to do it.

I was on deadline (but you guessed that already, right???) and trying to finish my novel so I’d have enough time to revise it before sending it in. At the time it was only 15,000 words I needed to write before Sunday so I’d have all day Sunday to do any last minute tweakings, but I ended up needing 18,000 words to finish all the scenes I’d had mapped out.

Let me preface all this by saying that I knew exactly what scenes I had left to do and what I needed to accomplish in each of those scenes. I knew the ending (I’d known the ending from the moment I started the book) and I just needed to write the climax as I envisioned it and tie up loose threads.

How to write a heck of a lot of words in a really short amount of time:

1) Pray really hard. I know some of you may not be Christian, but I am, and I did a lot of praying. That didn’t mean I spent an hour on my knees before I started writing, but before I wrote and while I was in the bathroom on a potty break and while I was eating lunch, I prayed to God and asked for His help. Relying on Jesus’ supernatural assistance is really the only way to go.

2) Make sure you’re comfortable. I had my chair adjusted so I could sit for long hours, but I also got up to walk around every hour.

I even had a timer go off every 60 minutes so that I’d remember to stand up and stretch (and go on a potty break). However, I also had a second timer set for only 10 minutes so I wouldn’t let my break take longer than that.

I turned the heat up so I wouldn’t have cold hands, I had a blanket on my legs, and I made sure my water bottle was close by.

3) Prepare the rest of your family. I had already told Captain Caffeine that I had 15,000 words to write that day and could he please get his meals on his own. He also walked the dog for me and washed dishes. I had leftovers in the fridge that were ready to heat up for both him and for me, so I wouldn’t have to waste time cooking my own meals.

If you have kids, arrange for babysitting by the spouse or someone else. If your kids are older, make sure the office door (or bedroom door) is locked and they cannot disturb you unless they are bleeding and burning.

4) Prepare yourself. This is not a cakewalk. Don’t lollygag around. Sit down and focus your mind and prepare yourself like you’re going to war.

5) Surround yourself with things that will help you to focus. I tend to write better when I have snacks, a mug of tea, and music without words playing. It will be different for you. Some people like scents, some don’t. Some people like music, some don’t. Surround yourself with what you need to focus.

6) Get rid of all distractions beforehand. I didn’t realize until only a few months ago how incredibly distracting it was for me to have so much clutter around me. I spent 3 days cleaning my office and discovered I have a much easier time writing now than I did before.

Clutter might not be the same type of distraction for you, but whatever your distraction is, get rid of it. Do not tolerate distractions because they will break your focus and reduce your creativity and your efficiency.

This is not to say you shouldn’t take breaks—by all means, take breaks if only to keep yourself from injury (see above about a timer set for every 60 minutes). But get rid of distractions that will take you mentally away from your goal of High Word Count.

Only you know what your distractions are, but be completely honest with yourself about what your distractions are. It doesn’t help your efficiency if you lie to yourself.

7) Get off the internet. This is what really helped me, but I’m not saying it’ll work for everyone. Anytime I had a research question I needed to look up on the internet, I made a note for myself in the manuscript to look up what I needed later, and I moved on. I labeled my notes with [xxx] so that I could do a Find for “xxx” and find all my notes to myself easily.

NO EXCEPTIONS. If I needed a name for a minor character, I named him Character A and used that for the entire scene. Later, I did a Find and Replace for “Character A” and changed it to whatever I determined his name should be.

Anytime I needed to look something up on the internet, no matter how small, I did not let myself do it, because even if I didn’t check email, the time taken for internet research could take as long as 30 minutes sometimes, and I wanted to focus on writing, not on research.

Research and writing use different sides of the brain (left and right, respectively) and for me to switch back into right brain creative writing mode is hard. So I did my best not to move out of that right brain creative writing mode, even for research.

In the end:

I wrote 18,163 words in thirteen hours, twenty minutes (give or take a few minutes). This included breaks. Quite frankly, this is the fastest I’ve ever written in my life.

If I can do it, you can too—you just need to prepare both your family and yourself for what you need to do.

GIVEAWAY: Thanks to Tina for this idea. I’m giving away a free 30-minute telephone mentoring session. To enter, answer this question: What would you need to do in order to prepare yourself for a writing marathon? Also please leave your email address or some way for me to contact you, otherwise I’ll pull another name.

Winner will be announced in the Weekend Edition.

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Out now is her romantic suspense, Formula for Danger. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she ponders frivolous things like knitting, running, dogs, and Asiana. Visit her website to sign up for her quarterly newsletter.


  1. 18,000 words?
    Camy, that's a novella.
    In a half a day.

    Whoa baby.

  2. Amazing. And I am the same way with clutter. If it's there, I'm distracted. Good tips.

  3. Camy - you are marathoning all over the place!!!

    Way to GO!

    I especially liked your use of the "FIND" feature. I've only recently become aware of how powerful a tool that is. You've just added ideas to how best to use it! Thank you.

    Yes - please enter me may at maythek9spy dot com

    I like what you said here too - music without words playing. This works best for me as well.

  4. Here's the coffee pot.

    I totally agree about the clutter. I've never been able to work with clutter around me. That's not to say my mind isn't cluttered!

    But that many words in that much time?? Ain't a gonna happen.


  5. There were some great ideas here for staying on track. Way to go!

  6. Mary--I know!!!! Isn't that amazing? I was channeling Cheryl.

    Terri--Clutter is SO my downfall when it comes to writing focus. The problem is that clutter accumulates so easily!

    KC--LOL that's a good analogy! I'm glad you liked the Find feature idea. it has saved my behind many times.

    Helen--I would have said that before I did it, but necessity breeds ... well, a lot of words.

    Tracy--thanks! I hope some of they help you out, too!

    Keli--thanks! And congrats on your contract, too!


  7. I'm stunned.

    Lifting the coffee mug in salute!

  8. To be honest, as a single mother with 3 kids (8-13) and in school fulltime, I don't think any amount of preparation could help me succeed in doing that type of word count in a day. Most days I'm lucky if I eke out half an hour for writing, though I do think about scenes in my head and write short outlines/notes throughout the day.

  9. With these posts from the last several days, you all have shown us how disciplined authors need to be. It's impressive. Congratulations on your amazing accomplishment, Camy!

  10. 18K--that's awesome. For me I would have to clear the calendar for a whole day.Make sure there's coffee and something snacky and water. My hubby is great about getting his own dinner and such. I would make sure I had the prayer thing going on, constantly.

    Thanks for the inspiration, Camy. I'll let you know if I attempt and what my results are.

  11. I'm amazed and impressed, Camy! Wow! Last year, I participated for the first time in NANOWRIMO. I broke the 50k word count into 1550 words per day and that was a struggle, with a full-time day job. With a lot of prayer and determination, I reached the required word count by Nov 29th. It was exhausting, but a great learning experience. I can't wrap my head around 18k in 13 1/2 hours! Like you, I work better without the clutter and with background music. I did find during NANOWRIMO, listening to the lyrics helped me to move the story along when I got stuck. How would I prepare myself? GENMAICHA baby! :)
    Please enter my name into the contest.

  12. Wow. Way to go!
    I think I would need a padded cell with a locked door and Mozart or Vivaldi playing in the background.

    Like you mentioned, I'd need to be all over it in prayer and I'd also need to know exactly where I was going and what needed writing. I couldn't SOTP then.

    And to help me focus: grape koolaid and cookies. Lots of them. =] =]


  13. Josi, sounds like you have a full plate!

    Thanks, Renee! I have to admit, I've gotten more disciplined as I've gotten book contracts, because then I'm legally obligated to get the manuscript done!

    Lindi--I forgot the coffee! LOL I actually consumed copious amounts of ginseng tea.

    Jill--For me, it's easier to have a huge chunk of time in a day or two rather than trying to get a word count done a little every day because it takes me so long to get into my writing zone and start pounding the words out. But other writers do much better doing a little every day. Everybody's different!

    Patty--Padded cell would definitely have been useful! LOL I know Cheryl Wyatt sometimes goes and gets a hotel room for a few days to pound out her manuscripts.


  14. Hi Camy, What an accomplishment. I love that you can do that.

    Remember Barbara Larriva who visited us? She checked into a hotel down the street and wrote a whole first draft in a weekend. Kind of the same idea.

    About clutter. I read once that extremely creative people have clutter in their office. So that gave me permission. Besides, I'd lose a whole month of writing if I stopped and cleaned it away. LOL

    The clutter doesn't bother me, but your discipline to stay off the Internet and look stuff up later is a great idea.

    Also it helps to have the story in your head. Then the writing is just secondary.

    I just picked some yummy sweet navels off my tree. There's a big bowl already peeled, sliced and tossed with coconut and walnuts.

    Have a great day.

  15. Camy, you're really amazing! I'm seeing a trend in some of the recent posts--families, i.e. spouses, have to cooperate. My husband is wonderful, but I have to insist deadlines are serious or he and the rest of the crew think I'm available for chatter. I have to train myself and I have to train them as well.

  16. Camy...

    WAY TO GO!!!

    Thanks for sharing your methods with us. I don't think I can add anything to your list that would make me more productive.

    I'll think about it today though. The internet is a huge distraction for me.

  17. Phew, Camy. What a marathon! Good for you. Just goes to show--we CAN do it if the pressure is on. 8-)

  18. Camygirl!!!
    This is SOOOO impressive! You never cease to amaze me at what you're able to do ; ) And though I can't do any of them myself, that certainly does not mean that I don't have the highest admiration for someone with so much talent!

    It's funny you said that you were channeling Cheryl to Mary because that's what it made me think of! That lady can write for sure, so I couldn't stop laughing when I read that hehe ; )

    Okay, have to go finish eating my bagel, wrapping up books, and drive back to school for class at 9:30, but I HAD to come and tell you WAY TO GO!! Keep it up, Camy. Great things are coming for you, I just know it :D

  19. My head is spinning at the thought of 18,000 words over a few days, much less 13 hours! Wow.

    You are my hero, Camy.

  20. Way to go, Camy! I hate clutter and right now my office is a clutterifed mess. I'd blame the kids but they only made half of it.

    Problem is I don't like wasting the time to clean.

    Still, I'm gonna have to take some time to do it. uggh....

  21. Camy,

    That is amazing!

    If I were going to have a writing marathon, I would need to clear the clutter off my desk and find a way to keep my family out. My office is in what should be the formal living room so it doesn't have doors. I guess I could hang a sign that says "Enter at your own risk!"


  22. WOW. I'm amazed, Camy. My record has been 5k words in about 12 hours, so this blows my mind. Boy, I'd love to watch and see how fast your fingers were flying! :)

    I'm wondering what kind of shape those words were in when you got done. I mean, were there just some typos and such? Did you take the time to do quotation marks and new paragraphs? :)

    Again, WOW!

  23. HOLY FLIPPIN' COW ... are you kidding me??? Apparently not, because here it is in black and white (and green ... the color I am right now!)

    You are AMAZING!!! And I am glad I never have to go up against you in a writing marathon, girl!!

    Now the question: how good do you feel about what you wrote?

    I tend to belabor a scene because I CANNOT seem to go forward until I feel good about the last one, which is NOT good, I realize. Once or twice I was SO stumped by what would make the scene better, that I followed Mary's instructions and just bookmarked it to finish later, which actually worked pretty well.

    Great post, Camster!


  24. Hey, Camy!!! Wow, I am really looking forward to the day when I have a deadline and I can tell my husband he has to fix the meals and babysit the kids! LOL! Seriously, I have a hard time motivating myself to stay off the internet and actually WRITE when I'm not on a deadline. However, I need to practice these tips of yours on a daily basis so I can feel productive. I like myself so much more when I'm writing and being productive!

    I write better, I discovered, when I listen to music. However, it can't be worship music that I love to sing along to. It has to be something like Andrea Bocelli singing in Italian. But I can't stand music when I'm revising. It's that left brain, right brain thing you mentioned.

    Congrats on finishing your manuscript!

  25. I'd definitely need BLANKIES, the kids OUT OF THE HOUSE, and no television on (hubby's an almost addicted watcher)! Chips or cookies or anything small and crunchy would be good for snacking.

    And definitely lots of prayers. LOTS of them.

    And enter me. POR FAVOR!
    joanne(at)joannesher(dot) com

  26. GO CAMY!!!!! Great tips!

    I've done Nano for 4 years now and won each year. One year I wrote 10K in a day but I don't remember much about it. This year an editor friend and I decided we were going to do a '10K Day'. I ended up with about 12,300.

    For the 10K, I went to Panera [anyone noticing how much I love that place? ;)]. They do have wifi so I was able to IM with my friend. I'm usually pretty good about staying off the Internet in a situation like that. Add some ear buds and Pandora and you're good to go.

    We did 15 minute 'races' since I've found that's long enough to get me in a groove but not so long I start to lose intensity. She said that was fine with her. Our goal was 3 per hour and took a short break in between when I went to the bathroom and refilled my drink [the ladies at the table next to me were there for 3 hours and never went once... think they probably thought I was odd...]

    I did the 10K while I was there. I think it probably took me about 8-9 hours [didn't get there until nearly noon and they close at 9] but I don't remember [and the first 30 minutes or so I was there was spent getting set up and stalking the good tables ;)]. Plus I got to have baked potato soup. In a bread bowl.

    After I got home, my sis/hubby were playing video games but I really wanted to reach 40K for the month and had another 1150 words to try to do that, so I did while they played. My friend didn't do quite as well [8K?] but she was sick at home with kids around and dozed off at least once.

    I also had a really good idea about where it was going and what I needed to do to get it there.

    And NO EDITING. Or not much anyway. I also do the GIRL1 or SMALLTOWN or TYPEOFGUN thing and research later.

    If I was going to do it at home, I don't know that I could. Even if I locked the door to my room and DH did everything else, it's too distracting. Getting my room CLEAN *might* help, but I dunno...

    I would *love* to spend a full day at Panera [like 8a-9p or whatever] and see how much I could accomplish. But since DH teaches on Saturdays that's unlikely to happen except on break/during the summer and until I have actual, real deadlines, it's unlikely DH will be supportive of it [the theory yes, the reality...] and then I'd have to be up in time to be there ;).

    I'd love to be entered!

    carol at carolmoncado dot com

  27. I have two words for you:



    WOWSER! 18K in one day???

    I'm reeling. The most I've ever written was 9K in one day and that left me like a rag doll with the stuffing drained out.

    You are amazing!

  28. Camy, What an amazing writing marathon!!

    Clutter distracts me and I actually cleared it off yesterday. Of course I put some of it on the cabinets behind me. Out of sight out of mind. :-)

    Off to hit the keyboard and see what God and I can do!! I'd be thrilled with 1/3rd that number. Thanks for the inspiration.


  29. ...18,000 words in 13! Thanks so much for the tips. I think that's often my mess that I'm researching as I go...and then I wonder why it takes me so long to get back into 'creative mode' that's a big help!
    I think for myself to do a writing marathon I'll need to de-clutter and make sure I can 'delegate' other things to my husband and 4 children to get things done. I'm feeling the pressure right now with my story:(
    I would love a 1/2 hour phone mentoring time with you Camy...what a big help that would be:) Please enter my name in the draw!


  30. Holy smokes!!! Would I be an idol worshipper if I bowed down to you right now?

    No seriously, that is amazing. Love your suggestions.

    If I were to attempt the same thing, I would have to lock myself in a quiet corner of my house, lock the doors, and ask my husband the take the kids to Grandma's for the weekend. Oh, and set up an IV that hooks directly to the coffee pot.

  31. Totally inspiring! Thanks for all the practical tips!

  32. Wow, Camy! Thanks for showing us what is possible when you're really determined!

    Great tips, especially the timer. I lose track of time and then suddenly wonder why my body is numb from the waist down and carpel tunnel starts setting in! LOL.

    Hope I never have to do that much writing in one sitting.


    Sue (who is trying to stay warm today. FREEZING OUT!)
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  33. Camy, After reading your post, I need a nap!

  34. Well, I'd definitely need a babysitter. LOL A blanket, a cup of water and some kind of chocolate to munch on. And no connection to the internet. That's what I'd need. :-)

    jessica_nelson7590 atyahoo dot com

  35. Camy, this is almost scary. :-)

    The things I would need.

    1) Coffee and Diet Mtn Dew
    2) Chocolate / sandwiches

    And this is most important,

    3) Assurance from my wife that, when she took the kids to the mall to get them out of my hair, she WOULD DEFINITELY BE COMING BACK.

    If I tried this when she was in town, I think she would believe I'd gone nuts. I'd also have to go someplace where I couldn't access the Internet (one of my favorite as well as least favorite things about my local Einstein's)


    Thirty minutes to talk with Camy about my story. I am definitley in.

  36. If you hadn't spent 3 days cleaning your office, you could have spent that writing and written six thousand words a day.

    Or...54,000 words maybe. :) And that's an LI.

    and I like that 'xxx' idea. i've heard that before.
    And also the Character A idea. Or maybe just pick a name. An odd name and go with it, knowing you might change it later.

  37. One thing I did that really helped me speed things up. If I've named a character something odd and maybe difficult, I'll type a code into the auto-correct feature of Word.
    So example: in Cowboy Christmas my villain was named Leveque. Claude Leveque.

    So, I wrote leq (that's LEQ, the Q looks like a G in this font) and then whenever I needed to type Claude's last name I'd just type leq and my trusty computer would correct it to Leveque.

    You could type anything in IYIYIY, whatever and have it spell correct itself. Just make sure and pick something not used in any other way or you'll be auto correcting all kinda weird stuff.

  38. Camy were you okay the next day? Were you burned out?
    Could you go right back to writing?
    Cheryl writes this fast a LOT doesn't she.

    LET ME SAY HERE that every author has her own system.

    If Julie needs to stay and get a scene right before she can go on and Cheryl needs to zip through that first mess draft, THEY ARE BOTH RIGHT.

    Do NOT let somoeone else tell you the CORRECT way to write. The most authors I talk to, the more ways I find. It's a creative process.

    I talked to a lady recently who has these SCENES in her head, the black moment, the explosive beginning, shoot outs, dramatic pivotal scenes. She HAS to write them first because the haunt her.

    So she does. She'll write a bunch of scenes, then she starts connecting them. I'd never heard of that before but she's very successful and that's just what works for her.

  39. I am impressed - I gleaned a lot from your posting. Two things that I know will help me right away -

    1) You were PREPARED! Did anyone else notice how much planning and thinking had gone into Camy's writing before she even started the marathon? That resonated with my "can't do anything without an outline" brain.

    2) Staying off the internet completely. I'll have to try that. I tend to get sidetracked with things like how long it would actually take to drive from point A to point B and suddenly I'm on Google Maps plotting out a route. I can envision using the xxx method and jotting down something on a sticky note to go back to during non-writing time.

    Thanks so much for sharing, Camy!

    (but don't enter me in the drawing - I wouldn't have time to take you up on it in the foreseeable future.)

  40. Hi Camy:

    Your post has been churning in my mind since last night!

    Here’s the elephant in the room:

    “Let me preface all this by saying that I knew exactly what scenes I had left to do and what I needed to accomplish in each of those scenes. I knew the ending (I’d known the ending from the moment I started the book) and I just needed to write the climax as I envisioned it and tie up loose threads.”

    If you want to finish a marathon, you have to know the course and more importantly you have to know where the finish line is.

    I think clutter is a ‘comfort food’ to pantsers. A great deal of clutter is full of surprises while order is not! Order also restricts one’s freedom to put anything anywhere they want to. Order is the enemy of creativity! Maybe, but it is not the enemy of success!

    When I first read your post last night, I thought no one could even type that fast. So I did the numbers allowing 50 minutes per hour to actually type 18,000 words. It turns out that you were only typing at the rate of 27 words a minute. That’s nothing! I can do 90 wpm easy with gusts up to 120 wpm.

    But then I thought of it this way. You had to write a word about every two seconds! For over thirteen hours! That does not allow too much time to think!

    So here’s the rub: how much time went into planning the setup for the marathon session? As always the question is: “What did you know and when did you know it?”

    If you added preparation time to the 13.5 hours, what was the ‘real time cost’ of producing those 18,000 words!

    A pantser might want to ‘seasonally adjust’ your numbers to better reflect a SOTP perspective.

    BTW: I want to read this book! Can you tell us the title?


    vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

  41. Wow, Camster! I just did the math, and that's an average of 1333 words an hour!

    I know it's possible because we did a one-hour writing challenge at our ACFW chapter meeting several months ago, and I easily wrote that much. You're right, a lot of it is not stopping to edit and not being able to do Internet research or check e-mail.

    But what I have never, ever, EVER been able to do is plan out an entire book ahead of time! Yes, I know basic character details and personalities. I know the setting. I know the inciting incident, and maybe a couple of turning points, and I know how I want the story to end up . . . eventually.

    But then, scene by painful scene, my characters have to live out their lives as I write, and only as one scene is fleshed out do I have ANY CLUE what will happen next!!!!

    And I was really proud of myself yesterday because in about 5-6 hours I pounded out 2100 words. Hoping for a repeat performance today.

  42. Wow Camy! Your mind must have been reeling after you finished. A pretty good feeling :)

  43. Camy, you are a writing queen! Testament to a little pre-planning and a whole lot of fortitude.

    I can't imagine this. Really. Even with a desginated, clutter-free, Internet-less, snack-filled, ergonomic environment.


  44. "I talked to a lady recently who has these SCENES in her head, the black moment, the explosive beginning, shoot outs, dramatic pivotal scenes. She HAS to write them first because the haunt her."

    @Mary: I wrote a novel like that once upon a time. It's the novel that got me an agent. My next novel was written linear, with much more plotting and planning beforehand.

    @Camy: The most I've ever written in a day is 3000 words. You rock!

  45. Awesome! This was so inspiring. Great to know that it can be done... by ONE person anyway!!

    Turn off internet.
    Coffee. Definitely.
    Quiet please!!!


  46. Hi Camy:

    I was so interested in numbers that I didn’t congratulate you on your amazing achievement! I checked my numbers on four NaNo books and my highest day was 7,000 words with an average of about 1,300 words a day. Your total was about 3X more than I ever did on my best day. I also had a plot and knew what scenes I needed to write.

    To be honest, though, I’m most envious of your marathon run.


  47. Sandra--I didn't know that about Barbara! That's awesome! The reason I can stay off the internet is that I use my Alphasmart--no internet capabilities!

    Cara--excellent point! After 6 books, my husband has finally gotten the idea that when I'm working, I can't talk to him period!

    Rose--The internet is my downfall, too! That's why I bought my Alphasmart Neo. It's about $170 new or you can get a used, older Alphasmart on eBay for about $50, which is what I did for my first Alphasmart.

    BK--totally! When there's more pressure on me, I tend to surprise myself with what I can do.

    Thanks so much Hannah! :)

    Audra, I'm sure you could do it too if you had to!

    Gina--I'm the same way, only half the clutter is my husband's or my dog's fault, the rest is mine! It took me 3 solid days but I finally got where I could see my office floor, so that's good enough for me!

    Edwina, it's always tougher for writers when they don't have an office door! Do you have a laptop? Can you write in your bedroom? Or maybe you can get a used Alphasmart on eBay for $50 and use that?

    Missy, my words were in TERRIBLE shape when I was done! But that's what revisions are for, right? I found that when I do my research and edit as I go, I average about 400 words an hour, but when I don't do my research and self-editing, that's when I went up to over 1000 words an hour. The research and self-editing really slows me down.

    Julie, what I discovered is that after I'm in that writing zone for at least an hour, then the stuff I write turns out REALLY good, because my creative right brain is firing on all cylinders without interference from my self-editing left brain, so I actually felt really good about the scenes. If I didn’t feel 100% great, I just did like you do and bookmark the scene to fix later, and usually that ended up being pretty easy later when I was in my full self-editing mode. But I was surprised at how good my writing was (not my punctuation or spelling, mind you) when I was in full right brain mode. But for me, that takes about an hour of writing for me to get there.

    Melanie—I love listening to Andrea Bocelli, too! He’s one of my favorite tenors when I’m writing. It helps when I’m writing a book set in Sonoma with all those vineyards! LOL

    Joanne, I had lots of blankies, too! I also defied my penny pinching husband and cranked up the house heater. :)


  48. Carol--Way to go! That’s so awesome! I love Panera, too! It’s great that you can go and write there. I have a hard time with all the people around me--I get distracted SO easily--but I know a lot of writers who thrive in that environment and can write even more. So if you stayed home to write, you might not be as productive!

    Erica--Isn't that two words? ;) And I did feel like a rag doll when I was done, but I was also DONE with the book so I also felt a little emotional high.

    Janet--I put most of my clutter in the closet, too! And in the spare bedroom. And in the living room. LOL But it’s out of my office, that’s what counts!

    Lorna, it took me SO long to figure out that it was the researching that was holding me up, but now that I realize it, I’ve been able to write a lot faster. I hope that helps you, too!

    Sarah, isn’t that what grandmas are for? To take the kids for writers on deadline? LOL


    Susan--ouch! Don’t wait for that to happen! We only have one body, so take care of it!

    Lyn--You can’t tell me you’ve never done desperate things while on deadline!

    Jessica--unfortunately, I know babysitters can get expensive, but if it’s only for a day, that’s not too bad, right?

    Walt--ROFL!!! That darn internet thing is why I use my Alphasmart. I have also resorted to unplugging our wireless router!

    Thanks, Cheryl!

    Mary, I did that too! When I wrote my next Zondervan book (the one coming out in Sept) I had a lot of names I didn’t want to bother to write so I set my auto correct to change ts to Tessa and cs to Charles, etc. It really helped improve my efficiency. I didn’t have that many names in this last book, so I didn’t do that, but I’ll definitely do that for my next one!

    Yes, I got a good night’s sleep the next day and I was fine. And you’re right, there’s no ONE way to do this writing stuff, it’s all about what works for you.

    Jan--I hope these tips help you, too! That xxx thing has saved me SO many times.

    Vince: “So here’s the rub: how much time went into planning the setup for the marathon session? As always the question is: “What did you know and when did you know it?””

    When I write a proposal for a book, I usually write a full synopsis that includes all the important stuff. I usually use Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake method to write a 15-20 page synopsis, which takes me anywhere from a week to 3 weeks. Then I send in the proposal, and if it’s accepted and contracted, I’ve already done most of the hard work of figuring out where the book is going. This doesn’t work well for SOTPers, I have to admit, but then again, Cheryl is a SOTPer and she blazes through a 60K book in 3 days. The reason I don’t have to think much when I’m typing is because I already know what needs to happen in the scene thanks to my synopsis. So that means 1-3 weeks prep, and then however much time to write the book. I wrote 18K but the book was 70K, and that 18K was in the last day after working on the book for about 6 weeks (I took time off for Thanksgiving and Christmas). The 6 weeks doesn’t count the 2 weeks to do the proposal. Does that answer your question?


  49. Myra--That's exactly how Cheryl writes, scene by scene, but she happens to write really fast and not stop. It’s mostly because she doesn’t often have a lot of time to write so she’s trying to get the book out of her in the time she does have. I have to admit, it’s easier for me to write a lot in only one or two hour increments, whereas the 13.5 hour marathon was tough physically and mentally, but since I was on deadline, I didn’t have a choice. :)

    Eva, yes mind was definitely reeling! But the book was done so I felt good!

    Patricia, you’d be surprised what you can do when you absolutely HAVE to!

    Lori, I’ve found that every book I write is written differently. I had one book where I wrote the ending first, and another book where I actually didn’t know the ending until I wrote it!

    Cheryl, I know you could do it if you had to!

    Thanks, Vince! I think the marathon run was definitely harder!


  50. Ruthy,

    would you be jealous if I say I love Vince too?

    "I think clutter is a ‘comfort food’ to pantsers. A great deal of clutter is full of surprises while order is not! Order also restricts one’s freedom to put anything anywhere they want to. Order is the enemy of creativity! Maybe, but it is not the enemy of success!"

  51. Okay, Camy. You are definetly my blog pick of the week. I'll be posting tomorrow. Did you develop this superpower when you were in some kind of weird accident? Kinda like the gang from No Ordinary Family? In the words of the wild and wonderful Julie Lessman: HOLY FLIPPIN' COW ... are you kidding me???

  52. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraJanuary 20, 2011 at 9:23 PM

    Congrats!! I don't know if I could ever do that.

  53. Jillian--LOL thanks! No superpower, just lots of prayer!



  54. Whew, Camy! Amazing!

    Good for you. Thanks for including info on the pre-work. So the book was written in 6 weeks plus 2 weeks on the proposal? How long do you need for revisions and getting it into final form?

    I know you've been cranking out the work recently for a number of publishers. Congrats on the contracts and success.

  55. Someone had mentioned in a previous post about labeling the POV character at the beginning of each scene.

    In the book I just completed, I started using that tip about half-way through the story and it helped so much.

    Next book, I'm also going to keep the date and time at the start of each scene.

    Cara, was that your suggestion?

    Anything that cuts down on having to search for past information in the story makes the writing go faster.

  56. I am in awe of your achievement. Quite inspiring. I think clutter may be my problem, too. I also need to get off the net and the phone and turn off the tv.

    Caroline from Canada

  57. Thanks, Debby! Yes, 2 weeks to write the proposal, then waiting to see if it was accepted, then 6 weeks to write the entire book (I would have started sooner but I was working on another book at the time). My revisions took about 8 hours on Sunday, plus a couple hours Monday morning (just me doing some anxious, insecure tweaking at that point) before I sent it to my editor.

    I like that POV idea! I think I'll use it!

    Caroline--yes, TV is really distracting for me, too! I can't even LISTEN to the TV in the other room or it pulls me out of my writing, so I have to close my office door tightly.


  58. Camy,

    I found this post fascinating. You have amazing focus and determination.

    I don't honestly think I could write at that speed, however the Internet is a big hang-up for me. I heard of a free software called "Freedom," I think, which disables your computer from the Internet for a specific amount of time.

    I could possibly come close if I
    1. worked with an outline (or a firm picture in my head) of exactly where I was going
    2. used my Alphasmart
    3.Wrote in a motel room and/or coffee shop
    4. Used the Freedom software to allow no Internet access
    5. ideally, I would have a coach and/or a hired editor waiting for the finished manuscript

    Through lots of practice in nonfiction, I am able to write with many distractions now. As a newbie fiction writer, I have to have total concentration for extended periods of time.

    Thank you for expanding my thinking and raising the bar.

    I'd love a mentoring session
    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo

  59. Cathy, with the Alphasmart you wouldn't need the Freedom software, you'd just need to get the cheapest Alphasmart, which doesn't have an internet connection. It's helped me a lot!

  60. Wow, Camy! This is so inspiring. This gives me some awesome ideas to finish my novel. Two days like yours, and I could have it done, and still make my self-imposed deadline!

    My biggest distraction is the internet. Also the clutter. Every other weekend, my son goes to his dad's house and husband works two days in a row, so I have a quiet house with few interruptions. I've got one of those this weekend. I think I'll try your techniques and see how I do!

    Please enter me in your drawing. wkinson at verizon dot net

    Jen Uhlarik

  61. Great accomplishment, Camy. I like your suggestion about staying off the internet while writing. Research does pull you into another frame of mind. Hmmm, scents. Hadn't thought of that one.

  62. Great post Camy. I like your ideas of getting rid of the clutter. It often distracts me. I'd have to have my family elsewhere so I could concentrate.

    I'm so impressed with the 18,000 words.

    Jodie Wolfe

  63. This is great,I have sat and tried to think of a name for a character and wasted much time. I am putting down your tips they are so great. include me in the drawing

  64. So glad for this post. I have an entire day to myself tomorrow (usually 3 kids all under the age 6 occupy my time)and want to meet a self-imposed deadline!

  65. I love braingasms like that.

    I have them quite often and though scary to the naked eye, its a natural heaven on earth only artists can really say they've been too.

    If we could make a pill for it, we'd be rich!!

  66. Jen, I hope you do well this weekend! Write lots!

    Thanks, Rita! I hope the scent idea works for you! When I was writing my spa book, I put on some spa-y scents to inspire me.

    Thanks, Jodie! Yes, sometimes having the family around is the hardest thing to overcome.

    Bev, I'm glad that tip resonated with you. It's saved me a lot of time!

    T.--I hope you get a lot done tomorrow!

    Sylvia, I'm with you on that pill!


  67. Good ideas for a writing marathon.

  68. Writing marathon...

    Since I'm the God ordained milk supply for my infant, I won't be able to leave the house. So I'd need the following:

    1)Three timers: one to remind me to express milk, one to track my writing time in hourly increments, one to time my breaks

    2) My b/pump

    3) Hubby would have to entertain baby all day

    4) I'd need to stay in the closet all day with ear plugs in my ears, adequate lighting, an outline of my story, and a laptop

    5) A couple of index cards where I've written the REASONS for my writing marathon so I can read them frequently for a kick in the rear


  69. Preslaysa, I like the index cards idea!

  70. Congratulations Camy!
    My question is: How much sleep did you require after your writing marathon?
    As for myself, to be able to do a marathon writing session first I need to clear off my desk, turn off the phone, then hang my "Please Do Not Disturb" sign on my front door. Yes, I do that often or I would never get anything accomplished. Some days it seems like I have a revolving door to my apartment.
    Please include me in the giveaway. Thank You,

  71. Claudette, I just got a full night's sleep, so 8-9 hours. I was tired but not exhausted. :) I like the sign on the front door idea, not that I get that many salespeople coming to our door, but it would be nice to not be bothered.


  72. This comment has been removed by the author.

  73. (Okay let's try this again.)

    I am amazed! That is awesome. Think how many books you could right for NaNoWriMo if you wrote at that pace.

    To get myself ready for a writing marathon:
    1. I would need to get my husband to watch the baby for the day.
    2. Turn off my ability to search the internet. Also remove all my research books from within arms length.
    3. Get a better chair; one that doesn't make my tailbone hurt if I sit too long.
    4. Get a cooler with all the food and water I would need so I'm not distracted by husband and child on my way to the kitchen.
    5. Turn off my internal editor so I wouldn't go back and rewrite what I've just written.

    Thanks for this post. You've inspired me:)

    kristengjohnson (at) gmail (dot) com

  74. I would love to be able to do this! Since I work a FT job, and my DH likes attention when I'm not at work (he's semi-retired so alone much of the day), I would have to go away by myself to a hotel (or a beach!) for a weekend to do this. Something I think about doing a lot. I'd need a hotel with no wireless internet, lots of diet Dr. Pepper and ice, and a bag of Oreos.
    Please enter me in your contest. A mentoring session with you would be great, Camy! Thanks for all the tips.
    Marie Wells Coutu