Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Focused Writing

I can always tell when I have a tight deadline and a lot of work to do because I seem to post a lot of blogs, tweets, and facebook statuses when I'm stressed out. (I also seem to get a lot of cleaning and errands done during this time.) I've been working on my MFA thesis, which also happens to be my YA novel, because I have to finish the first draft by March 7th. I'm at about 40,000 words and would like it to be around 65,000 by the time I'm done. So, I have about 3 weeks to write 25,000 words. This actually wouldn't be an issue, but I'm a procrastinator and I've been struggling a bit with my process and getting words out.

For almost a week, I wrote only 600 words. In my defense, I was doing other things as well, like working with my thesis mentor to finalize my schedule and reading list, reading a book from my reading list, and playing video games with my Husband. So, this week started and I panicked. Only 3 weeks left and I was writing too little. With the thrill and cram-sessions of NaNoWriMo gone, and no useful way to continue word sprints, I decided to try a few new things.

The first thing I did was start chapter nine by hand. The entire chapter was written by hand in the end and it's going to be about 4,000-4,500 words long. doing this gave me the opportunity to keep myself away from distractions on the computer and was a nice change of pace for once. The second thing I did, was to set my own word sprints. I'd set Apimac Timer (a freeware timer for macs) for 10 minutes at a time. In those 10 minutes, I would write without interruption, then stop and take a break for 5-10 minutes TOPS. Sometimes, I'd be on a roll and not want to stop, so I'd continue passed the 10 minutes or reset the timer. But if I was in a distracted mood, I'd stop working for five minutes to allow myself a break and to keep my focus.

Surprisingly, this method works wonders for me. I wrote about 1,300 words in two hours, and half of that time was spent actually writing. The day before, I spent 5 hours trying to write and had only written 500 words. My brain starts to see Timer Time as "Getting Down To Business" Time and I focus.

For chapter 10, which I'm starting tonight after husband goes to work for a 4 hour shift, I will try to type it up using my timer method. I'd like to hit 2,500 word tonight (about half the chapter), but I know I type slower than I hand write, so I'm not sure how it will compare. I want to see if I can still maintain the same level of focus whether I'm hand writing or typing.

Well, that's all I have to say on the subject for now.
-N.R. Wick

[READER RESPONSE] What method do you use to get the max amount of writing done in the amount of time you are given to work? Do you have any useful tips to share?

Note: This entry has been cross-posted to my personal Live Journal blog.

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