Informal Word Count Challenge: Tips, Tricks, Cheats and Techniques

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Looking for motivation this month?

Submitted: February 06, 2012

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Submitted: February 06, 2012

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Tips, Tricks, Cheats and Techniques

If you're struggling to reach your word count target and get those words onto the page, have no fear! I'm here to help. Here are a few of the tips, tricks, cheats and techniques I've found most useful for breaking through writer's block.

1. Carry a notebook around with you. Whenever you have a spare minute, get out your notebook and jot down a few observations about your surroundings. Once you've made a few notes about what and who are around you, give yourself 10 or 15 minutes to make a short story based on them. It doesn't have to be perfect – you don't have to use it for any serious writing – but it counts towards your target and is a brilliant way to store up on potentially fascinating ideas. Oftentimes I've written a short story that's sparked an idea for a fully-fledged novel. Hopefully it'll help you too.

2. Here's a good cheat that I picked up during NaNoWriMo – don't delete anything you write. If you type out a paragraph of description and decide you don't like it, don't throw it out! Instead, cut and paste it into a new document and save it as something like 'Extras' or 'Crap heap'. The words in that document can count towards your target; after all, they're bits of prose you wrote. Just because you're not using them doesn't negate the fact that they came from your imagination. Plus, you might later decide that you want to put those bits of prose back into the story; by having a copy saved, you won't have to spend time trying to remember what you wrote and typing it out again.

3. If you feel like your creativity is inaccessible, as though it's been blocked by something or you just can't rekindle the verve you had before, try a free-write session. Give yourself 2, 10 or even 15 minutes on a timer (how long depends on how much time you have available), pick up your pen and write, without stopping, for your allotted time period. The trick is to write a bit faster than your brain can form the thoughts; this stops you feeling self-conscious or editing before you get the words on the page, both of which are a sure way to stop the flow of writing. Spelling and grammar can come later. If you find yourself running out of ideas, write about how you're running out of ideas and why. Then expand on these. Write about your memories, your emotions, your characters, your stories – anything. Just don't stop writing. You can learn more about free-writing here.

4. While you're free-writing, if you're working on a computer, you might find it less distracting if you turn off the monitor or, if you can't do that, put something across the screen so that you can't see what you’re writing. If you can't look back at what you've written, you won't pause and disrupt the flow of words.

5. Remove distractions. Turn off your phone and the internet. As the saying goes, "Writing a book is 10% inspiration and 90% not being distracted by the internet."

6. Put a notepad and pen by your bed on a night and set your alarm clock for 30 minutes earlier. When you wake up the next morning, grab your notepad and start writing. According to writing coaches, mornings, particularly after you just wake up, are the best times to write as you're still in a dream-like state, making it easier for the words to flow from the subconscious and allowing enchanting ideas to surface. Keeping a dream journal for a similar reason might also help you.

7. Try the Write or Die programme, either for free on the internet or as the desktop version on your computer (it costs money to buy but has more features). If you have the desktop version, you can wage word wars on others, which is a sure-fire way to get lots written. Let me know if you have it; maybe we can battle some time?

8. Feeling eye-strain from so many hours staring at the computer screen? Download F.lux software for free to make the screen glare easier on your eyes. Also, follow these tips.


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