Upping the Word Count

I’m notorious for slow sprints… running and writing 😉 But recently I’ve learned—well, have been forced to learn—how to up my pace in my writing sprints. Thank you, Nano! 😉

I was at a pretty steady pace of 1000 words an hour, which is nothing to frown at, but I had no idea I could get better. Now I’m doubling that number, and here’s a few tips on how I did it.

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No distractions

Write straight through. No toggling between tabs—in fact, keep open only the manuscript. I even shut down my “research” while I draft, and use all caps or weird combinations of letters to search for later. Before, it would take me two or three sprints to reach the flow. (The flow is that zone every writer can find themselves in where the story takes them away, and the world around them becomes the book their writing.)

Now that flow is found within minutes 😉

Summarize your chapters

Before you sit down with your keyboard, sit down with a pen and paper. Write absolute nonsense about what you want to happen within the upcoming chapter. I know you pantsers are screaming at me right now 😉 but trust me, this allows your muse to keep talking at the end of each paragraph. There will be no awkward pauses in thought, and you might find yourself writing something unexpected.

Write the entire chapter

Instead of going until a certain time, write until you’re done. This also helps during revisions so nothing feels disconnected. If you don’t have chapters during your drafts, write the scene in its entirety. Take a five/ten minute break, then write the next one. Sometimes you’ll be done within the hour, sometimes less, sometimes more. But you’ll feel ten times better knowing that you didn’t drop off in the middle of a scene or chapter.

Set aside the time

We all have lives outside of writing, believe me, I know. This next one may take some trial and error, but find the time of day when you won’t be interrupted. Like for me, right now, it’s a bad time because the husband and children have all come in at least five times to ask me where something is or to wipe their butt 😉 (Not the hubby on that one!) But I find my zone at certain times on certain days, which took some figuring out.

For example, Mondays I know I have from 10-11 to write in the morning, and then from 8-10:30 that night. Tuesdays I have 10-11 in the morning and that’s it. Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8-bedtime, and Fri-Sun forget about it!

Because I know that time is precious I make the most of it.

I promise this works if you follow it. I’m able to write 1500-2500 words in an hour-long sprint when I’m this focused and when I take the five minutes beforehand to prepare. Which means writing 50K in a month not only seemed possible, it seemed inevitable 😀

Good luck out there!

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Cassie Mae is the author of a dozen or so books. Some of which became popular for their quirky titles, characters, and stories. She likes writing about nerds, geeks, the awkward, the fluffy, the short, the shy, the loud, the fun.

Author photo 2017.jpg

Since publishing her bestselling debut, Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend, she’s published several titles with Penguin Random House and founded CookieLynn Publishing Services. She is represented by Sharon Pelletier at Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. She has a favorite of all her book babies, but no, she won’t tell you what it is. (Mainly because it changes depending on the day.)

Along with writing, Cassie likes to binge watch Once Upon A Time and The Flash. She can quote Harry Potter lines quick as a whip. And she likes kissing her hubby, but only if his facial hair is trimmed. She also likes cheesecake to a very obsessive degree.

You can stalk, talk, or send pictures of Luke Bryan to her on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cassiemaeauthor

#amwriti—SQUIRREL!

The question I get asked the most is how I get so much writing done. Quick background on me, I am a mother of three (six if you count the pets, and seven if you count the husband), run an editing company, and host a weight loss support group. My day is completely booked from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. It’s exhausting. Some days I really don’t remember. And somehow, I manage to get books written as well.

You wanna know my secret? Okay, but you probably already know it.

Get rid of the distractions.

The internet is the killer of muses. If I have it up or on anywhere on my computer, forget writing. I’ll alt tab after every paragraph written and waste twenty minutes on the sucker. In twenty minutes, I can write about 500 words. So I basically lose a page every time I tab over.

I went to a writer’s retreat a couple of weeks ago, and being the lazy person I am, the internet there was a little spotty, and I didn’t feel like turning on my hot spot, so whenever we sprinted, I just did that—I wrote. And I hit the highest word count I’ve ever gotten in a single hour (2400) which I didn’t know was even possible until then. Now that I had proof that the internet was a killer of writing mojo, I was going to stay away.

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I had a deadline in two weeks, and my entire book had to be rewritten. Before the retreat, I held onto my word count like gold. It’d taken me so long to get those words, so many hours in my busy day. How in the world was I going to make them up? I had two weeks, two weeks that were already booked with edits for other clients, formatting jobs, start of school, a weight loss fall challenge… The book was crap, and I knew it, but I didn’t want to let go of those words.

But after the retreat, after knowing that without the internet being a constant distraction, I could make up those words, and I would. And they’d be so much better this time.

So I shut it off. I put away my phone. I refused to leave the manuscript until I had at least a chapter written.

I just finished. I mean literally before I started writing this blog post.  It works, people.

So turn off whatever your squirrel is. Set aside an hour at a good point in the day and give it a go!

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Author photo 2017.jpg

Cassie Mae is the author of a dozen or so books. Some of which became popular for their quirky titles, characters, and stories. She likes writing about nerds, geeks, the awkward, the fluffy, the short, the shy, the loud, the fun.

Since publishing her bestselling debut, Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend, she’s published several titles with Penguin Random House and founded CookieLynn Publishing Services. She is represented by Sharon Pelletier at Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. She has a favorite of all her book babies, but no, she won’t tell you what it is. (Mainly because it changes depending on the day.)

Along with writing, Cassie likes to binge watch Once Upon A Time and The Flash. She can quote Harry Potter lines quick as a whip. And she likes kissing her hubby, but only if his facial hair is trimmed. She also likes cheesecake to a very obsessive degree.

You can stalk, talk, or send pictures of Luke Bryan to her on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cassiemaeauthor

Can you REALLY give up on writing?

A few months ago, I sat in front of my computer and stared and stared at my manuscript, hoping that something would start talking to me soon because I had a deadline to meet. This wasn’t an abnormal thing. Staring at a Word doc (or Scrivener doc) while time passed and still no words were written had become more common than not, and I remember thinking, “Okay… I think this is it. I’ve completely lost the ability, talent, and passion… desire… mojo… whatever you call it, to write.”

I started to reminisce about the times when I would ache to write. The story would unfold so quickly in my head that my fingers itched to get it on paper. I’d spend hours nonstop typing, completely submersed in the characters’ world, oblivious to the real-life stresses around me. It was my escape, my coping mechanism, my utopia.

And then I went from aspiring writer to published author.

I hate complaining about the “after publishing” parts of the journey, because I know how it feels as a writer who isn’t. I was snapped up by one of the Big 5, had an agent, had several book deals coming in… this is what I’d been working toward. This was the dream! So when I saw the authors who posted about the woes, the stresses, the pressure that follows, I’d secretly think, “At least you have a book deal.”

So, I apologize right now for being blunt about it. But getting a book deal is only the beginning of the next, very difficult journey that comes with writing.

Tangent, sorry. Back on track! So, while I was at my computer, contemplating ways that I could still make money and give up writing, I realized that this wasn’t just a fleeting thought of “I give up” that I’d had so often but never acted upon. This was the real thing. I was done. I would meet this deadline and then I’d only be an editor. I ran the editing business, and it was profitable—more-so than my writing—and so maybe that’s what I was meant to do.

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They say when you are ready to give something up, you know it’s the right then when you feel relief. And boy, did I feel it. It washed over me like I’d been dipped into a nice warm bath. I was free again. I knew that this book would be my last.

About a month later, I was getting ready for the Storymakers conference—very big writer’s and reader’s conference in Utah—and being on the committee, I felt a little bit of a fraud. Sure, I’d published quite a few titles and I was attending as not only an author and committee member, but a vender as well for my editing business. Yet, I still felt like I was a walking false advertisement. During my counseling session that I’d been taking weekly for anxiety/depression, those thoughts came up. I was given the advice to let those thoughts go and just enjoy being there. So I made every effort to do just that.

Like I said before, I was done. Writing was gone and over, and I would focus my efforts elsewhere. I was relieved, I felt like I was on a path to healing…

But…

There was this small part of me that missed it. Whenever I was editing for one of my clients, I could feel it there. I could sense that desire to create, to make something out of nothing. I pushed it away, convincing myself that I’d made the right choice.

During the conference, my anxiety had been alleviated. I really was able to just sit back and enjoy. And because of that, I was able to really listen, really take in all the juicy, writerly goodness that comes from it. When the amazing Ally Condie gave her keynote address, I felt she was speaking directly to me.

“Write in the light,” was the message. Write what comes, not what you think you have to.

It hit me right in the feels, you guys. That, paired with the message of not living in the crevasse on your way up to the writing summit, ignited that passion I’d thought had long burned out. I came home filled to the brim with the desire to write. To tell a story, not to make money, not to meet a deadline, not to please the readers I was so desperate to please, but to tell the story I needed to tell.

I was my pre-published self again, writing past midnight, thinking up scenes on my morning walks, never staring at the screen, but itching to put down the words in my head. It’s been about a month, and I’m still going strong, because I think I’m looking at writing differently now. I feel it differently now.

There are many times we want to give up, that we aren’t sure if it’s all worth it, but after having gone through the drafting stage, the querying stage, the getting an agent stage, the subbing stage, the publishing stage, and the rinse and repeat stage, I’m just now realizing that it’s not about getting to the next thing and hoping that’s when it will all be rainbows and roses.

It’s about your story.

It’s about you.

You have something unique and genuine to bring into the world, something only you can create. And even when you feel like you just can’t do it anymore, and you feel that relief like I did when you decide to give up, know that it’s okay to set it aside, but acknowledge it is a part of you. It can always come back, sometimes when you need it most.

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Author photo 2017.jpg

Cassie Mae is the author of a dozen or so books. Some of which became popular for their quirky titles, characters, and stories. She likes writing about nerds, geeks, the awkward, the fluffy, the short, the shy, the loud, the fun.

Since publishing her bestselling debut, Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend, she’s published several titles with Penguin Random House and founded CookieLynn Publishing Services. She is represented by Sharon Pelletier at Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. She has a favorite of all her book babies, but no, she won’t tell you what it is. (Mainly because it changes depending on the day.)

Along with writing, Cassie likes to binge watch Once Upon A Time and The Flash. She can quote Harry Potter lines quick as a whip. And she likes kissing her hubby, but only if his facial hair is trimmed. She also likes cheesecake to a very obsessive degree.

You can stalk, talk, or send pictures of Luke Bryan to her on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cassiemaeauthor