Saturday, November 26, 2011

Word Wars and the Art of Speed Writing

As of this morning, I'm 5000 words from completing NaNoWriMo. In the last two days, I've written 6000 words, and I hope to write another 2000 or so tonight, which will hopefully lead to my finishing this weekend.

I accomplished this with a lot of help. For the last three Fridays, I met with a few other NaNo writers in my region. Together, we sat in Starbucks from 7:30 until close, writing away and occasionally pausing to chat and relieve some of the pressure. For all three of these days, I saw word counts at least over 2000. Yesterday, I wrote 4470 words.

And they weren't bad either. I know that, by its nature, NaNoWriMo encourages you to write a lot of crap in the hopes of finding something good amidst the wreckage. The idea is that putting something on the page, no matter how bad, is better than having nothing. But yesterday I wrote two short stories in the Rosetta universe which could, depending on how things fall into place, wind up at the end of book three (or maybe somewhere in four, if there is a four). They're certainly not ready-to-publish yet, but they're solid stories that are at least tangentially related to my main novel.

To spur each other on, we engaged in word wars. Basically, you set a time limit, and everyone writes as much as possible. Whoever writes the most words wins. We did three last night: two for 30 minutes and one for 20.

I strongly advocate word wars.

Nothing focuses me quite like a competition, especially when my competitor is sitting next to me, clacking away and making me think that she's racing along (turns out she was; I lost two of the three wars). So I just kept writing, never stopping, hardly thinking, and I wound up with something that can be trimmed down to something very nice. I already have the ideas. I just need the extra push to put them on paper.

I also strongly advocate writing in groups. I thought it would be distracting, that I'd want to talk more than type. And sometimes I did, but more often we egged each other on, scolding when we got too distracted. I worked harder on those days than any other, and I counted on them to help when I fell behind in the word count. As a result of last night's (and my increased motivation today) I'm currently 1700 words ahead of where I need to be. And this blog post will only add to that.

Anyway, the moral of this story is to consider writing with a buddy. Whether it's sending your chapters to a friend or getting together with other writers for a little good-natured competing. You might be surprised by the results you get.

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