Write Faster, an Experiment
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Write Faster Project

Last week I explained the Write Faster project. And here's Holly Black's post about it which explains better and links to all the authors legitimately participating (I am just kind of tagging along.) 

Presumably those writers are writing for the rest of the day, but I have to leave the house in five minutes, so here's my report (filed at 12:15 pm).

I hope it's interesting to see a bit of what a writing week looks like for me, and that it's useful for other writers as they think about their work. 

I'll add links to the other reports at night, when I've gotten to read them.

Edited to add: Here is Holly's report!  Very, very interesting.



A good writing day for me: 1500 words
A very very good day: 2000 words
A lot of days: 500-1000 words

Aaron's essay says:
Track: okay, I am tracking! Results below. 
Enthusiasm: I have that. Well, except that I don't want to write my book.
Know: Know what you are writing before you write it. This I almost never do, except in the vaguest way -- so it is mainly this that is a behavior change for me.

June 7:

I have 45 minutes in the coffee shop. That's it.
Hung over from too much wine at BEA (Book Expo). Libba Bray is here (latest book: Beauty Queens). I read over the Rachel Aaron post and eat a cookie.

I write a sentence that says the word "windsock." Then I write a long conversation between two people about windsocks that has nothing to do with my plot. Then Libba says "windsock" sounds naughty, just as a word, and I get another half a page out of that idea.

650 words. Most about windsocks.
But I discovered some tension in the scene.  I augmented it -- so now something happens. This is absolutely typical of my writing process and not an example of me using Aaron's techniques in any way.

June 8:

Coffee shop. Arrive at 9. Chat with Libba for half an hour. Then spend 1 hour 15 minutes outlining next couple scenes I want to write. Why does it take so long? I have to reread big chunks of the MS, and tweak some things therein, to make the scenes I am writing come out right. This happens a lot when writing the last quarter of a book, I find -- I have to go back and seed things in, or tweak them -- but usually I do it in th emiddle of my writing, rather than as a preliminary to barelling through a scene at full speed.

Useful technique: Robin Wasserman (latest book: Book of Blood and Shadow) has showed up in the cafe. She and I agree to only WRITE, no internet, no chat, no breaks, for just 30 minutes.

Result: 727 words. I write, but am immediately IMMEDIATELY distracted from the outline I have made for my scene and spend about 500 of my 727 words writing something that starts the scene that I didn't plan but which nonetheless feels important.

End of the day: 2500 words, and I lay off at my usual time.

June 9,10 -- weekend.
I am a family person and don't write on weekends if it can be helped.

June 11, Monday.

I had a school visit in the morning and was zonked at 1pm when I got home. No writing.

June 12, Tuesday.

Arrived coffee shop 9:30 after exercise walk. Libba is here, working top speed and full of virtue. By 9:45 I am set up with coffee and food. I have outlines left from last Friday, so begin working on that material. I finish a scene and tempted to do various work-related things -- look at the origin of a family name I'm using, log my word count on googledocs, etc. But I DO NOT. I am going right into the next scene I've outlined.

End result: 2,100 words

June 13, Wed.

Bad night's sleep. This is a huge factor in my writing life. I feel like a zombie. I go over the first 9,000 words of my MS, editing and rewriting, sometimes rearranging. I take a nap and do another 2000.

Total word count: 300.
But I have hardly looked back at this book as I've been writing, and perhaps this is necessary to make sure my ending (which I have yet to write) is the right one.

Contexts that are crucial for me to write well:
1. caffeine
2. good night's sleep (usually not under my control as I live with OTHERS WHO INTERRUPT MY SLEEP.)

Contexts that are useful:

3. rewards (i.e. I can eat something nice, take a walk, call a friend, play Plants with Zombies, after I've achieved some kind of work goal)
4. no starchy foods (they make me sleepy)
5. race-writing with a friend, either in person or on the internet -- i.e. how many words can you write in 45 minutes? Robin nearly always wins, but trying to beat her helps me meet my goal.
6. periods of time devoted to work writing side-by-side with a friend (like: we will now write for one hour! No internet! No talking! Then you will tell me about your vacation) - -similar to the reward system, but more powerful.

June 14th, Thurs

Worked many hours but again, reading and figuring out structure and ending. Made cuts and added things, but total new word count is only: 50. However, I did figure out a couple scenes I need to write. Then in the afternoon, I talked through one of these scenes with the awesome Melissa Kantor (her new book: The Darlings in Love), and she was a big help.

June 15.
I have a short writing day today. I outline two scenes, which can be roughly labeled: Dragon and Cove.

Then I immediately go and write a long nonsense scene that I never planned about sunburns and doughnuts. Which I quite like.

Then I write dragon. 1500 words in two hours -- a bit faster than usual. In a short day I generally manage 1000-1200 words.

Conclusion: I think this method -- which partly just involves paying a bit more attention to what works for ME -- does help me write faster. Not radically -- but I'll certainly take it.