Training to Incrementally Increase Wordcount

These cholla cactus are terrible to touch and so lovely to see. Right now the desert is all pink and yellow with their blooms and fruit.

So, now that we all have the guilt out of our systems and we’re not worrying about trying to get 10K words a day, I want to talk a little about how I’ve worked myself up from 1K/Day to about 1750 words/day. That’s the schedule I mentioned yesterday. It lets you draft a 100K novel in two months, with a month to revise. Or to write and revise a 30-40K novella in a month.

This is just a general goal for me, because all of these then require layers of edits, which also take time. And usually have to be done right away.

So, working with this idea of being healthy and creating sustainable habits, I approached increasing my word count like I do my exercise program: incrementally.

For example, with weightlifting, I keep a record of how much weight I do on each machine each day. (Amusingly, I use my notebook from the 2010 RWA conference in Orlando, with the Harlequin “Honeymoon Mountain” cover. Heavens only know what the gym rats think – I’m such a girl.) After I finish on a machine, I note whether that weight was easy, good or if I need to repeat. Once it’s good or easy, I increase the weight next time, to build my muscle mass and strength.

Likewise, on the treadmill, I increase my speed by 0.1 mph at a time. Don’t snicker – I’m a weenie. I have to build the cardiovascular stuff really slowly. But I have. Over time I’ve increased speed so I’m running half a mile farther in the same amount of time as I could when I started.

I tried the same approach with writing – gradually increasing my word count goal over time. My morning blog writing is the warm-up and, for the last week or so, I’ve been hitting at least 1750 words/day. And I’m very happy with that.

Now – this last week was relatively perfect conditions. No work travel. Work is not frenzied. Not that much other stuff going on. We’re headed up to Denver this weekend to see the grandbabies and get our New Kitten. It will be a good test of whether I can get my wordcount all three days.

I’m really determined.

Wish me luck!

After the First Mile

David and I have been dragging rear a bit this week. It’s probably a mild virus, possibly something that hitchhiked from the tropics. Not awful, but we haven’t been hopping up and hitting the gym like usual.

Today, though, we mustered up the will power and did the workout. Afterwards, David said, “It didn’t feel good at first, but after the first mile, I got my rhythm and then it felt great.”

You know me – I thought of writing.

I’ve been working my way back into the groove this week with Middle Princess. I know I’ve talked about it before, how difficult it can be to get back into the writing every day and, more, trying to hit at least 1,000 words/day. A lot of people out there are doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which calls for 50,000 words in the month, or about 1,666 words/day.

For me, I’ve really found that that first mile is really the hardest. Wordcount-wise, it’s somewhere around the first 350-400 words. Those can be painful and take forever to get out, but after that, it starts to feel good. Oh sure, some days I have to eke out to the very end, but often if I can just get past the 500 word mark, I can go pretty easily.

David said he thinks the hormones kick in after the first mile and I said, no, that shouldn’t be the case, because I see it with the writing like this.

What I think it is? The subconscious. Our subconscious is like a little kid or a pet. They like to play, to have fun, to run around and enjoy life. It’s the conscious, the left brain, who says “no more goofing off. you’re going to sit down and accomplish something.”

No, the subconscious doesn’t like hearing this. And, like a toddler or a puppy, it will test you.

Oh look! A yummy book to read!

Oh, let’s go outside!

What’s going on in Twitter-land?

If we want to get something done, we have to keep gently steering the subconscious back on task. I do mean gentle. If you scream at it, it’ll shut down and sulk.

But, if you keep running on the treadmill, keep tapping those keys, eventually the subconscious will play along. Then it starts to have fun. And, that, my friends, is when you hit the glory point.

It’s there. Believe me.