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.
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.
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?