Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finding Your Process

I ran across a blog post the other day that made me pause. This published writer has refined her process so that she normally writes 10,000 words a day. Yes, 10,000.

On my best day, I've never written that much. But I was intrigured by the concept, so I read how she did it. Here's her post.

Basically, she discovered that she needed three things to be able to go from writing 2,000 words a day to 10k. Here they are:

1) Knowledge: know what you're writing before you write it.
2) Time: track productivity and evaluate. Find the time that works best for you.
3) Enthusiasm: get excited about what you're writing

After I read it, I thought maybe I should give it a shot. After all, who doesn't want to write more, quality words? Her theory made sense to me. If you are excited about what you write, know what is going to come next (no staring at the blank page wondering) and have blocked out the time to do it, why wouldn't it work?

So this weekend, I blocked out some time, took a few notes on the next scene I was going to write, and got to work.

Here's what I discovered.

This may be a method that will work for you, and if it does, that is wonderful. Heck, I wish it worked for me. But it doesn't.

Why? Because I like the thrill of discovery while I'm writing. I don't like to block everything out that I write beforehand because it takes that discovery process away from me. I've had some of my best ideas while in the midst of writing that just pop up. They weren't planned. The writing process revealed them.

That probably means I will never get up to 10,000 words a day and that's just fine. I am in awe of those who can. But that is their process and it works for them.

My process is slower. This doesn't mean it is better. It is just the way I write.

Like our writing itself, the writing process is subjective and unique to each individual. Bottom line: we have to do what works for us.

I would have been this little girl!
What do you think? Would this author's process work for you? Give it a try! You never know!


  1. I wrote 60,000 words in 12 days. A few of those days out of the 12 I didn't write, so I was probably close (though 10,000 words is A LOT). I'm a total panster so I have no idea what's going to happen to my characters when I sit down. But I had that enthusiasm you mentioned. I couldn't think about anything else so I wrote.

    And...I had a lot of time :) aka I didn't sleep :)

  2. I find I really write productively when I know what has to be written. Not the actual details, but knowing where a chapter has to go, and having a rough outline of how to get there. Without that kind of guidance, I do get bogged down in considering it and my writing slows.

  3. I tend to write large cast plays and need to outline the story so that I can see (on one page) the treatment of each character to make sure that the characters are receiving the stage time I had envisioned.

  4. Kelley - WOW. That word count is impressive! Well done!

    Joanne - I always have a general idea of the scene and where it's going to go (as well as the overall novel) but from what I can tell, this writer really blocked out her scenes, from what she wanted to use for dialogue to character growth.

    More Than - That makes sense. I think outlining would be necessary for something like that.

  5. I am such a slow writer. On my best day ever I think I logged around 3,000. 1200 is usually a good day.

    Knowing where the scene is going is key, but I can't know that 10,000 words ahead. I need room to discover.

    I've come to peace with writing slowly. It's who I am. And I've known a number of outstanding writers I admire, who write sublimely, who take time, too. We are our own people. As long as I still love it, I'm okay with it. :)

  6. My approach is quite similar to those three steps, but I am a slower writer too. I don't write very organized outlines - it's usually pages of scribbled notes all out of order which I work in as I need them. But I like to have at least an idea of where I'm going with something, because if I don't I tend to get stuck in the middle. The thing I really want to work on in the coming year is scheduling my writing time better (i.e. getting up and getting to work earlier). :)

  7. Melissa-I like that thrill of discovery when I write too:) When I did NaNoWriMo, even the 1600 words a day about did me in at times!

  8. I think this method may work better for non-fiction than creative fiction.

  9. Heidi - I think that's my high, too, around 3k. And I agree with you that knowing where the scene is going is key - but I'm just like you in the need to discover. Otherwise, all the joy is taken out of it for me.

    Elisabeth - I need to schedule my writing time better, too. Lately it's been whenever I feel up to it (health problems have intruded too much on my writing time), but hopefully those problems are on the mend and I'll start to have more energy soon. Then if I can write even a page a night, that would be awesome.

    Valerie - There are days that 200 words about does me in! :-)

    Jasmina - I think this process is a definite must for nonfiction. When I write my articles, I usually have a pretty clear picture of where I need to go.

    This is a great discussion, everyone! Thanks for chiming in.

  10. I'm a total panster so I have no idea what's going to happen to my characters when I sit down. But I had that enthusiasm you mentioned. I couldn't think about anything else so I wrote.

  11. Ouch. That's a lot of words.

    On a good day, a very good day, I can get up to 3.5k. It usually takes me a couple of days to recover though. :)

  12. I like discovering as well. I tried to plan things out once and found writing really boring.It does mean that it takes longer to write and my writing always requires more editing.

    Merry Christmas, hope you have a great holiday.

  13. Incredible! I think my highest word count in one day was 6,000. Any more I think my brain might melt. 1,000-2,000 would be enough for me!

  14. Revita - Thanks for stopping by. Having that kind of enthusiasm for the work is one of the best parts of writing. :-)

    Shirley - I know what you mean about recovering! When I did my marathon editing session on my novel for two solid days, I think it took me a good month to recover!

    Patti - Therein lies the downfall - more editing. I know exactly how that goes. But we have to do what works for us, I suppose. :-) Merry Christmas!

    Debs - 6,000 is pretty good! I think my all-time high is probably around the 4,000 range, but it's normally more 1500 to 2,000 a day.


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