Indie Author Weekly

145: Writing experiment of 4,000 words/day for a full week

May 02, 2023 Sagan Morrow Episode 146
Indie Author Weekly
145: Writing experiment of 4,000 words/day for a full week
Show Notes Transcript

All about a new writing experiment I’m testing out to make a lot better progress with my novels! We discuss…

  • Why I’m doing this new experiment, what my schedule will look like, how I plan to make it happen, and my expected results with writing for a larger, dedicated period of time
  • 2 reasons why I’ve been struggling with writing, and the problem that can come up with trying to find time to write novels (including feelings of guilt and concerns that it’s “self-indulgent”)
  • The deep sense of relief and fulfillment I had when I finally got around to writing my book after procrastinating on it all day long (and how this is a really good reminder!)
  • “I should be working on other parts of my business” — how this is a very real problem for business owners, and the way that this actually has a NEGATIVE effect on your business! More on this (including the top 3 questions to ask yourself if this is a struggle for you) in the “How to Balance Passion and Profession” video on my solopreneur tips YouTube channel: 
  • Difference between writing for a specific amount of time vs writing a specific amount of words (and how focusing on one vs the other will be more useful in different circumstances)
  • How I had an initial plan to write 2,000 words/day for a week, but having other tasks on my plate completely threw me off — and specifically WHY this was such a problem for me (this is what led me to decide to do the 4,000 words/day book writing challenge for a full week)
  • Why you should ALWAYS pay attention to any stagnation or “stuckness” that arises — keep in mind that just because a strategy used to work for you, doesn’t mean it always will continue working! 

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Hello and welcome to the indie author weekly podcast, where you get to hear about the behind the scenes journey of my adventures as an indie author. I'm your host Sagan Morrow. And since 2016, I have written and published seven rom coms and the polyamorous passion series, plus several business books for solopreneurs. Now today I want to share with you about an experiment I am testing out to make good progress with my book writing. So right now one of the manuscripts that I'm working on is book eight in the polyamorous passion series. And I'm about halfway through the first draft. I've written somewhere over 20,000 words for it. Most of all of the books in this particular series, the polyamorous passion series are shorter novels. Some of them are like legit novellas. Others are like just under the, the threshold for being considered, you know, a full length novel. So this book, book eight will be about I'm guessing 45,000 words long, and so I'm about halfway through it. And what I found is I have been having some challenges with making good progress on it specifically one of the things that I had been planning to do at the start of this year, was to write for about half an hour a day, every single day, starting my morning with book writing. This got derailed and I'm going to explain a little bit more about that. A little bit later on in this episode. But what I decided to do instead my experiment here, because I was kind of became derailed with it. My experiment is to spend two weeks doing nothing but working on my novel. So this will be working on it. And writing, having the goal of writing 4000 words a day, for two weeks, which is a lot. But I think that this can work really, really well. So these won't be two, two weeks in a row. It will be one week and then a week off and then another week of doing it. And the reason for this is that my business is actually set up so that I have all of my coaching calls, meetings, appointments, things like that. I try to do all of them over the course of a single week and then having the next week, nothing on my schedule, nothing on my calendar. My calendar is completely wide open specifically so that I can do things behind the scenes or you know, work on my novels, things like that. And then the second and then that like sort of kind of like week, three of a month might be again, a lot more meetings and coaching calls and things like that, and then the fourth week would again be wide open. So that's kind of how I structure my schedule where it is kind of these alternating weeks. So two weeks a month alternating are wide open. There's absolutely nothing on my calendar. And then the other two weeks are where I have coaching calls and meetings and appointments. Earlier this year. I have been having these delightful experiences with going traveling and seeing family and that kind of thing, which has been great. And it's also been happening on those alternate weeks in between coaching calls and meetings. So because of that I haven't used that kind of space for book writing. But for the month of May I actually I have this opportunity to spend a huge chunk of time just working on my books in between these coaching call weeks and things like that. So that is kind of that is basically my plan. That is how I'm making this happen. That's kind of how it is possible for me to spend so much time devoted to working on my novel. And because of this working, writing 4000 words a day for five days in a row and then a week off and then that sort of same schedule of 4000 words a day for five days in a row. That will get me to finishing that first. full draft of book eight in the polyamorous passion series, which I am really really excited for. I also feel like the first day that I'm doing this right so the the first day of it will be one of those things where I will be spending a lot of time going back through my previous seven novels and making notes for myself and plans for the book and kind of like reacquainting myself with the characters before I really dive in. So we'll see we'll see if I can hit that target of 4000 words a day or two weeks. I'm really excited about this. I think this is going to be really great. So one of the things that I have found, while I've kind of been struggling with consistent writing, you know I had mentioned earlier today in this episode that I wanted to at the beginning of this year write every single day at the kind of like in the morning, right? And one of the reasons why this has been a big problem is actually there's there's two reasons there's two reasons why I've been kind of struggling with starting my morning out just with writing and then carry on carrying on with my day. The first thing is that I feel like there's this problem with feeling guilty about writing. Like it is self indulgent. Can you relate to this? If you are a writer or any other creative, right? I think that you can probably relate to this feeling of some of that kind of guilt that kind of kind of creep in this sort of self indulgent sort of piece that kind of comes in. And I feel like this is partly because I actually worry that I will get so consumed with my writing that I will neglect everything else. And you know a yes, it's true that I can get very tunnel vision and very consumed with creative writing projects. But B it isn't true that I will neglect everything else as a result. And see, I can create structures for preventative measures to ensure that neglect does not happen by you know setting signup timers and that kind of thing. So, there's a lot of moving pieces there right if we have that kind of guilt, then we need to recognize what is true about this, what is not true and how can I mitigate this or manage it and that kind of thing. So for me this idea of being able to spend a week of being able to just write and not have to think about other things, not be distracted by them that makes so much sense for my brain space and my capacity and my sort of style and approach to different things. I also want to note that, you know, I taken some time off from writing book eight, and when I got back into it, you know, I was I was telling myself every single day for many days in a row. Okay, Sagan today we're supposed to sit down start our day with writing this book. And I would put it off right I would get distracted by something else. I'd be thinking about my business, other aspects of my business and I think you know what, I should really do this first. And I kept on putting it off. And then I even had it on my schedule where I was like, Okay, I don't really need to do these other things like I'll still put them on my days worth of tasks. I don't really need to do them. They're not like super important and I was still moving book writing to the end of the day. And I was like what is going on here? This is so interesting. I kept on procrastinating on it. I kept on putting it off. And when I finally sat down and looked at my books and began working more on book eight. I cannot tell you the deep sense of relief and fulfillment that came over me. When I actually sat down to work on my novel. I've been procrastinating on it for days and this particular date all day long, right? I kept on just saying like, Okay, I was going to work on this today but like maybe I should do these other things versus other things that had were not necessary. There were like administrative tasks that I could have not done them for the next five months and it would not have been a big deal right but I kept on putting off and when I finally got around to it. At the end of the day recently. It was just this total sense of of relief and fulfillment and like just a joy, a very calm sort of joy and again relief that came over me when I finally sat down to work on my book, which I think is very beautiful.
That that was kind of the reaction. And I think oftentimes when it comes to our creative processes, and our creative projects, we put them off because again there's that kind of like guilt or the worry that it's self indulgent or anything like this. But in actuality it is what makes us feel so good. It is what brings us joy and it actually fills our cup and makes us it increases our capacity and our bandwidth to do so many other things. So that's a really, really important piece to kind of keep in mind when you're having those kinds of feelings and distractions that kind of come up for you. Now, the other side of this is that sometimes we have this whole concept especially when we're business owners, where we're thinking I should be working on other parts of my business that are making me money. Right. This is something that I have dealt with many times over the years. I think this is highly relatable if you have your own business, you're constantly in a state of wanting to make sure that you can pay your bills, right, all of that kind of thing. And especially if you are not making the sales that you want to be making, right so if you are in the middle of a launch and it's not going the way that you'd hoped or you you assumed it seems like some sales might be coming through and for whatever reason they haven't come through yet. You might be getting some nervousness or anxiety or concerns around marketing and sales. And in that case, what you might think is okay, I just need to work harder on marketing and sales. And I cannot do anything else right now. Right? I'll work on my passion projects, when I've gotten when I've made X sales. And that's a real problem because when we focus on Okay, I'll do that after I make a certain number of sales. We're probably just going to continue to to increase that. So once you've made however many sales you're probably going to say, Okay, well now I'm just going to make this many sales and then I can do my passion project, or the other side of the equation, especially if you're doing one on one client work. You might say okay, after I've got this many clients, then I'll get back to my passion project. But once you get that many clients suddenly all of your time is devoted to working with your clients and your passion project is still on the backburner, right. So these these things that might come up for you these concerns about your business, these distractions, these guilt, all of these different pieces are really getting in your way from being able to make good progress on your passion projects. And you're probably setting in place these sorts of markers that are not actually helpful, right? It's not really helpful to think about. As soon as I make X sales, then I'll be good. Instead you kind of want to be looking at okay, what are my efforts like? What are my strategies like Have I done everything that I can all of these types of things. So I do have a video on my solopreneur tips YouTube channel where I share the top three questions to ask yourself when you are taking the time for doing passion projects as a business owner, to be able to to have the right headspace capacity bandwidth, to be able to work on your hobbies to work on your passion projects. So I will share the link to that video in the show notes because it has a really good approach to take if you're kind of in this position. So overcoming those problems is very, very important. Right? That problem of, you know, feeling guilty about things about your writing your passion project and also feeling distracted or like, oh, I should be working on these other things. It's really, really important to actually address those issues and work through them. I would 100% Recommend coaching to work through those feelings and those thought patterns if you are struggling with these types of things, but you still want to carve out space for your passion projects. So if you are feeling any of those things, if you're thinking those things experiencing them, coaching can absolutely help you you can book your spot at Sagan And I will post the link in the show notes. So that's kind of the mindset sort of side of it, but what about the strategy side of it? Right? The how of making progress with your writing. So what I kind of found you know, with this whole idea that I had earlier this year where I wanted to work on my books every single day. What I had planned was I think it was like a half an hour of writing. That was how much I wanted to do every single day rather than a specific word count. This is something that's very, very important to take into consideration right, because these are different things, the amount of time you spend doing something versus the amount of words. So what I have found is that spending a certain amount of time whether it's a half an hour or three hours, whatever it might be, that works really well when I am not writing in a linear fashion. So I mentioned this on a previous episode here on indie author weekly the way that I sort of approached my writing and when I am at the very beginning stages of a book I will write little screen snippets right here in there. And that's really great. If I'm telling myself Okay, Sagan, you're starting your day with 30 minutes of writing go, right. I can focus on a very specific scene. But my problem with that is that I can't really, I can't get really deep into the groove of writing that way, right? I can't really write out a full chapter that way in a linear fashion. If I'm doing it based on a specified time period. For some reason, my brain just doesn't like it. So the other kind of way of approaching it with having reading X amount of words. I find that that works really great when I am fully focused on the book, right? So this is going to work very well for me when I am writing 4000 words a day as my goal because I have nothing else on that whole day. It is just about hitting that word count. Now having a specific word count I have found is way harder when I have other tasks planned for that day. So I experimented a couple of weeks ago with writing my plan was okay, I'm gonna write 2000 words a day, every day this week, but I had a bunch of other things on my task list. And I found that my brain could not do it. I was thinking about the other things on my task list. I was worried about, okay, how am I doing for time? Right. So then I was writing a bunch of words I was writing bad scenes, like, like to be perfectly honest, my writing was not good. And I genuinely do not believe that when I am writing. I do not think that my writing is bad. Even if it's a first draft. I don't believe that. But I could feel it a couple of weeks ago when I was trying to do it as a 2000 words day I was just trying to hit that word count as fast as possible. And I was as I was writing, I was like wow, Sagan, this is not good. We're gonna have to delete this. We're gonna have to get rid of this whole this whole section because it's just not good. You're just writing for the sake of writing. Not because this is an actual like you're taking the time to really properly think it through and everything like that. So as a result now I know that it is way too distracting for me to have a specific word count as the goal for the day if I have a bunch of other tasks on my plate, right because I'm keeping my eye on the clock. I'm unable to really get into the writing of it because I'm so focused on get that word count finished, you know, so it really took away from the quality of the words themselves is what I found here. So again, that is why I decided that I really need to dedicate full days to only doing this to only writing my book, so that I can just be that much more able to really focus fully on it. Right. So that is what has led me to this concept of doing 4000 words a day. I did consider doing it as just a one day sort of event to kind of test it out. That was my initial plan. I was thinking you know what, I'm just gonna take one day trial before 1000 words, see how it goes. But I decided I was like, You know what, I think that it could still be really easy for me to get in my own head about it. If I try to only do it for one day. I think it would be way too easy to get into my head about it and then get distracted by other things. So I decided I need to do it on a larger scale to really get fully immersed in it. And this works out perfectly again because of the way that my schedule is structured because of the because of my entire business model. I have these two weeks completely open for the month of like in inside the month of May where I can actually test this out. So I'm I'm really excited to test this out and I'm so looking forward to finishing my first full draft of book eight. It's going to be it's going to be so good. So good. I also want to specify here I want to clarify that. Neither the amount of time that you spend writing nor the word count the amount of words neither one of these is better. Or worse. Okay. I like using both variations, depending on the circumstance, right? So sometimes in some scenarios, focusing on a timeframe where it's like, okay, we're sitting down and we're just writing for half an hour and seeing what comes out. Sometimes that works. Perfect for me. Other times having that specified word count. We are sitting down writing 1000 words right now go. Sometimes that works better.
For me. It depends on the circumstance. It depends on how far along I am in a book. It depends on what draft I'm working on for a given book, right. So there's a lot of different factors at play, focusing on either your word count or a time allotment for working on your book. Neither one of these is better or worse than the other. And you might find just like I have found that both versions will work. work well for you. It just depends on the scenario, right. So this is also why paying attention to your obstacles and paying attention to any stagnation when it arises is really, really important. Just because a strategy works for you in some scenarios, doesn't mean that it's right for you in every scenario. So there was a time earlier this year when working on my novel for half an hour day worked great. It was awesome. It worked so well for me. And then I hit that that sort of tipping point where it was no longer working. And that's when the shift has to happen. And you want to be able to identify that kind of shift. You want to be able to identify those internal bottlenecks and that kind of thing, so that you can then shift your strategies accordingly. Because otherwise you're gonna be beating your head against the wall. Right, you're gonna be coming up against it, you're gonna be really stuck and you're going to be very frustrated and wondering, why is this not working? For me? It was just working for me a couple of months ago, right? There are reasons why it's not working. And once you really understand exactly what's going on, then you can identify the best strategies to kind of like pivot things and keep moving forward. And again, if you want help working through this type of stuff, we can totally do a live coaching session on that. Just visit Sagan To book your spot. So there you have it. That's an overview of my current experiment that I'm testing out with writing my book, over over the chunk over a larger sort of chunk of time that is distraction free, right. I will do updates. I'll do another episode sort of after I've gone through the first week to let you know how it went. What worked what didn't work, any sort of changes that I want to make and then I'll probably do a third episode on this like a part three episode as well after I've done the second week to to let you know how it all went. Okay, so if you have any additional questions about this topic, anything that you would like me to address in parts two and three of this of this kind of concept, this episode of experimenting with book writing, or if you have any other topic that you'd like me to address here on indie author weekly. I would love to know about it. So please submit your topic ideas and your questions at Sagan That my friend is a wrap for today's episode of indie author weekly access for show notes for this episode, including all links and additional resources at Sagan And share your thoughts on this episode on Twitter or Instagram. My handle is at stake and lives. Please take two minutes to rate and review and do either weekly on Apple podcasts. Or if you are watching this episode on YouTube, subscribe to my channel and give this video a thumbs up. Thank you so much for tuning in. And I will see you next week for another episode of indie author weekly