Improving One’s Craft

by | May 21, 2021 | Writing | 0 comments

This is an old post involving my struggles to increase my output. I originally published it on 14 March 2019.

It’s always good to improve.  Whether you’re a woodworker, a painter, or even a writer.  Each person is better than s/he thinks s/he is, but there’s always room for improvement.

One of the facets of writing that I want to work on this year is productivity.  A huge part of productivity is discipline.  The simple act of putting one’s butt in a chair and tapping away at the keyboard (or speaking into a microphone if you dictate) whether or not you want to do that will go a long way in meeting your productivity goal(s).

Beyond discipline, though, what can one do to get the words out faster and still have those words be vaguely intelligible?  Improving your typing speed and accuracy is one way.  Another is to use the ‘sprint’ method.

I first heard of the ‘sprint’ method in regards to the Agile software development methodology.  A full discussion of which is beyond the scope of this article and the interest of its author.  The theory behind a sprint, though, is a block of time during which you’re 100% focused on a specific task.  Coding, painting, washing the cat…whatever.

I started Book 2 of my new Sci-Fi series two days behind schedule.  Assuming 50 chapters in this volume, I needed to write three chapters per day (starting the 10th) to finish the manuscript by my self-imposed deadline of April 1st.  Pacemaker helped me arrive at this plan and would have given me three, whole days of no writing at the end of the period.

On the 12th of March (Day 1 should’ve been the 10th of March), I wrote Chapter 1.  It had 2,922 words across 11 pages, and I felt brain-dead at the end of it.  I tried rallying for another chapter but woke up on the 13th not having done so.  Speaking of the 13th, I wrote Chapter 2…a whole, whopping 3,685 words across 14 pages.  I also had an appointment to visit a friend, and leaving that visit I felt energized and ready to write another chapter.  My mind–on the other hand–had different plans, and I woke up this morning (the 14th of March) having only written one chapter on the 12th and one on the 13th.

It was time to make a change.

Last year, I expanded my writing library to include books on the business side of indie authoring, and one of those I added to my collection is “5,000 Words Per Hour” by Chris Fox.  I have so far confirmed it’s available on Amazon and Kobo.  I do not know about Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, or any other retailers.  While reading this book, the author exposed me to the ‘sprint’ method once again: writing sprints.

In the book, the author advocates starting with sprints even as small as five minutes, just to get yourself into the practice of using sprints.  I knew that wouldn’t fly for me, since it takes me at least ten minutes just to get wound up, so I decided to try 30-minute writing sprints today.

I have not cracked 5,000 words per hour.  Not yet.  My best was 1,814 words per hour in my second sprint of the day.  Apparently, 2:57am is my sweet spot for writing.  Who knew?  Overall, though, I’ve written 6,100 words across three chapters today.

Am I more productive?  I’d say so.  But…the one thing I am not is brain-dead.  I can’t explain why using sprints is different than just writing straight through, but the fact is that I’m more functional and eager to write at 10:40pm after a 6,100-word day than I was at this time yesterday.

Next step?  Buy a quality microphone, and give dictation a try.  To meet my desired goals, I need to write one book per month, and I’d like to meet my goal without giving myself carpal-tunnel syndrome at the same time.  🙂

Aside from improving my productivity as a writer, there’s also the concept of book marketing to consider.  I’m studying that, too.  It’s a far more complicated subject.

But that, as they say, is another story…


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