As I’ve said in a previous post, I don’t discuss my work in progress. So I was a little stumped about what to write for this month’s topic, What I’m Working On. Then in an exchange of emails with Reese Ryan, it came to me. I would discuss the program I’ve implemented to increase my daily word count. Jeffe Kennedy in this brilliant post explained that increasing your daily output is like running a marathon. You don’t start out running 26.2 miles. You work up to it. You don’t go from 5 miles to 26 miles in 24 hours. So if I want to write 2000 words a day. I can’t go from 1k to 2k in one day. The always generous Jeffe shared a possible work-out routine for Nanowrimo. I took it and tweaked it for my own needs. Jeffe started at 250 words and worked up to 2200. And it ramped up fairly quickly. 250 seemed too small for me since I was already writing more than that (though much like my physical work-out routine, not consistently). So I upped the starting point to 500. And I’m working up to 2000 over several months instead of one. If we weren’t dealing with winter holidays, I’d have met that 2000 word goal more quickly. But I know my limits. I know that over the holidays, I want to spend time with my family and friends, not hunched over my computer (unless I’m hunched over it talking to family and friends). So I‘ll work up to 1000 words. Then over the holidays, I’ll cut back to 500 a day, which I can easily do in less than an hour. After the holiday season, I’ll start again at 600 words and quickly ramp up to 1k and then slow it down again until I reach 2k.
How am I accomplishing this? (Because for me, just saying I’m going to do it doesn’t work.) I’ve employed several tools. After years of hearing about the amazingness of Write or Die, I finally broke down, bought it and installed it on my laptop and desk top. I don’t use it every time I write. But if I’m having trouble getting the words to flow, I fire it up. The most effective visual consequence for me is the office horror—flimsy cubicles, one after another. It’s not my worst nightmare, but it probably ranks in the top ten. For an introvert like me, it’s certainly cringe-inducing. I’ll admit to being surprised at how motivational it is to avoid the screeching sounds and the cubicle picture that comes up when my writing slows. I set the Write or Die timer for thirty minute sessions. As soon as those thirty minutes are up, I stretch my legs and do something completely unrelated to writing for five or ten minutes. That break gets the ideas cooking again, and I sit down for another session.
Next, rewards. If I meet my word count goals for the week, I get a reward. It’s my payday. The acknowledgement that my writing has value. I talked about rewards in this post.
Third, I made a calendar with daily goals that I can cross off. It’s not on the computer. It’s an actual, physical piece of paper. I love crossing something off a list, so it’s a huge incentive for me.
How’s it working? So far, so good. Keep your fingers crossed.
Anyone else have tips to share?