Holidailies 3: My trick to writing insane amounts a day…

03 Dec

… and still stay sane 😉

For everyone that doesn’t know what NaNoWriMo is: NaNoWriMo is the abbreviation of National Novel Writing Month in which you write a 50.000 word novel in the month of November. Which is insane and mind numbing and things like that. Or, at least, that is what I thought last year. This year was totally different and for one simple thing: timed writing.During the last week or so last year I learned about “wordwars” or “sprints” or whatever you want to call them. They usually require you and at least 1 other person and you set a timer and compete for the highest word count within the set time. I’ve been doing my own version of this.

Timed writing.

This year I completed NaNoWriMo in 11 days, yes, you read that right, I wrote 50.000 words in 11 days and didn’t spend the whole day writing. Usually it was two sessions, one from 10 to 1 and one from 3 to 5. Which meant I had quite a bit of time left to do other things (unlike last year).

One session means that for that time I write and relax with a timer. I usually set the timer for 10 minutes to write and then for 10 minutes to relax. By giving myself time to relax between writing I can check social media, do some quick research and things like that without totally getting lost and forgetting to write.

I wrote down the wordcounts for each run so I could see what I averaged and I’ve quite consistently been writing 300 words in 10 minute sessions. That is 900 words an hour because I can do 3 on/offs in one hour. 900 words per hour means that 4500/5000 words a day is only about 5/6 hours of work and you don’t even spend it all alone with just the screen. You can still check your social media and other things. Just as long as you keep writing in the set timer.

Only in the last 2 days I found that actually I do better with 20 minute runs, I can average about 700 words in 20 minutes, so that is 350 in 10, plus I can keep the 10 minute breaks in between and get up to 1400 words an hour. 30 minute runs actually makes no difference, I average 900 words in 30 minute sessions and need longer breaks between them.

So, the rules of timed writing:- keep track of your wordcounts so you can find your “sweet spot” time.

– while you are on the timer to write, keep writing, don’t worry about what you wrote, you can always correct it.

– take breaks, I usually take 10 minute breaks between 10 or 20 minute writing runs.

I don’t just use this for NaNoWriMo, I also use it in my other writing and even for university work. If I just start writing I get distracted, but by writing in runs I can be sure I get output because I HAVE to concentrate during a run.

Do you have tricks like this for writing?

Read on!



Posted by on December 3, 2012 in Holidailies, NaNoWriMo


14 responses to “Holidailies 3: My trick to writing insane amounts a day…

  1. renemullen

    December 4, 2012 at 12:38 am

    I have a critique group friend who has tested where his “sweet spot” was and continues to keep track of his hourly word counts. This is a fabulous idea that I keep meaning to give a try. Apparently I can find the ambition to write and edit. It’s doing the academic part that puts a monkey wrench in my gears. Great post!

    My tricks: Are ones you already know since you’re a fellow WriMo’arian.

    I write whether the muse is with me or not. 30 minute lunch break? That’s 15 minutes of writing. Waiting for the water to boil to make dinner, 10 minutes to write. My muse can either come along for the ride or sit on the sidelines. Those are his only two options. I drive.

    Also, I’ve found that I’m so overly self-conscious that my writing comes to a grinding halt if anyone else is in the room. (A function of my diagnosis to be sure) So, I know, when I write, I have to be alone. Once alone, I am able to take my self doubt and bash it over the head.

    • Kia Zi Shiru

      December 4, 2012 at 9:44 am

      Thank you for your reply 🙂
      I know what you mean with needing to be alone, I’m always very self-conscious about my writing, or actually more my typing. I don’t have the same problem when I write by hand and doing G+ hangouts with voice off but camera on also has no problems.

      I don’t actually push in writing into little moments but that is because I like to sit down and calm down for a bit before I start writing, that takes about 10 minutes before I’ve got everything ready to go.

      I use this same technique for academic writing but I then do 10 to 20 minute research for every 10 minutes writing. Just so I can’t go off and get lost in research or be tempted to do something I’m not supposed to do.

  2. Jim

    December 4, 2012 at 2:57 am

    I’ve never tried a timed method like that (oh the other hand, I quit a few days into my only attempt at NaNoWriMo). My usual method is more like if the words are flowing, keep on going… I have a period of enforced bed rest coming up starting next week (foot surgery) — maybe I should give timed writing a shot.

    • Crankyashley

      December 4, 2012 at 2:59 am

      That’s what they do at write ins. My SO can’t write that way. It drove him nuts.

      I write until my brain freezes then I spend 5 minutes looking at something else and go back to it.

      • Kia Zi Shiru

        December 4, 2012 at 9:48 am

        I wish I could do that, it would mean I’d have more output 😉 I tried that for years and even last NaNo and I haven’t reached the daily goal at last year’s NaNo apart from the very last few days (in which I got to know this technique). It gives me output and even decent output 😉

    • Kia Zi Shiru

      December 4, 2012 at 9:47 am

      The method doesn’t work for everyone. But for me my main struggle has always been that I was distracted too easily. Doing the timed method kept me focused.
      Thank you for your reply 🙂

  3. bmcox

    December 4, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    This is a really great idea. Thanks for sharing your process.

  4. Ryan Sullivan

    December 5, 2012 at 11:00 am

    This is almost exactly my method for writing stories in general. Although I can’t produce as much as you in that time, it does ensure that I produce.

    I know that I can fairly easily write 100 words for every 10 minutes. So that’s 200 words for 20 minutes, and 300 words for 30 minutes. I tend to write for either 20 or 30 minutes at a time (using Write or Die), and then I take a break of, yes, 10 minutes.

    Between sessions, I plan out the next 200 – 500 words in mid-to-fine detail before launching into the next session. Why? Waste of time? Not for me. I’m terrible at thinking on my feet, so if I get lost or run into a wall, I can check the plan and it’s mapped out for me, but I get to reword it to make it better, and build upon the basic idea that was in the plan.
    So, “Eoin is annoyed.” Might become, “Eoin got up and stomped away from the campfire, kicking a stick into the nearest tree.”

    And that’s how I write in a nutshell. 🙂

  5. robitille

    January 10, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I wrote a 90K novel in 20 days during 2012’s NaNoWriMo. My secret was breaking the book down into scenes (80-ish of them). I figured each for ‘around’ 1100 words, then proceeded to write each one. I averaged 5,500 words a day or thereabouts doing just that – write a scene, take a break, write a scene, take a break… And it was taking maybe 30 minutes to a scene, sometimes less if the “fire” was on. :c)

    • Kia Zi Shiru

      January 11, 2013 at 11:35 am

      I’m not that fast, I can’t write over 1000 words in just 30 minutes 😉 (I also need to think in between you know 😉 )
      This NaNo I quit writing as soon as I hit 50k (largely also because my story was finished at that point, but 90K is amazing 😀

  6. rinellegrey

    October 29, 2013 at 1:24 am

    Very useful tip. I love words wars against friends, but hadn’t stopped to think I could apply the same principles to writing against myself. Thanks!


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