Saturday, August 03, 2013

100 Word Leaps and JulNo Notes

July was a difficult month for me. Well, duh. You start out with a heart attack on the second and it's kind of hard to get your footing afterwards. New drugs didn't help, either. I slept a lot of July away.

Almost anyone in my position would have bowed out of JulNo.

I am not like most people. I was fretting over too many things -- my health, the cost of all this hospitalization and medicines, the worry about what to do next to avoid this happening again, etc.

Writing has always been my one real escape from reality. So I went back to it. People warned me that I was working too hard, but the truth is I was escaping from worries that were far worse than running on an adventure with my characters. There were still problems, though. The drugs were making it hard for me to work at all, let alone focus on the stories. I finally moved from Connor of Northgate to Devlin 9, which I had at least half outlined already. That helped considerably.

By the end of July I had over 100,000 words and I was in the top ten on the site. You want to know how I did it? Yeah, I sat down and wrote. But there is an easy trick that will add up to a lot of words without as much effort. It helps to have an outline, but it's not necessary.

You aim at 100 words at a time. You focus on that little tiny bit of the story moving forward by a paragraph or two. What do your characters need to see or say or do right at this moment in the story? Keep the larger view in mind, but focus on the immediate needs of this page.

You can write 100 words in a relatively short time. Then take a break and either do something else (a bit of house cleaning is my favorite or chat with others in the Forward Motion chat rooms), and then aim at the next 100 words. If you do that ten times, you'll have a thousand words.

Because you are focusing on a small number, the stress of getting those words written isn't nearly as strong as a goal of 2000 words by the end of the day. It may be difficult at first, but as you get used to the 100 word jumps, they become easier. Your mind stops flittering on to other things because you know you can get these few words done with relative ease. Your focus becomes better for writing.

You rarely hit 100 words exactly, of course. You'll go over a few. They're like freebie words that you get to add to your daily total.

Programs like Scrivener and Word make it easy to keep watch for the next 100 word mark, too. It becomes fun to see each jump in word count.

I am going to start using a #100WordLeap hastag on Twitter, posting after every 100 words -- though not every time I write. Feel free to use it too and see how you do. By posting your jumps on Twitter, you can track how many minutes it takes you per 100 words, either with or without breaks between. For many people, the amount of time it takes will lessen as they get used to thinking in this type of focus.

And let me know how you do. Remember to make this fun. There is no reason to make writing into a job of drudgery. If you hate the work, it's going to show in your writing. Find the fun again. Learn to love not only what you write, but the wonderful act of creating the stories, too.

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