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Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Secret to Writing Sprees

OMG. FIRST TRAILER for Voyage of the Dawn Treader was released last night!!! It came out at 3 a.m. (EST) and I was going to stay up and watch it, but I only made it to one. Seeing it now, I almost wish I'd stayed up! It's EPIC. This movie is going to awesome.

Monday I wrote over 12,000 words in one day, breaking my previous record of 11,310 words. Thanks everyone for their support during that day and for the congratulations afterward! Today, I'm going to share the secret of how I did it.

Tips for Word-Filled Writing Sprees

It's a marathon, not a sprint. The first thing to remember is that a long day of writing is more of a marathon, less of a sprint. It's a time to settle in with your characters and let the words spill out on the page as they may. The words may not even be good and you definitely won't like all of them. But that's okay. The important thing is to not burn out in the first hour and call it a day. (Unless you're only planning to write for an hour and then that's okay.)

You don't have to go in alone. I definitely couldn't have done it without my writer friends support. If you're settling down to a write-a-thon, convince some writer friends to do it too! You can keep each other motivated, share in your shortcomings, and maybe bounce around some ideas if you get stuck.

Make time. I started writing around ten in the morning, just after I got up. I finally clocked out around midnight. I didn't write for those entire fourteen hours (dang internet temptations!), but I did write for a lot of that time. That breaks down to about 850 words an hour.

Stock up on snacks. Make sure your body stays hydrated and fed! Keep water and some of your favorite (preferably healthy) snack at your desk (or bed). I started drinking a Monster (energy drink) around eight. It was my reward for hitting 8k and also my motivation to continue. For some reason I write really well on energy drinks (particularly that one).

Find your time of day. I really kicked it into gear after dark and that's because I write best at night. I dragged through most of the day, but once night hit I was raring to go. Figure out the right time of day for you and arrange writing time for then.

Determination is key. It takes a lot of determination to clench your teeth and push onward when the muse goes on strike and writers' block hits, but sometimes you just have to do it. You might need to skip ahead to a later scene and write that. I wrote a lot of random scenes Monday. They all fit in the plot line, but they definitely weren't in order.

Reward yourself. Give yourself a reward for each 1k that you write. It can be something as small as a bowl of ice cream, a piece of chocolate, or a ten-minute internet break. Or it can be something as large as the entire next day off to do whatever you want, a nice piece of jewelry, or a fancy dinner the next night. My reward for hitting 12k was Tuesday off from most kinds of work. A piece of chocolate was my reward for 5k. I also got ten minute internet breaks for each 1k I managed to make. Rewards keep your mind fresh and give you a reason to keep coming back for more.

Give yourself a break! For especially long writing sprees, it's essential to take breaks once in awhile, even if it's just as a reward for hitting a certain point. They'll keep your mind fresh and make sure you don't get frustrated and burnt out.

Avoid interruptions. The day I set the previous record, I was home alone. I curled up on the couch with the laptop on a TV stand and just wrote all day. This time I kept to my room as much as I could in order to avoid inconvenient interruptions. Interruptions can also include those of the non-family variety, such as the internet. If you have to, shut it off for awhile until you take a break. It'll help keep your mind away from Twitter and YouTube and on writing.

Keep writers' block at bay. Last time I washed dishes to keep writers block away. For some strange reason, I get a lot of ideas while washing dishes. (Don't tell my mom, she'll try to use that as an excuse to get me to do the dishes all the time.) I think it's because I'm just standing there staring out the window with nothing else to do but let my mind wander. This time I couldn't really do that, so when writers' block set in, I had nothing to do but press onward or take a quick break and watch a couple of (semi) related Youtube videos.

Get in the zone. No, not Auto Zone. Find your favorite place to write and get comfortable. It might be your desk with soft music in the background. You might rather stretch out across your bed with a pillow propping you up, your feet under the covers, a summer breeze blowing in your window, and the laptop on your lap. Whatever makes you happy. Just find that place and get comfy.

Write or Die. In a pinch, heard over to Write or Die and pound out a couple quick hundred words until you get past writers' block. It will help to get the creativity flowing again and the words out on the page.

Now go out there and plan your own writing spree! It obviously doesn't have to be as ambitious as mine, I was feeling particularly crazy last week and decided I wanted to try to beat my previous word count record. You can pound out words for a couple hours or an entire day. Good luck!

5 comments:

in which a girl reads said...

.

Ooh, I want to do a writing spree sometime. I'll have to try it out :)

And wow, I just noticed that for some weird reason I haven't been getting updates from your blog for months on my dashboard, even though you've been posting. 0.o

AND YAY that trailer is sooo good!

(oh & this is choco btw)

Sage said...

This is such an impressive word count. I'm not a fast writer. When I write a lot of words in one day, it's because I take myself over to a cafe, put on some non-distracting music and my noise-reducing headphones, and set in for a long day of writing. People are like, "ooh, you say you're not fast, but you wrote that novel in less than a month," and I'll be like, "Yeah, because I spent every minute I wasn't at work or asleep writing."

My best day was 10K, I think. That was my goal on one day last NaNo.

I can't do Write or Die. When I do, every sentence starts with "Okay" (I'm not kidding) and the prose just isn't salvageable.

Caroline Tung Richmond said...

Holy cow, 12K words?! Wow, that is so awesome! Can I have your autograph? :o)

I definitely need to take your advice and try my own writing spree one of these days. I'm a notoriously S-L-O-W writer but I think your tips can definitely help me out!

Raven said...

I really really want to do a writing spree, so thanks for this post. I'm definitely bookmarking it. ^_^

Nomes said...

well this post is just incredibly awesome.

That trailer is Sooooooooooooooo good, makes december feel like a loooong way away. I have seen the BBC one one time too many I think :)

Congrats on that word count. You're on fire! I love all the tips. Very inspirational.

x