Writing By The Numbers: Works in Progress

Writer's cave, that is . . .
Writer’s cave, that is . . .

Like most writers, I have a favorite place to work in my home.  It’s quiet and well-appointed.  In all honesty, I had it ‘well-appointed’ way before I ever wrote a word.  Which hints at the main point of this post–that blank page can be intimidating.  And so we might end up feathering our writer-ly nests indefinitely instead of sitting down and doing the hard work of getting our ideas out onto the paper or keyboard.  I know I did.

With my second novel, which I’ve been working on this summer, I felt the same anxiety I felt with my first novel.  I would find other tasks to keep me from getting down to business.  Prepping for dinner.  Cleaning (you know your writer intimidation is bad when you’d rather scrub your shower than sit down in front of your computer).  Walking the dog–again.

But then I hit upon something that’s really alleviated a lot of that stress of sitting down to a fresh writing session–focus on word count.  Just get a set number of words done, don’t worry about them being perfect (that’s what editing is for anyway), and move on with your day.

I pulled the idea from Tom Holland’s Marathon Training method, which I used when I first started training years ago.  His emphasis for first time runners was to focus on mileage–‘Just get the miles, and everything else will follow‘ pretty much sums up the approach.  And, at least for me, the same method has worked incredibly well for my writing.

Every day, weekends included, I set out to get 2,000 words down, which translates for my writing style into about 1-2 scenes on average.  Something about having the fixed goal in my head, and the forgiveness already embedded in my mindset that my writing will not be perfect, freed up that portion of my brain that was gnawing on fear and preventing me from getting my ideas down.

And the best part?  Instead of dreading going down to my writing area, I look forward to it.

Give it a try.

Get your words, and everything else will follow.   

Calling All Thriller Writers: Freakonomics has a few suggestions

Just when you thought the world of podcasts couldn’t get any better, you end up listening to an episode that connects two seemingly disparate parts of your life and you just sit and thank your lucky stars that you live in an age where you can get so much information so easily!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACase in point, the latest podcast from Freakonomics: How to Create Suspense.  Leave it to economists to make our writing even better.

So, if you’re plotting (in the true literary sense, that is, and not the, shall we say, life-imitates-literary-hijinks sense) or just a fan of how data makes our lives better, then check it out.  And, just to keep you in suspense, I’ll leave it at that.