1. Trung Mai
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    Trung Mai New Member

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    How To Increase Word Output?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Trung Mai, Sep 4, 2012.

    So I'm writing a novel. It's been something I've been doing on and off for a few years now. I only just recently began taking it seriously. I peaked at around 1200 words a day and now I float around 300-700. A friend of mine is doing a 30 day trial where he writes and exercises for the next 30 Days, always meeting a set quota. I recently read a blog where a woman managed to pull in 10k words a day. I've originally had a finish date of October 10 (my birthday) for my novel but I pushed it back to Christmas as I kept procrastinating. I am now convinced I can still pull off the October 10th. I am aiming for 100,000 words and I have 7000ish already done. How do you increase writing productivity? I am very intent on doing this and people trying to discourage me only makes me more determined.
     
  2. NaughtyNick
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    NaughtyNick Member

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    I just make time, normally 2 hours a night 4 nights a week and just write. Sometimes, if I am in the zone I write 3K a night. At other times I can barely construct a sentence. It's the nature of the beast. If you devote enough time to it, your story will unfold and your word count will increase. But don't get hung up on timelines and word counts. Your writing will suffer. Just let it happen.
     
  3. J. Blake
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    J. Blake Member

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    Don't worry about people who try to discourage you writing. Believe me, chances are they don't have the imagination or the will to do what a writer can, and I'm glad that you've taken to using this as energy to push you forward. Anybody who tries to stop you from doing what you'd like to do are people you probably don't want to hang around, anyway.

    There are plenty of ways to increase productivity, but none of them are easy.

    First, I'd make up a time schedule. Figure out the hours that work best for you. For instance, I usually wake up at 3 AM and write every day until maybe 5 o'clock, then go to classes. On weekends I wake up at 3 and write until about 8 or 9AM.

    Yes, that does sound like a long time. If you're going to really start pushing out stuff you've got to sit down, stitch your ass to the fibers of the chair, and really get down and dirty with it. There's some success you're just not going to get waking up at 8AM. What separates good from great is committment and hard work, and if you're up at (let's say) 3AM, you've already got a five hour head start.

    Also, be prepared to plow through a thick layer of crap before finally being good. Don't try to write it to be GOOD on the first draft -- that doesn't make sense and it'll make you feeling insecure and disappointed when, after all that tinkering and editing, you've only got 400 words done. Get MESSY with the first draft and (as crazy as it sounds) enjoy it! I used to have a sticky note right by my work area that said 'YOU HAVE MY PERMISSION TO BE AS BAD AS YOU WANT'. As silly as it may have looked, it really helped me get through my writing and tune out my inner-editor.

    Shut out your bad distractions. I'm really guilty for doing this, so maybe I shouldn't be the one dispensing this advice, but I try. If internet's your distraction, block your favorite sites when you write, or (take my route) and just go for writing on a legal pad. Even if your distractiosn are food or drink, keep your work area stocked with drinks and little snacks that can keep you at your desk. Un-plug that xbox. It'll be hard, it IS hard, but when you get accustomed to it, you'll be ahead of the curve.

    At the end of the day, there's no tricks. Put your nose to the grindstone (or keyboard, or legal pad, etc.) and get ready for a lot of hard work. Find comfort in knowing that one day it's all going to pay off and every ounce of what you're putting in is going to be coming back to you in due time.

    Good luck with your deadline, hope you get there.
     
  4. ...
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    ... Member

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    writers will have a best time for writing, when creative juices flow best. Mine happens to be from 9am till 3pm. I like to do a minimum of 2000 words per day. However, if i write for the full 6 hours (which is rare) then i can do 4000 words.

    I feel it is good practice to have a target. even if writing gets lazy this can be recovered in later drafts. The important thing for me is getting the basic story down as fast as i can. when it comes to second drafts, rather than minimum words, i like to edit a minimum of 10 pages a day. In many ways, I feel the 2nd draft is the hardest of all.

    I also like to listen to music while I write to block out any other distractions.
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    How you approach this depends a lot on your other life circumstances - age, family status, economic status, special considerations. I started writing seriously when I was in my early 40s, while in the midst of a hectic professional career, married and raising two children with special needs. This last involved a great deal of advocacy work (still does at times) and, combined with my job, put intense pressure on family relationships. Under such circumstances, writing became both extremely important to me and a potential threat to marital stability, and so simply setting up a program wasn't an option. As a result, I never judged my writing by word output, because I could go for months without there being any. Instead, I simply wrote when I could (usually late at night) and tried to make the most of the time I had. I wrote three novels that way (none of them published, but two got at least a little interest).

    Over the years, I've come to the conclusion that the most important thing is to make the most of whatever time you have for writing, maximizing the quality of your work, not necessarily the quantity.
     
  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Set aside a specific time each day for writing, make it a routine. My dad likes to see it like this: Writing is not a hobby, it is a job. As soon as you see it as work, as a real job, you put responsibility on yourself, you're telling yourself that this is not just for fun that could change and fluctuate with your whims and moods. If you have a job, I don't care if you're hungover and went to bed at 5am and I don't care if you hate what you do - you get your butt into the office and you DO YOUR JOB!

    Yes, writing a novel is the same. There will be days when you hate it, when you can't stand it, when you're not in the mood, but you get your file open and you get yourself writing, because this is a commitment and a project. And no, deadlines cannot be pushed back - you get a deadline at work, does your manager push it back for you just because you were slacking? Heck no, you get fired. So if you make a deadline, stick to it.

    Now because this is your personal project and not really employment, there is some flexibility - if you don't meet your deadline it's not the end of the world, but the point is, you give yourself something to aim for and you've tried your best to meet that. It's a matter of attitude, and trust me when I say this kinda attitude gets work done. Worked for me, and I don't love writing any less than I did when I first started. But unlike many writers and wannabe-writers, I can say I've finished. It takes discipline.
     
  7. Program
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    Program Member

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    Two possible answers:

    First, the more you practice, maybe the easier it will get. Your question could be like an Olympic runner asking, "How do I run faster?" The Olympic runner runs daily and your friend does these writing exercises [daily?] and if you practice daily, the words may start to flow better. But maybe this is not accurate. Perhaps the second one is better.

    Second, maybe you cannot brute force those words out. Maybe the Olympic runner analogy is not accurate. Maybe writing is more like "How do I get a river to flow faster?" You don't really make it flow faster. Right now, by telling yourself "I need to write more words a day" is like someone taking a bucket, filling it with water and dumping the water into the river as fast as s/he can and telling him/herself "must dump more water in!" Maybe it works, but if there's some sort of blockage down the river, you're stuck. The river will not flow much faster until you get rid of the blockage - no matter how many buckets of water you dump. Instead of dumping buckets of water into the river, perhaps you could inspect the quality of the river flow and search for a beaver dam. Perhaps you could spend some time and inspect the piece and take a few hours and think about the storyline. If you remove anything that's getting in your way and if you put a lot of thought to it, it's quality will definitely improve and perhaps with quality will come a greater interest in the story (you will not procrastinate if you are interested in it...) and then perhaps a greater word flow.

    However, I strongly advise you to not judge work by quantity, but rather judge it by quality. Anyone can make a sentence extremely extremely extremely extremely extremly super super super super super long, like I just did, but not everyone can write a high quality sentence. I mean I can write 10k words a day, but it would be awful writing. If you continue to look only at word count, you may find youself saying, "Hmm... I have about 60 days left. I need to write 93,000 words. So 93,000 divided by 60 - that's 1550 words a day. So I'll just write 1550 words a day and then go to bed."

    Writing, a creative art, is not based much off of quantity or mathematics. Writing has a lot to do with quality.

    ***

    Deadlines...
    If you set the deadline for yourself, I suggest you don't keep it. Again, writing is not mathematics or managing a company. It's more about the quality. This is not a plane flight with a scheduled departure time and arrival time. You can't actually predict everything that will happen during your writing process. I would advise taking it easy, putting a lot of thought into each word, sentence, paragraph, section, etc. so that instead of being able to claim "I wrote 100,000 words in a month," you can claim "I wrote a very elegant 10,000 words in a year and it took me 10 years to finish my 100,000 word novel, but the time and effort I put in was worth the elegance, the creativity and the insightfulness of my piece." The first impresses a general audience (your friend, Bob), while the second impresses those who are very serious about writing (critics, publishers, etc.)

    If you are still determined to take the trail you mentioned, go for it. I am just suggesting an longer, alternate path that I believe will be less rocky and steep and with less unexpected obstacles.
     
  8. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Basically, set a timeframe for yourself. Say that for a certain length of time, every day or every other day, I'm going to work on this. It doesn't matter if it's crap, it's something.

    If you wait around for the inspiration, it won't come. Didn't someone once say writing was 1% inspiration and 99% work? If you wait around for inspiration, you'll be waiting for a long, long time and wonder why you still have CHAPTER ONE, but nothing below that chapter.

    It goes for everything else be it term papers (I have to do a twenty-paged term paper this semester), a report for your job, anything. You have to make it a part of your life, whether you feel like it or not. Soon, you'll get more confident because you believe yourself when you say, "I'm going to do this." Treat it as an obligation for yourself. You promised yourself that you'd do it, so you'd better do it, or else you won't believe yourself anymore. It's bad enough if you broke the trust between someone else, imagine how it'd be if you broke the trust between you and yourself...since you had been lying to yourself?

    Like someone else said, if you stop treating it as a little hobby, your brain will switch gears and take it more seriously. Hobby tells the brain to just chill and don't worry about anything. Videogames are a hobby of mine. I will feel no regret if I stopped playing viideogames now and never, ever play another one again. But writing is a different matter. If you or I want to write, we need to quit treating it like a hobby, and more of an obligation we do, regardless of how we personally feel about it.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you can spew out thousands of unpublishable, really awful words per day, or turn out mere hundreds of words that are publish-worthy great writing...

    quantity doesn't count for anything in the writing world, unless you're churning out pb gluck on deadlines, for a 'book factory' like harlequin... otherwise, only quality matters...

    my best advice is to make those few hundred words the best writing you can turn out and to not set unrealistic deadlines for yourself... doing so only guarantees you will fail either in timing, or quality... or both...
     
  10. Trung Mai
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    Trung Mai New Member

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    Thank you all very much for your advice thus far ^^ I am still new to the forum but I keep coming back because you guys are so helpful. There is a lot of my daily routine I will change in preparation for my goal. I would like to clarify that I do intend on editing the work so that it isn't bad. All first drafts are bad so I see no reason for going all out :)
    I'm thinking for now I hammer out more of an outline (I already have a basic one). Then each morning I wake up and brainstorm, research, take notes, read etc so I have something to think about over the day. Then I start writing, taking breaks periodically and keep going until 10pm-ish. What do you guys think?
     
  11. DanesDarkLand
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    DanesDarkLand Senior Member

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    Do you know what worked the best for me? I started my novel more then 10 years ago, but with a lack of support, and my own inability to motivate myself, it stalled. Then in January, I sat down and started writing. I finished at over 130k words. There was no deadline. There was no word count minimum or maximum.

    What counted was telling myself that either its a dream, or a goal. As a dream, it would never be finished. As a goal, I started to plan. When I planned, I wrote. If you are tired on day 1, then sleep. If your not too tired, sit and write your story. Doesn't matter how much you write, just write.

    Once you complete the novel, then you can go back and revise. I did my best research when I knew what I needed to look for. You can only do that when you have written something to research. You may end up trashing the majority of what you write, but that's the fun of writing. My current project is so different from what it looked like originally, but that's the beauty of revision.

    In other words, try to set a little time each day for writing. If something comes up, don't beat yourself up about word counts, or lack of production. Just find the time. If you enjoy writing enough, it will become your hobby. If you're fortunate, your hobby will become your occupation.
     
  12. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not so long ago, I would have said the likelihood of laying down 93,000 words in one month would be impossible. Then, a couple of months ago, in a matter of two days, I pumped out more than 14,000 words to finish a first draft of a novel over which I had been laboring for more than two years.

    Based on gross calculations, if, starting today, you begin pounding away at your novel, you have 36 days in which to complete the 93,000 word count ahead of you, you have a target of almost 2,600 words a day. That is generally a pretty tall order for anyone.

    Now, bear in mind, the 14,000+ words I laid down was an extremely unusual event. Also, I had a solid background from which to work. I knew the story line and what I wanted to happen before I ever began. And I knew this would just be the start and it would need re-writes and primping and fine tuning before it reached the point of being ready for submissions. Furthermore, as mammamaia already suggested, the word count is pretty arbitrary. If you just want to push out a bunch of words, it's easy. If you want to further your story with quality words ... not so much. So then you need to ask yourself a couple of questions. 1) What do you expect to achieve with this 93k words you hope to produce? (Are you just trying to get the main story down to go back and hone it and pound it into something workable later or do you expect to get something close to marketable in this writing marathon?) And, 2) Is the drop dead line really all that critical or is it an arbitrary "feet to the fire" kind of date to focus on?
     
  13. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mammamaia, consider your <LIKE> button pushed!
     
  14. Zack Winchester
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    Zack Winchester Member

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    For me listening to audio wave white noise helps me keep from distrastcting miself. But man, the only secret to incresing your writing quota is just to do it. Keep going, keep writing till you meet your goal. There's no other way.
     
  15. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Besides what everyone already is saying, another thing to mention is move slower through the writing, ie more detail, more subplots, gives you more to write about and therefore increases word count... just a thought.
     
  16. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    My advice, don't. On a good day I can type three, four or even five thousand words. But the chances are that the next I will come and rewrite most of them.

    Write the story as best you can. Take the time to think about every word. And forget about distractions and deadlines. I'd rather read a hundred well written, considered words then a thousand poor ones.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  17. lixAxil
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    lixAxil Self-Proclaimed Senator of the RPG subforum. Contributor

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    My opinion

    Don't rush into writing several words per day, in the fire of rushing you could casually burn your own tale.
    What do I mean?, simple, via just worrying about writing a lot, you stop worrying about writing a quality tale, if you're not used to write a lot then slowly start trying a bit more everyday, but do not do great changes from one night to other, as you'll end destroying your narration

    The most important is what you write, not how much time does it take too
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Quality over quantity.
     
  19. Danvok
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    Danvok Senior Member

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    I find the best way is to read more and then you can write more. Obviously, this is a very time consuming process however and you can definetely get caught into the mood of: "I want to do anything but read and write right now." I know, I've been there. It's a lot of hard work to bring up your word count but no one ever said it would be easy.

    Also, if you bring up your word count you may find you're adding a lot of unnessecary words and bad prose to your material, which will need to be edited or taken out entirely later. This is always a risk. Increase your word count at your own peril. Don't let it affect the quality of your writing!
     
  20. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    There's no magic bullet for word counts anyway. It's all about how much you're comfortable writing in a day. While I might knock out 3-4k of good writing, that doesn't mean everyone else can, so I'd do the best you can, and let the count of words worry about themselves.
     
  21. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    thanks, tw!
    it doesn't and shouldn't matter to you what we think, trung mai... all that matters is what works best for you... period!

    love and hugs, maia
     
  22. Trung Mai
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    Trung Mai New Member

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    d'awe :) **hugs**
     
  23. Maxitoutwriter
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    Maxitoutwriter Member

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    Time is everything.
     
  24. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    meaning what, max? :confused:
     
  25. mclanier235
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    mclanier235 Member

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    Just write. If it's important to you, make the time. Write it out. Even if it does suck, keep pushing forward. You're going to do so much editing through the drafting process that whole pieces of the story might not make it to the final version. You might add whole chapters to the book before it's over. If you never finish it, you'll never get to that point. When it's done, you can read it, edit it, make changes. Until it's finished, it's all in your head. What good does it do you there?
     

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