Friday, June 10, 2011

Day 10 - Guest Post by Emily May!

Today's Guest Post is by romance author Emily May, or perhaps romantic fantasy author Emily Gee. Whatever the name, Emily has seen some brilliant success, with her Regency novel "The Unmasking of a Lady" making the finals in several competions including the National Readers' Choice Awards and the RWA's Romance Book of the Year Awards 2011.

I'm a slow writer.  My happy word count per day is about 1000 words--usually written laboriously over many, many hours. But 1000 words a day is a little too slow when I have deadlines to meet!

Last year I started doing two things that helped me to increase my word count and achieve my writing goals a little more easily. Both are quite simple. They may work for you ... or they may not.

First, I wrote the following sentence on a piece of paper and put it on my keyboard each night, so that I saw it first thing in the morning.

"Take a few minutes at the beginning of each day to set goals."

Each morning I sat down and read that sentence and thought about my goal--"Today I am going to write 1500 words"--and set it firmly in my mind.

(I know, 500 extra words per day doesn't sound like a lot--but it adds up! A 90 000 word first draft takes 60 days, instead of 90--that's a whole month less!)

Second, because 1500 words is a daunting amount for me and can easily drag out over eight or more hours, I wrote down my goal in little chunks, like this, on a scrap of paper:

  1500 words

100 600 1100
200 700 1200
300 800 1300
400 900 1400
500 1000 1500
And then I started writing, not focussing on the end goal, but on the mini goals instead. 1500 words was impossibly far away, but 100 words was easy, and then 200, and 300. And with each mini goal I crossed off, I got a nice little boost. I could SEE that I was blasting through my mini goals, which made me feel more positive about my writing, and that in turn made the words come more easily. 
Incredibly, there were days when I reached 1500 words by lunchtime! (A miracle for me.) So then I'd write out more increments of 100 and keep working. Several times I passed 2000 before my brain shut down, and once I even passed 2500!

So there they are, my two little strategies for upping my word count. I hope they work for you too!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 9 - The Writing Habit

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit. - Aristotle

I try and write every day. Sometimes I only do 100 words, sometimes I do a couple of thousand. More often than I would like, I don't write anything at all. And sometimes, as an unpublished author, it's difficult for me sometimes to truly believe it when I tell people I am "a writer". 

After all, what is a writer without a published book?

That's where trying to write everyday comes in. Writers write. After all, lots of people have published books who I would not necessarily consider as writers. (Did you know Sharon Osbourne wrote a novel??) Publication is a goal, but it's not what defines us. 

We're writers, after all. What defines us is what we do repeatedly. We write. 

Get going people! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 8 - Questions and Cute Kitty Pictures

Coleridge was a drug addict. Poe was an alcoholic. Marlowe was killed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman's name out of a satire then wrote a piece so that she could still be recognized anyhow. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. Do you still want to a writer--and if so, why?

- Bennett Cerf

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Day 7 - Here's to the Editors

I always wondered why it took so long, reportedly, to write a book. After all, if you can type really fast, you should be able to finish a book every fortnight or so, right?


To those who are about to edit, we salute you! Just remember the words of Mark Twain:

Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day 6 - Counting Every Word

When writing a novel that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: "House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day." "Got call this morning to say I'd got Nobel Prize for literature. Wrote less than 300 words (285) probably unusable, so lousy day." - Neil Gaiman
Congratulations to everyone who has updated me on their progress over the last week! Between everyone who's reported so far, we have written 375,299 in the last 5 days!

Anyone who undertakes a grand enterprise of any description is in it for the long haul. And it's really bloody difficult to look at the crap you've produced on a Wednesday night at 10.30pm (after the kids have been acting like homocidal screeching monkeys and everyone in the world suddenly seems to discover your workplace existed on the same day creating an avalanche of paperwork) and not think "Oh God. Is that really what I write like?"

In his pep talk for NaNoWriMo in 2009, Neil Gaiman pretty much said it best:
The last novel I wrote (it was ANANSI BOYS, in case you were wondering) when I got three-quarters of the way through I called my agent. I told her how stupid I felt writing something no-one would ever want to read, how thin the characters were, how pointless the plot. I strongly suggested that I was ready to abandon this book and write something else instead, or perhaps I could abandon the book and take up a new life as a landscape gardener, bank-robber, short-order cook or marine biologist. And instead of sympathising or agreeing with me, or blasting me forward with a wave of enthusiasm---or even arguing with me---she simply said, suspiciously cheerfully, "Oh, you're at that part of the book, are you?"
I was shocked. "You mean I've done this before?"
"You don't remember?"
"Not really."
"Oh yes," she said. "You do this every time you write a novel. But so do all my other clients."
I didn't even get to feel unique in my despair.
So I put down the phone and drove down to the coffee house in which I was writing the book, filled my pen and carried on writing.
One word after another.
I have this pep talk stuck to my wall at home, and it always reminds me that it never gets easier. You just get better at dealing with it. If you want to read the whole thing, you can find it here.

Have a good week everyone! 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Day 5 - Check-In Day the First!

That's right, it's Sunday already and time for you to let me know how you're going!

I hope you've all had productive weekends - or at least, like me, semi productive. ^_^

At the moment I'm behind in my goal - my daily wordcounts just haven't been up to scratch. But that's okay, we've got a long way to go and I'm sure I'll catch up!

The sprints on Twitter (#50K30Days and #50Kin30Days) and on the RWA chat rooms have been doing really well. They are wonderful for fast wordcount boosts and meeting new people.

Diane put up a wonderful resource on the Google Group to keep an ongoing track of your writing statistics over the month - you can download it here. Check out the other great resources on the site while you're there - I think I've downloaded about 10 different tools now.

I look forward to hearing from you all! To report your word count to date, just send me an email or put it in the comments below.

P.S - There was a Day 4 in between 3 and 5?!? Drat.