Posted by Heather McCollum Feb 20 2017, 1:00 am in goals, new release, writing faster, writing tips
Happy Monday! And Happy Release Day to the first book in my new Scottish Historical Romance, Highland Isles series! THE BEAST OF AROS CASTLE is about 65K words, and I wrote it in two months. I wrote the sequel in two months also, with Christmas thrown into the schedule.
Do I live alone, with only a fish to feed once a day, and eat frozen meals? No. I have three very busy kids, a hubby who works late, so I do all the cooking, and six animals that the kids said they’d look after. (Yeah, right!) I feed, walk, clean and love (okay, they help with the love) all six of those fuzzy creatures.
So how did I get 65K words written in two months without locking myself away?
One word at a time.
I’m not here to tell you it’s easy, although it is for some. I’m not here to tell you it’s crazy hard either. What works for me, may not work for you. As writers, we each must tap into our creative process in our own unique way. Although, there are some strategies that can help across the board. Here are my top five.
1. Identify if you are a long-stretch writer or a small-chunk writer. Do you like to go hours without interruption to get your words in? Or do you like to write in thirty minute increments and prefer taking breaks?
You would think that the long stretch writer would be the one who gets the most words in, but that’s not always the case. Often, the long stretch writers can’t get any words down because they can’t find an uninterrupted stretch of time. Whereas the small chunk writers will take every 15 minutes they can find.
I am very fortunate to not have to work outside the home, so theoretically I have large stretches of time to write. But I have found that I do better writing in small chunks, thirty minutes to an hour, and then I check FB or my e-mail or walk the dog. My mind and muse need a breather, even if it’s just two minutes.
Collage for CRIMSON HEART – 3rd book in the Highland Hearts series
2. Keep inspiration and information front and center. I’m terrible at remembering details like character eye color, the heroine’s horse’s name or where exactly the hero has that sexy scar. If I have to look it up in my manuscript, I lose at least five to ten minutes, searching, reading, editing, instead of getting those words down. So, I keep my book information close by, either pasted into a collage with notes written in, or on Notebook on my computer. I jot down those important details, knowing I’ll forget and need them again.
I also write out the theme of the book and the ultimate destination for the hero and heroine on a sticky note. It sits stuck to my desk where I can see it every day to help keep me on the right track. Otherwise, being more of a pantser than a plotter, I would wander.
3. Have a goal. Some days the words just don’t want to come. It’s like my muse has gone AWOL. A part of me wants to throw my hands up in disgust and yell “If my muse won’t show up, I’m not showing up,” and walk away. But I set myself a goal of 2,000 words minimum per day during the week. It helps me keep my butt in the chair. I took the advice of Roxanne St. Clair and decided I would not eat lunch until I had at least 1K words written.
If I’m editing, I set a goal of 2 hours minimum per day. I check it off in my tracking log when I make it, which is very satisfying to me. Now, if you are more of a free spirit, then set other goals like two days of brainstorming, one day of plotting, one day of writing, etc. But to get the words down, I find shooting for a certain number of words per day gets you there faster, whether it’s 500 words or 4K words.
Tracking word goals in my bullet journal
4. Think Ahead. If you know there will be a snow day, and your kids will be clamoring for hot cocoa and playdates instead of leaving the house quiet to go to school, get up at the normal time and write while they sleep in. If you have to take kids to sports practice or you have doctors’ appointments or a long hair appointment, take your lap top or notebook and write during the waiting times. If you are not a short-chunk writer, just jot down notes about plot or characters, or a snippet of dialogue to use when you have a longer stretch of time to write. But use the short bits of time wisely.
5. Write every day. I read a fabulous quote:
“Write until not writing makes you anxious.” During NaNoWriMo, I made sure to write every single day. After two weeks, I noticed I was writing faster. I was emerged into the world of my book so that I could hop back in each morning. By the end of the first month, I was able to reach my daily 2K goal before lunch. And sure enough, on certain days when writing was impossible with holiday happenings, I felt…off, like I hadn’t had my morning cup of tea or hadn’t done my daily yoga. Something that was part of my happy, normal routine was missing. So, the next day, I sat down to my book and relaxed back into it.
Those are my top 5 tips for reaching THE END as quickly as possible, without losing your mind. Of course, I still needed to edit, but as Nora Roberts once said at a conference I attended – “You can’t fix a blank page.” So, get the words down first, and then go back and mold them into a masterpiece.
Do you have any tips for getting your books finished?
For more information about me or my new release, here are places where I can be found. Have a fantastic day! Heather
Face book: https://www.facebook.com/HeatherMcCollumAuthor
P.S. I’ll be taking part in the It’s Raining Dukes and Earls Release Party on FB tomorrow, Tuesday 2/21. Stop by for fun and prizes!