Back from the Conference in Arizona and Ready to Jump Back into Writing

I’ll be posting pictures from the conference when Janet Nitsick and I have a chance to meet up so I can download the pictures from her camera.  I was going to use my husband’s iPhone, but since Janet has a digital camera, we decided to use hers.

In the meantime, I have learned a technique for improving my word count that I’m excited about.  Virginia Nelson taught the class at the conference.  The method she taught is called “sprinting”, and the idea is to write in 15-20 minute sprints (mine tend to go more to 20 minutes).  Then I need to take a 10 minute break while thinking of the next scene in the book.  The catch?  There is no editing allowed at all while sprint writing.  That means no backspaces, no worrying about punctuation or spelling or anything.  During the workshop I took in Arizona, we were allowed two practice sessions.  And though I wrote things out by hand (because I didn’t take my computer), I did see the potential for this really working for me.

patty's gamble ebook coverAnd when I woke up this morning, I was excited to try it on Patty’s Gamble because I really want to get the book out by the end of this month.  Yesterday, I sat down for 30 minutes and gave a rough plot for the rest of the book.  I don’t know if I can plot from the beginning of a book because I never know the characters when I start.  I only have a vague idea of what things will happen, but it isn’t until about chapter 3 that I know my characters well enough to tell what will or won’t happen.

Anyway, I did plot out the rest of this book so I know where I’m going and how things will get resolved.  The matter right now is getting it all down on paper.  I worked out a rough estimate on how many words I have left in Patty’s Gamble, and I came out with a 15,000 to 20,000 word estimate.  Then I told myself, “If I can write 5,000 words a day, I could finish this in less than a week.”

That’s when I got really excited.  It also made me aware that doing this sprinting method probably will require me to work on one book at a time.  It’s hard to shift into another story setting when going at it so hard and fast.  So I have put all my other projects on hold. But I don’t think I’ll end up losing traction this way.  In the long run, I expect to even out to my current output or even improve it.  But I do think I need to start being more of a plotter if I’m going to be successful at this.

I plotted out 90% of The Earl’s Secret Bargain.  I’m not as far in The Earl’s Secret Bargain as I am in Patty’s Gamble, so it’s not as easy for me to see where the story is going.  While the plotting to Patty’s Gamble took about two pages, The Earl’s Secret Bargain took five pages (and that was after wiping out my first attempt).  I need more direction (apparently) the further from the end I am.

But it does feel good to have a sense of direction before I start “sprinting” my way through these books.

These sprinting sessions leave me with a very rough draft, and I have to write each scene in a blank new document so I don’t get distracted by everything else I already put in the book.  Yeah, I know it sounds weird, but I tried it the other way and kept stalling out.  So I swapped to a blank document and told myself, “Nothing comes before or after this scene” and I was able to do it.  Then I copied and pasted it into the actual book.

This is what “sprinting” looks like when I do it in case anyone wondered just how bad a rough draft can look when no editing is allowed:

            “You all better hope you still have jobs when I’m free of these this…this…” He glanced dat this the lasso around his chest and grumbled. “What good was it to try to threaten them when he was apprehended by a woman. and by a woman of all peop;le! The randch hands would never let him leive this down.

Needless to say, I am aware that editing is going to be more intense than what I’m used to, but I think it’s going to be worth it.  So yes, the first draft is horrible, but it’s something I can work with.  Today, I got in 6,500 words, and I’m not worn out.   After I fix up all my mistakes, I probably have about 4500 to 5000 words I can actually use from the 6500, but that’s still better than my usual 2500 words on a really good day I used to pull in.

I don’t know if this method could work for everyone.  It is hard to get around the need to edit as you go along, and while writing this blog post, I had trouble adjusting back to “edit as I type mode.”  So switching back and forth is a bit jarring.

Anyway, my estimate at the moment is 15,000 more words for Patty’s Gamble.  If I can manage 5,000 words a day, then I can finish it this week.  Now I need to give my beta readers and editors a heads up.  I’d like to have it edited and ready for them by June 15.  Fortunately, I have half this book already edited from my nightly edits that I tend to do on 1-2 chapters of a current work in progress.  Most of the book is polished up already so it’s legible.

Tomorrow I’ll be sending out emails to my beta reading/editing team.  I took today off from emails because I got back from Arizona late last night and needed a day to regroup.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to
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10 Responses to Back from the Conference in Arizona and Ready to Jump Back into Writing

  1. dorothypaula says:

    Dear Ruth, Glad you are home safely and back to your books. I can see how the “sprinting” method can work for you. You are a prolific writer and can write a chapter in the time it takes me to write a page. I’m a slow writer. Health and time restrictions don’t help, and I have never been able to plot a book from start to finish. I formulate a beginning, middle and end (a few sentences each) and let the characters fill in the in-betweens. I do a complete first draft — that takes me about six-to-eight weeks, novella-wise, that is, and then re-draft, edit, polish, etc. (another three to four weeks). So you can see why I usually end up in one year with about three novellas and my yearly issue of The Pink Chameleon On Line.

    By the way, I updated my advertisements for your books. Here is the link: – Just scroll down the homepage until you see them. I included book covers of your recent publications and links to more of your books, along with information from your blogs. Let me know what you think. Or if you’d like me to change anything. I’m posting works daily that I’ve accepted from writers in order to have the completed issue no. 15, out by the end of June, Lord willing. And then, on to my next novella, God willing.

    Looking forward to Patty’s Gamble! 🙂

    • Wow. You did a lot of work on your site. How did you get the books to go side by side like that? I had to get help to manage that when I tried to do it. I love the look and am very touched you did that. Thank you. 🙂

      I think people need to write in the way that is most comfortable for them. I don’t like the idea that we have to all write the same way. God made us all differently. Life would be boring if he made us all the same. I had been struggling with finding a method of writing that works best for me, and for the first time, I’m actually plotting. That is something I never thought I’d do. 🙂 But I did find while writing the rest of Patty’s Gamble, I didn’t follow the plotting exactly. The characters still came in and changed a couple things.

      You write more than some people I know. 🙂 Health and time restrictions definitely work against writers. I think slow and steady is great.

  2. You used the words “plotted out” in this post. I SAW you. What will pantsers around the world think of that??? *giggles*

    I enjoyed that class SO much. I’m going to try the sprinting method, too. I think it will give me an incentive to write more days a week, too, if I feel I’m not taking as much time. Virginia Nelson is a great teacher and so nice.

    I hated I didn’t get to spend more time with you. I couldn’t ever seem to find you when I was looking for you, and I didn’t have your phone number. 😦 I’m glad we got to see each other, though, even if the time was too short. We’ll see each other again someday, maybe in a less hectic setting.

    • I know. I never thought the day would come when I plotted anything except the last three chapters of a book.

      That was one of the best classes I’ve taken to help me with writing a book in a long time. Her method has worked so well for me. I’m amazed it’s possible for me to write more than 2500 words in a day.

      The kids will get older, and it’ll get easier for me to go to conferences or meet up with people. I expect another couple years should do it unless my husband suddenly realizes he can manage with four kids all by himself without losing his mind.

  3. Glad you had a good time 🙂

    I kind of do this – I sprint, then take those ten minutes to go back and edit, LOL! and yeah, my first shot looks a lot like that 😉

    • The first draft is a mess, isn’t it? I’ve never tried this before, but it has worked so well for me. When the woman first told me I wasn’t allowed to edit at all while writing, I thought, “I can’t do that. There’s no way.” Then I thought, “Why am I putting limits on myself? I need to try it before I say I can’t do it.” I guess the hardest battle is in the mind. Once I opened up to it, the rest was easy. I can’t believe how quickly it worked. 😀

      • Yes! They are in the way we look at things. I am working with my brother right now and his is that one is written it’s in stone, so I suggest “let’s go back and chance this character’s motivation” and his first response is “but we can’t!” And I have to say “yes we can. We are the good of their universe. We can do anything” Lol!

        • I agree. And it’s fun being in control. Writing is the only time we can go back and change anything. It can be disheartening to go back and change things, but I have always found the book is better afterward. 🙂

  4. Michele M says:

    All the word count goals of 6500 and stating your usual 2500 words, etc. reminds me of when I am doing medical transcription. After your rough draft, do you go ahead and type the novel yourself. Most of the doctors today use voice recognition software and they dictate their own reports, and then we format and edit the dictation into a final report. It would be nice if you dictated your novel and could transcribe your dictation, and dictate from your rough draft like to go back to a certain section in the rough draft and make changes or add more to it, etc. for the transcriber to add and save it each time as you go along and could transcribe and read the novel at the same time. ; – ) Keep up the great novels, I am still over in Nebraska with all those Larson’s drama, makes me feel like I am almost family with them and back in time.

    • I do type when I sprint. I haven’t done this with voice recognition software. I’ve thought about doing that, but if typing it out by sprinting will get me the word count I want, then I don’t plan to try speaking my book. I tried that in 2003 and froze up. I could probably get past it, but the time spent working on that when I could be writing instead might not be worth it.

      What I did with Patty’s Gamble was read through it when the first draft was done. I ended up deleting quite a bit but adding a few sentences here and there to get my meaning out better. The rough draft was still workable, and the touchups weren’t as intense as I thought they’d be (which surprised me). The key was knowing where I was going in the story before I sat down to write. 🙂 I’m trying it again for The Earl’s Secret Bargain and seeing how it goes.

      I hope you enjoy spending time with the Larsons. 🙂

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