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.
And 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.