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?
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.
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.
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!
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.