Category Archives: Recommended Resources for Writers

Recommended Resources: January 6, 2016

Here are four very different approaches to writing. I’ve used the first three, and am currently experimenting with the fourth.

Writing in very short bursts–I wrote many stories this way when I worked at a corporate job that required a lot of mental energy. I would start a short burst every time one of my coworkers took a cigarette break. Her six smoke breaks allowed me to write 2000 words each day. Here’s how I did it:

Using tracking and detailed outlining to increase word count–Rachel Aaron is famous for training herself to write ten thousand words per day. I’ve gone through Rachel Aaron’s method and while it hasn’t gotten me up to 10k per day (yet), it did put me on the path to gradually upping how many words I can write per hour. Here’s how she did it:

(She also expanded on this blog post with much more detail in a book by the same title:

Writing scenes in layers–The principle behind this is relatively simple. You start with the aspect of the scene that you’re most comfortable with; for me, that’s almost always dialogue. Then you go back an add in body language where it’s appropriate. Then you go back through again and write the scene action. Then you do another pass and write the description of the setting where appropriate. Then you do another pass and insert the characters’ thoughts and feelings. You keep layer scene elements, one at a time, until the entire scene is written.

Writing via dictation–I’ve tried this in the past, and gave up due to how hard it was to train the dictation software to understand me. But the latest version of Dragon has pretty darned good accuracy…and upgrading to a better microphone makes it even more accurate. So I’m taking another stab at training myself to dictate stories. I’m discovering that the best kind of scene outline for this is one where I’ve written a sentence for each of the things that happens in the scene. Then I can just look at one sentence at a time and flesh it out with dictation. I read a really helpful ebook on getting used to dictation called Dictate Your Book by Monica Leonelle, which talks about ways to increase your dictation software’s accuracy and get comfortable with dictation more quickly:

(FYI, all links above that lead to Amazon are affiliate links; if you’re not comfortable with that, you can always go directly to Amazon and search for the recommended books and software by title.)

Whenever I try a new method of writing, I do it as a 21-day challenge, to give myself plenty of time to experiment and find out if there’s a way that I can make that method work for me.

But like I said before, I don’t use the method on a story that has to get done–that’s too much pressure. I come up with a side project that I can afford not to finish if the method doesn’t work.

Yes, it feels awkward and weird at first. But think about it. Fifteen minutes a day for 21 days might take your word count to a whole new level.

And even if it doesn’t explode your productivity, you will still learn things about your unique creative process that you can use to tweak your current approach to writing.

I encourage you to set aside some time to try at least one new thing in 2016 to improve your writing process.

And I’d love to hear about it, whether it’s one of the methods above, or something that you’ve been thinking about trying. Reply to this email and share your 2016 writing experiment with me!