And You Can Do It Too!
by Rachelle J. Christensen
I just returned from a fabulous writing retreat where I killed my writing goals, and I can’t wait to tell you about the simple methods I used to write 25,000 words, or roughly 120 double-spaced pages, in two and a half days! There are three secrets to my success you can implement to up your writing productivity now, and then I have a couple more tricks up my sleeve . . .
#1 The Pomodoro Technique
There are a lot of writing apps that can help writers set writing-project goals, incorporate rewards, and run writing sprints that boost my productivity. Hunt around and find your favorite app that helps you reach your goals.
I work in twenty-five minute sprints and usually write around seven- to eight-hundred words in each sprint. The most important thing is to try it out. Even if you set a timer for twenty-five minutes on your phone, it works the same as long as you focus on writing, and writing only, for that twenty-five minutes. Then the fun begins! Reward yourself with a treat (I love 90-percent dark chocolate), a short walk, a five-minute deep-breathing exercise, or a yoga session.
Now, if you’re in the flow of your story and don’t want to stop, then just stand, stretch, take a deep breath, and restart the timer. When practicing the Pomodoro technique, don’t allow yourself to fail! Make your writing sprint sacred–something that shall not be interrupted by texts, emails, or surfing the web. Here’s where Writeometer* comes in handy because it helps you stay on task. This is something you can implement today to change up your writing game for success!
Here’s a rundown on how I reached 25K words in two and a half days using the Pomodoro technique with writing sprints:
Thursday: After driving for about two hours, I arrived at my writing destination of Lava Hot Springs, Idaho. I wrote during 4 sprints plus an extra 15 minutes=115 minutes, or just shy of 2 hours, for a total of 3,572 words that evening. Then my friends and I enjoyed the natural hot springs and talked about our writing in prep for the next day.
Friday: 13 writing sprints at 25 minutes each=325 minutes, or 5.4 hours, of writing for a total of 10,377 words! And guess what, there was still time to hit the hot springs again and have some great brainstorming time with people who get writing.
Saturday: 13 writing sprints at 25 minutes each plus one 10 minute sprint=335 minutes, or 5.5 hours, of writing for a total of 11,056 words!
Total=25,005 words in 775 minutes, or 12.9 hours! That equates to roughly 1,938 words per hour on a first draft of a book, which is a pace I’m very happy with.
Another point to consider is that 5.5 hours a day is not working full time. You can get so much accomplished utilizing these sprints. At the rate of 10,000 words a day, you could write an 80,000-word novel in 8 days.
Writing sprints utilizing the Pomodoro technique has increased my writing productivity immensely, and I’m not writing junk either. I say this because I’ve received questions about the quality of words written at that speed. Let me emphasize that I’m not just filling up pages. Each word I write is working to make my story stronger and working to build the story arc. All writing requires editing (and I LOVE the editing phase), but my goal is to write streamlined so I don’t have to go back and delete messy scenes that don’t work.
At the bottom of this post, I’ll include a list of links and resources, including an excellent article that explains how Francesco Cirillo developed this technique and more details on how to implement it into your lifestyle. Watch for asterisks indicating more resources at the bottom of the post.
#2 Plotting Systems with a Minimal Outline
I could write a book on this topic alone, and I have taught several in-depth classes on the power of outlining. There is a special balance to outlining that when done right creates a magic that brings your story together into a successful page-turner. Even if you’re holding hard to the class of pantsers, I encourage you to consider that when I began studying plotting and outlining, I tripled my productivity.
I highly recommend a fantastic series of free videos* on YouTube from NYT best-selling author Dan Wells. I’ve attended a class like this in person, and understanding plot points is integral to writing a solid first draft and being able to write it quickly. No time wasted writing yourself into corners! You can watch the five-part video series on YouTube in less than an hour.
#3 Earbuds or noise-canceling headphones and the perfect music for your story
A little secret to my success that’s often overlooked is the power of concentration. Whether you’re writing in a house with five kids (that’s me!) or you get the awesome chance to go on a writing retreat (also me!), or you’re writing in your office with the door closed (in my dreams!), there is a great chance of interruption by background noises.
During your writing sprint, put in a pair of headphones* and listen to music that inspires your creativity. Invite the muse to dance along and not distract you from writing. That music is different for every person and likely could change for each story you write. Here are a few of my favorite channels: Relaxdaily,* SOS radio, the Piano Guys, my Hawaiian music channel on Pandora (definitely put me in the mood for Veils and Vengeance* and Hawaiian Masquerade*), Mozart and other classical music (which has been proven to increase brain waves and growth in babies), Irish dance music, old-time classics from the 1950s, and Elvis. What are some of your favorite inspiring albums or channels? Drop me a line in the comments!
Rachelle J. Christensen is the award-winning and best-selling author of ten books (suspense, romance, and nonfiction). Her recent work, The Soldier’s Bride, was selected for the Kindle Scout publishing award. In addition to degrees in psychology and music, she has studied at the elite Highlights Conference in New York and is also a graduate of the Steve Scott Authority Pub Academy. Rachelle enjoys online marketing and harnessing the power of social media. She has shared her secrets for low-cost internet marketing with a multi-million dollar worldwide company, publishers, and dozens of authors, including New York Times Best Seller David Farland and celebrity Merrill Osmond. To top it off, she’s a mother of five and lives on a farm in Idaho with dozens of chickens, four cats, and hopefully a dog soon. Visit www.rachellechristensen.com to learn more about upcoming books. Rachelle offers a free suspense novella and more tips in her VIP newsletter here.