Writing Can Be a Blast

November—National Write a Novel in a Month (NANOWRIMO) is almost here. Time to churn out words with a goal of 50,000 by November 30. I’ve done it several times but never reached the target.

I came close in 2014. Around 40,000 words. I learned a tool that helped me immensely. A writing buddand I coined the phrase Writing Blast. The idea is simple—write nonstop for sixty minutes. Repeat several times.

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Here’s how I’ve refined it.

First, I set a timer. On my Mac, I use Howler Timer. It’s a free app, easy to install and a breeze to use. I set it for sixty minutes and forget it. It runs in the background and counts down the final seconds out loud, ending in a wolf howl.

Second, in Scrivener, I set a goal of 500 words for the scene or chapter I’m working on. Scrivener tracks my progress and pops up an announcement when I’ve reached and exceeded the goal.

I find the timer and the word count target keep me focused. When I used only one, it was too easy to drift off and not accomplish meaningful word counts in the one-hour time frame.

Now, when I reach 500 words before Howler goes off, I keep writing until the wolf howls. I average between 750 and 800 words per blast. In intense or fast moving scenes, I’ve done 1,000 words.

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My target now is to complete three Writing Blasts in a morning. I take a ten-to-fifteen minute break between blasts to move around physically and readjust my body and my head for the next blast.

When this works—and I don’t always hit the mark of three blasts every day—I have between 1,500 and 2,500 words. Admittedly, this is first draft material. But, it’s material I can edit and massage and refine to a quality product. And I’m producing a lot more material than ever before.

What techniques have you found helpful in maximizing your writing productivity?

4 Responses to Writing Can Be a Blast

  1. Janice C. Johnson October 21, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    The Writing Blast sounds like just the thing to help me focus! I don’t have Scrivener so I can’t get the word-count alert, BUT I do use a table to add up my daily and month-to-date progress.
    In Word, it would be simple enough to set a total-word-count goal for each blast, and glance at the word count in the corner of the screen to see how close I am.

  2. Henry October 21, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

    Thanks for visiting, Janice. The Blast definitely helps keep me focused. It reinforces not being distracted by the phone or social media. Sometimes I use social media as a reward. If I meet my word goal and write for the full hour, I can use my break time for social media. But even then, I find I have to set a timer.
    I think your solution for the word count goal is very workable.
    I’d be interested in hearing how it works for you.

  3. Loretta Eidson October 24, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

    Great idea! I’m going to set the timer on my cell phone. I love the idea of three blasts a day. I just have to learn that my sentences don’t have to be perfect first time around. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Henry October 24, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by, Loretta. I’m blessed you like the idea of the writing blast.
    For me, the writing blast is for getting the first draft down. Then I have something to work with.
    Someone once said, “The art of writing is rewriting.” The blast helps me get that first draft out where I can see it.

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