Alex Callahan

Perfect mix of magic and mayhem

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#AmWriting is HARD – How I Get My Word Count In

You have to write to be a writer. But it’s easier said than done.

Like probably every other writer on the planet, more often than not, getting the words on the page is a struggle. Finding the time to write was my biggest problem for the years. Once I became a full time freelancer, that problem was solved. Yet I still struggled to finish my novel. Getting any substantial wordcount was a huge challenge and it was taking ages. At this point, I feel like I’ve tried every trick under the sun. And now I decided to share them with you.

Write every moment you can / The Pomodoro Technique

I sometimes keep my Scrivener project opened while I work on my copywriting for various clients and I will write a sentence or two in between other tasks. It never results in massive wordcounts, but by the time I’m ready to finish my day, I’ll still have a couple hundred words that weren’t there before.

Alternatively, I’ll use a modified Pomodoro Technique and just do a quick (or in my case an hour long) session and just write. For me, an hour is long enough to get a lot of words in (when I’m on a roll and the muse is cooperating, I can even pull off 2000 words in that time). Sometimes, I’ll be able to do more than one session, but that’s mostly on the weekends.

Going on a writing retreat and/or finding a writing buddy

Writing is a solitary endevor. Nobody is going to write your novel for you (unless you’re using ghostwriters, but that’s a whole different story), so you need to sit in that chair and type away. Unfortunately, the world is full of distractions, other priorities, family, friends, and so on. Sometimes it’s hard to just switch everything off and get lost in writing, especially when it’ not your full time job (yet!).

Finding a writing buddy, someone you stay in constant contact with, who is also a writer might help. I know it helped me temendously. Setting up goals, meeting on a regular basis really motivated me to keep going forward/ I’m pretty sure that without my friend, Megan, I wouldn’t be able to finish even one novel. I’m not writing the 4th one.

Another thing we do, is meet every month for an intense weekend of writing and editing. It’s something between a slumber party and a writing retreat. Nothing matters but the word count and achieving our goals. It’s amazing and results in spectacular results. If you can, you need to try it!

Word Crawls – achieving yours goals little by little

Word crawls are a fairly recent discovery for me. I stumbled upon them during last years NaNoWriMo, when I made a mistake of setting up an Overachieving Goal above the regular 50k. I needed every trick under the sun to get all the words in and I was trying out all kinds of things. But it was the word crawls that consistently kept getting me to write more. I kept telling myself “just one more step”. It was particularly helpful during the week 2 crisis.

I use different crawls to keep things interesting, if I don’t feel like writing against the clock, I will go with the Dice crawl that never returns the same number of words and so it never feels like I’m doing the same thing over and over again.

Follow my writing journey on Twitter, or share your thoughts in the comments below.

Won #NaNoWriMo and finished my novel! Time to celebrate!

NaNo-2015-Winner-Badge-Large-SquareI did it! Not only did I write over 50k in less than a month, but I also managed to complete what I set out to do!

I finished the first draft of my next novel faster than the previous one. The book, a YA paranormal story that I’m calling Misplaced, ended up being shorter than I anticipated, but still got over 55k in this draft.

For those of you who share my love for statistics:

I finished Misplaced in 28 days (as opposed to 60 days of writing, and 2.5 months between start and finish for Dead Under the Moon). It was completed in under 40 hours of actual writing (DUtM clocked almost 51 hours), averaging 1400 words per hour (where DUtM ended up having 950 wph average).

While I had amazing days (Day 1 and the 10k will not be forgotten for a long time), I also had really low points where I managed to write just a sentence before giving up. Still. I proved myself that with 2 hours a day, I can complete a novel within a month. And that gives me a lot of hope for the future of my writing.

Misplaced is the last competed novel in 2015. Now, I’m moving back to editing Blood in the Sky. Aiming to finish incorporating my beta’s critique by the end of the year. Depending on how that’s gonna go, I may or may not start another novel.

Things that helped me achieve my goal:

  • Nano. The atmosphere and the common goal, helped me get hyped up and it definitely helped me get through the low points
  • Really good outline. I would not be able to get through the low points, or the dreaded middle, without it. It was detailed enough to show me where I needed to go, but I kept things vague where I wanted to let my imagination carry me.
  • Getting to know the characters before I started to write. Having to start on November 1 meant I had some extra days once the outline was complete. I spent those days thinking about the characters and where I wanted to go with them. It allowed for some incredible things, where the characters surprised me and made the plot even better. Getting to know them also gave me some amazing ideas for the rest of the series.
  • Support from my friends and family. on and offline. I can’t even begin to emphasize how much people’s support and words of encouragement helped me.

Stay tuned for my plans for 2016. For now, I’m off to edit. World domination won’t happen on its own, after all! 😉

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