Today, I’m sharing the changes I’m instituting to my writing process, after reading both of these titles by author Monica Leonelle:
Fellow Soul Mate Publishing author Beth Carter first brought the titles to my attention – thank you Beth!
Quite simply, I don’t think there’s a writer alive who doesn’t want to write faster, and for those of you who already do, I applaud you!
While I’m nowhere near Ms. Leonelle’s amazing stats, I want to share the points that have resonated with me the most, as I work toward implementing some changes I’m really excited about.
1. Know what you’re going to write about before you ever sit down to write
This deceptively simple step – and not taking heed – has bitten me time and again. To produce, I have to be focused. To be focused, I have to know what I’m writing about and not waste time by re-reading, finding the scene, referring back to another, etc. Before I know it an hour has passed and I’m staring at the 100 words I’ve managed to get down.
Leonelle challenges the concept of ‘butt in chair, hands on keyboard.’ Many writers have full time jobs, children, and a host of other responsibilities. The truth is, there is no perfect time to write, no perfect place, no perfect set of circumstances – and thinking that there is limits us tremendously. If I know what I’m going to write, as described above, then I can take advantage of half an hour here, 15 minutes there.
In our electronic crazed world, there’s an ap for everything. And a really cool one is Dragon dictation. Building on ideas #1 and #2 above, when I’m sitting in the car pool line, or taking a walk, I can get ideas down. #empowered
After I know what I’m going to write, I employ the Pomodoro method, which means writing for a specified amount of time, then taking a short break. Go to http://e.ggtimer.com/ to use the timer on your computer, versus your Smart phone, which is a discussion on distraction all its own. In her books, Leonelle recommends both a 25 minute/5 minute period, as well as an 8 minute writing sprint. But it all comes down to what works for you.
Leonelle brings up what I consider a fascinating point: she identifies if she’ll be working on dialogue, internal monologue or description; she feels each takes a particular mindset, and that writers tend to gravitate to one or the other more.
And, dare I take this one step further, by correlating author of Techniques of the Selling Writer Dwight Swain’s ingenious approach, of scene and sequel. Scene is based on Goal, Conflict and Disaster (G, C, D). Sequels are based on Reaction, Dilemma and Decision (R, D, D). It seems to follow that internal monologue more closely relates to a sequel, and that dialogue is tied into the Scene. I tend to work in dashes of description versus chunks, and to my way of thinking, it appears in both Scene and Sequel.
The concepts of Scene and Sequel keep me on track with my writing in myriad ways, including with the story elements of pacing, structure, plot and character.
Also, here are some miscellaneous actions I’ve taken to streamline my process:
The 8 minute method I’m using during the week, The 25 minute method I’m using for the days of the week I’m not at the day job.
I’ve honed my outline in Scrivener.
I’ve created a timeline in Excel, numbering the scenes, trying to get my arms around a word count before I ever begin.
As a freelancer, I was often held to strict word counts. I know how long it takes me to write a 900-1,000 word article; I’m trying to apply the same concepts to writing fiction, and not ‘overwrite’.
Turning off the internal editor – I’m making great strides in this area. And hands down, I have dictation to thank for that.
Whatever methods you use to craft your story, I urge you to embrace change. And I applaud Ms. Leonelle for sharing her advice and techniques. Thank you!
CAVEAT: By no means do I endorse sacrificing craft or quality for speed, or quantity. I firmly believe no matter what, there are some parts of a story that are going to take longer to write, and that’s that. But there’s no reason we can’t try to find ways of streamlining the other parts.
What tips do you have to share about your writing process? What’s worked for you? What hasn’t?
Rebecca E. Neely is an author, freelance writer, lover of spoon rings, diners, the Steelers & great reads.