Ally Blake Romance Author - Blog

Latest news from Australian romance author Ally Blake, writer of fun, fresh flirty romance novels.

Tuesday, 21 March 2006

word count wars


So you have this idea jumping around in your head and you really want to write a book about it, but you also taped "House" last night and you really ought to put on another load of washing, or of course there are those reports your boss wants on his desk tomorrow morning. And then how many spare hours does one usually get to lie on the couch and eat chocolate. Not enough right?

So with all these other things, like life and chocolate, getting in the way, how does one keep the word count ticking over?

1. gifts to self

Every five thousand words, give yourself a pressie.

For you a pressie might be a shopping spree to buy the latest Jodi Piccoult novel, or a diamond ring or a trip to the Bahamas. A bar of chocolate or a new pair of red shoes might be your bent. Or, like me, you might allow yourself the luxury of solid time away from the computer to watch a three hour Buffy marathon. Whatever you choose, it will give you someting concrete to look forward to after all your hard work.

For a 55,000 words book like mine, that means eleven seperate pressies! For those of you writing longer books, thinking of all the nice pleasures you've indulged in on your way to writing those two magic words: The End.

In fact, I never write those two words until I have finished my first draft. Not even if I have written the final scene and I know exactly how the book ends. Until all of the threads have been woven together into a sensible whole, I do not give myself the right to write those two words. And to this day I think that's the best gift to myself I've received - the knowledge that I can write, and finish, a book. What a thrill!

2. sacrifices

Okay, so gifts don't do it for you. How about punishing yourself for being a bad little writer if you don't do your daily word count.

That chocolate hearts waiting in your fridge? Unless you get to the end of Chapter Three, you can't have them. Not a one. Don't even think about it. Or how about if you don't do 2000 words today, you have to go to the gym an extra night this week. Well these seem extreme punishments to me, but you get the drift.

If holding out the carrot doesn't work for you, hold out the whip instead.

3. deadlines

Self-imposed or otherwise. Set a date.

In one week I will be on 5000 words. Or by the time the school holidays start, I must be finshed Chapter Eight. Or even better, sell a book and sign a contract and stick the editor imposed deadline in your calender with a big red circle around it. That big red circle strikes fear into the hearts of the strongest writers. Fear equals adrenalin and then off you go!

No gifts, no or else, just a promise to yourself that you can do it.

4. competition

Well, now this whole thing has come about because I have recently discovered the best inducement for writing lots and lots of words that I have ever found. The zokutou word meter.

It's that funny little wormy thing you can see on the right hand side of my blog, telling the world how many words I have written so far on my work in progress. I've never been terribly dedicated at keeping a writing log or diary as some other writers, but when I am on a kick I've often kept a scribbled daily word count next to my computer, a physical reminder that I am actually further along than I was a week ago even though it might not feel like I am. But the Zokutou word meter is like a flash, colourful, out there version of that. And I love it!!!

Especially considering my little word meter worm is currenly in competition with another worm. Go check out Trish Wylie's blog and see how her worm is going. If she is further ahead than I am, picture me tearing out my hair. Or likely I am only thinking about tearing it out because my fingers are otherwise engaged in doing my darndest to keep up with her.

And somehow in the same couple of weeks it has taken for me to get to this point, I have done the washing, redesigned a new website ready for the big whammo new Harlequin Romance relaunch in a few months, I have watched every TV show I've taped, and I've managed to read some really great books. (Including: Jenny Crusie's "Welcome to Temptation" and Olivia Gates's first Bombshell "Strong Medicine". Fabulous books both!)

And for a book that is not due until the end of June, I am close to half way done. According to the zokutou worm I am 43.6% of the way to be precise. Boy does that give me a thrill! Doesn't 43.6% sound further along than 22668 words? To me it does, and that's the point.

Find a way that moves you, pushes you, gets you excited, not just about the book you are working on, but about writing it in a timely manner. The sooner your book is complete, the more time you have for chocolate and Buffy. And how can that be a bad thing?

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