Indie Author Weekly

147: Results from my first attempt at the 4,000 words/day writing experiment

May 16, 2023 Sagan Morrow Episode 148
Indie Author Weekly
147: Results from my first attempt at the 4,000 words/day writing experiment
Show Notes Transcript

This episode gives you an update on the book writing experiment I recently tested! We discuss:

  • UPDATE on my book writing experiment that I told you about in Episode 145 of my Indie Author Weekly podcast (writing 4,000 words/day for a full week, and not doing any other business tasks)
  • How I prepped for writing the actual book itself
  • Daily breakdown of how that first week of the experiment went
  • 3 reasons why I decided to go back to the drawing board with my book
  • An important reminder we can all keep in mind when it comes to prioritizing our creative pursuits
  • Navigating mindset drama when allowing ourselves to work on creative projects and outlets
  • Was this experiment a success? Overview of results and what I learned from this experience, plus what I’ll be doing next…

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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 I'm the author of seven rom coms and the polyamorous passion series, plus several business books for solopreneurs. As I shared about in episode 145 of this indie author weekly podcast, I want you to test out a book writing experiment. In that episode, I gave you the backstory about the specifics around why I wanted to do this particular book writing experiment and what it would look like. And I did the first part of the experiment so in this episode, I wanted to give you an update of how it went. So again, I recommend that you tune into Episode 145 to get all the full details. But just a quick overview of the concept was to write 4000 words a day of my next novel over the course of a single week. So basically setting aside a full week away from the rest of my business. In my other in the rest of my business. I'm a life coach and a productivity strategist for solopreneurs. So I was taking a full week off from doing that so I could focus solely on working on my next novel. So this is book eight in the polyamorous passion series. It is the sequel to her bad idea. Just look seven in the polyamorous passion series. It is the next installation of scarlet story in that series. So the concept was to write 4000 words a day for one full week of book eight in the series. So let's go through what how this experiment went for me over the course of the five days that I had mapped out to do this because it was you know, a full week of it but weekdays I take weekends off working. Alright, so day one wasn't Monday, and it ended up not going as planned right from the start. So my spouse Mr. Science, unfortunately wasn't feeling well. So he worked from home. He wasn't he wasn't feeling terrible. He just didn't want to get everybody he did not spread his germs. Right. So you don't wanna go to the office and potentially be contagious for other people. So he worked from home, and that really threw me off. So he has a lot of meetings with the type of work that he does. He's on the phone pretty much constantly, and our offices, our desks, are right next to one another. So as a result, you know, there's lots of noise. There's lots of you know, him being on these calls and things like that. And I find it very difficult when he is working from home to really do a lot of creative type of work. I tend to typically do more sort of administrative types of pieces or things that don't require as much sort of brainpower those are the types of activities I typically do when he is working from home. So it's kind of threw me off when he was working from home and I supposed to do creative work. I will need a plan I think to work from a coffee shop in the future if this type of thing happens again, where I am working from home and working on a book and he also happens to be working from home, I think only designed to work in the coffee shop. For some reason if I'm in a coffee shop, he has a very different feel to it where the noise don't distract me. But when he's at home working next to me that is somehow it's more distracting for me. I don't know why that's just the way it is. So that is something that I'll probably end up exploring in the future and now that I know that will be the plan that might make things easier. Part of the reason why I did not do that in this particular scenario is because that first day day one of this book rain experiment, I had already planned to be going through various books in my series, the previous ones, what's one to seven in the series, and kind of getting reacquainted with the characters and that kind of thing. And so if I'm doing that and it feels like a lot of effort to cart my books with me to a coffee shop, I like being able to use my external monitors for you know, jotting down notes and things like that. So it isn't really conducive for working in a coffee shop. So what I ended up doing for a while I did not write any words for the book for bouquet, but I skimmed through the first three books in the series got kind of a feel for it again, and otherwise Did you know general administrative tasks and my business so that was day one did not go as planned. did not hit 4000 words a day did not even get to one word that day. Day two, I finished skimming through the rest of the books in a series of books four to seven. And I decided Alright, time to dive right in. So I wrote 1947 words. I finished chapter two of the book. I'd already previously written chapter one. So I was like alright, this is not again, it's not at the 4000 word mark. But okay, I almost almost got halfway there. That's good, making progress getting back on track. Day three, I really wanted to stretch myself and push myself and achieve that, you know, 4000 words minimum, and I ended up actually writing 7208 words. However, half of this had actually already been written in my notes and scenes document which I've shared about in a previous episode on the podcast. I think that maybe one or one or two or three episodes was one of the recent episodes I shared about how I the kind of the logistics of how I write my books, how I go about planning them. So I would recommend that you tune into that. Let me actually check what that was. Well, that was episode 144, Episode 144, all about how you write your books. That is when I shared all about how the notes and scenes document works. So I had already written a good chunk of the chapters that I was working on for this particular day day three Wednesday, and therefore I could just kind of copy and paste it into my core manuscript, so it ended up accounting for over 7000 words in that day. I'm pretty pleased with that. It's like this is great. Then we got today for Thursday, and here is where I managed to write 220 words, but it felt like pulling teeth. It was a slog. And what was kind of happening is you know, I was going through and I was looking at the type of thing that I want to be reading and for some reason, the chapter outline that I kind of like briefly mapped out for myself. It just wasn't vibing it wasn't really resonating with me. And what ended up happening is I realized that I needed to completely overhaul some things I need to really change some things. So there was three kind of reasons for why this was happening. Number one, I found that I was reading the same conversation multiple times. So I'm writing this book and I realized that the characters were having the same conversation in multiple areas and multiple ways and it wasn't furthering the story. It was just them having a conversation and then move on to the next scene and then a couple scenes later, suddenly they were like back having that same sort of conversation again, and it was not moving the plot forward. And what sort of happened here is that previously when I wrote up my notes and scenes document, as I've been sort of adding little bits and pieces over many months now, I didn't even realize that I was writing very similar sorts of scenes in different ways. So it kept on popping up again and again. And so I didn't want that to keep on happening. I want the book to be much tighter than that. So that was one of the problems. Problem number two that I realized on this particular day is I wasn't in my main character's head enough. So Scarlet is the main character for books seven and eight of the polyamorous question series. And there was something off while I was writing this, this manuscript, this first draft of the manuscript over the course of this week. I was it was something off with that. And it wasn't really connecting with her with Scarlett, I wasn't in her head and her genuine personality wasn't coming through. I felt kind of like I was making her up as I went along. And I talked about the type of thing in a previous episode of the podcast as well recently, but really, you know, when I'm writing books, I feel like my characters are are speaking to me. They are telling me the story. I can see them doing things in my head, I can see what they're doing. I don't always know why they're doing something versus another. Sometimes things seem out of character for them, but it makes sense down the line. But in this particular case, I wasn't I felt like I was just making up what Scarlett was doing or how she was thinking or feeling. I didn't feel like she was telling me or showing me how she was thinking or feeling. And that's a big problem. So I really wasn't in her head enough. I wasn't, I wasn't I just wasn't enough enough. So that's the second problem. The third problem that I realized on this particular day was that the story that I was writing did not have the right vibe or the tone that I wanted it to be. These are romantic comedy novels in my polyamorous passion series. And the humor has really developed as the books have continued. I really wanted it to have that humorous sort of angle, but what I was finding is that the book I was writing was much more angsty, and it was angsty in kind of like a whiny, overly neurotic sort of way rather than in a comedic witty way. I didn't like that. I kind of realized you know, okay, I've written however many words, it's now been for this novel, and the tone is not what I want from it. So, this was a sticking point for me when I've noticed I was having these three problems. It occurred to me that I could not just keep on trying to force myself to write this book. I needed to go back to the drawing board with it. Because if I continued on that path then I would write a book that wasn't what I wanted, and it wouldn't be sincere or genuine because I wasn't even in my character's head. So at that point, again, we're still on day four here, right? There's this is this was a Thursday, I started going back through the books in the series much more slowly. My first sort of issue that I wanted to address was reconnecting with Scarlett with the main character. So I went back through the previous seven books in the polyamorous question series. Every single page I went page by page is what I started going through, and I began writing out very detailed character notes. So these were things that were not already in my series character Bible, right. So I've had a character Bible right from the start of writing these novels. But I didn't include super detailed lists. It was more of a broad overview. And I think that that's because previously when I worked on this series, I wrote the books much faster. So everything was really fresh in my head. I think I wrote the first. The first four novels in the series were written over the course of a single year and published over the course of a single year, and it has now been three years since I last published a book in a series. So because of that, the character is on my farm fresh my head and I need to go back and see these little minut details. Like in one of the books, one of the characters one of the three main characters, it's observed by someone else how she jokes about caffeine, but she actually can only handle one cup of coffee a day. It's a very small detail that is important because it tells us a lot about that character, right? We have a lot that we can get from very small details. And we also want to ensure that as the story progresses over the course of multiple books, there is both a cohesion and a consistency between the characters. So this felt really important to go back through and actually write down very specific minut details. Another example one of my characters rides a bike at one point. Again, it seems like a small thing, but I wanted to keep that in mind because that tells us something about a character.
After I did that, after I started going through the books, I also revisited the themes of the book that I was writing. So for book eight, I was I kind of like took a step back and I was like, what is the what are the underlying themes that I want to be really present in this novel? So I mapped those out. And then I mapped out the three parallel plotlines happening in the manuscript that incorporate the two major themes of the book. So there's three major plot lines that are happening in book eight, this book that I'm writing, and I wanted to ensure that the themes of the novel were underpinning each of those lines. And I'll share more about this in a future episode, by the way, how those parallel plot lines look and what the beams look like in this book. So that was day four. It was really about taking this big step back, going back to the drawing board, figuring out big picture what I want for this book. And then day five, the Friday, that is when I took all of those broad concepts and ideas, and that's when I mapped out full chapter outlines. So really looking at absolutely everything that happens in each of the 12 chapters that make up the novel. I organize the parallel plot lines into specific scenes for how they would play out in each chapter. And then I also added additional sub plot scenes for those 12 chapters. So I knocked out all the different seats. As I was going through this, you know, this this week, that did not turn out the way that I had planned or expected at all. This really important reminder came up, which is that we should never punish ourselves by not letting ourselves enjoy our passion projects and our creative outlets. If you are not, if you are not allowing yourself to do that, because you think that you need to focus on revenue generating tasks in your business. For example, if you're a solopreneur, then you're basically punishing yourself and you are treating your creativity very poorly. So in this instance, I took a full week off from business tasks in order to work on my novel. And what's interesting for me, what kind of came up for me is that there was something that there was some mindset drama, right? And what I find very fascinating is that mindset drama will come up for me when I'm taking time off from other facets of my business to do this type of creative work to work on my novels. Whereas I do not have the same type of mindset drama, if I am taking vacations with loved ones and that kind of thing. So I thought that that was really interesting that is kind of cropped up a little bit for me, it kind of became very apparent that this has been sort of an underlying piece that I that I've experienced and this really connects back to a lot of energy management and our capacity for working. Because if we are taking time off from working to vacation with loved ones, right then that is that is a decision that we are making and it is time away from work, but taking time away from work in order to prioritize our passion projects and our creative outlets in that case, you are basically redirecting your brain power and your capacity and your bandwidth for doing work. You're redirecting it away from other aspects of your professional life, so that you can focus on and prioritize those creative outlets and that can feel challenging, right that can really bring up a lot of stuff. So this was a really nice thing for me to kind of connect with over the course of the week and ground myself in and be okay but this this felt really good to be able to connect with my creative outlets and to not have you know, a ton of stuff rising to the top and and causing me to then just run back to the other aspects of my business. And you know, I also want to note here that even though anti hustle productivity and energy management and mindset coaching is what I literally do for a living. This stuff can still sneak in this stuff can be really insidious, this stuff affects all of us. So it's good to have that reminder and connected back to you know, the feelings and the concepts that it is okay. To prioritize the joy of creative outlets, it is safe to do so. It is safe to do so. And again. We all experienced this type of mindset drama is what we do with it, how we handle it. That is what's really important because it will arise it simply will it will come up for you. So then it's a matter of how do we want to handle it. How are we going to navigate it? How are we going to preemptively plan for it? All of those types of pieces. And if you want to book a live coaching session with me if you want help with that type of thing to work through that you can actually do that. Book your spot at Sagan And I'll share that link in the show notes. So there we have it. That was the first week of writing 4000 words a day book experiment. Now, was that week a success was that book, experiment a success? Well, I did not meet my word count goal. However, I am calling it a success. And here's mine. When I realized that my book was not going in the direction that I wanted it to I could have forced myself to stick to a plan. I could have said to myself, you know, once again, you committed to writing 4000 words a day for a full week. So you're just going to do it you're just gonna plow through and do it. But if I had done that, I would have been doing that just for the sake of sticking to the plan. And it would have been a waste of my time. Because I was I was writing a book I didn't want to be writing the book that I was writing the tone that I was writing all those types of pieces was not coming out the way that I wanted it to. So doing it for the sake of it was not a good enough reason to keep that commitment of writing 4000 words a day. And I also didn't need to prove anything to myself because I have written books in the past very quickly. I have you know, done National Novel Writing Month now. Now right now I successfully completed it. I wrote the first book in the polyamorous question series I wrote and published it within a time period of only six weeks. So I know that I'm fully capable of doing those types of things. I did not need to prove anything to myself. The entire purpose of this book writing experiment was to make a good progress on my novel and commit to making good progress with it. And that is what happened. So I learned so much about what I want from this book, and I am so much happier with what I have now which is much more concrete in depth plans for the manuscript so in that sense, this book writing experiment was a complete success. And it's always really good to take that sort of step back and really understand what is the purpose for doing this particular type of book writing experiment or any type of experiment in life or in business? If I had been doing it because I wanted to see if I could write 4000 words in a day. That would be different in that case, I might have pushed through. I might have pushed through, perhaps, but that wasn't the purpose of it. The purpose of this experiment was to make really good progress with my manuscript, and I did that. So I will be testing this out again. We're doing another 4000 words a day for a full week. As I mentioned in Episode 145, when I first talked about this experiment, I really wanted to do two full weeks of it, because then that would give me a complete first draft of the of the manuscript. So I will be doing another experiment of this with writing another 4000 words a day for a full week and I am confident that it will look much different as a result of having done this initial work and this type of preparation, especially because I will be rewriting and probably even copying and pasting some sections of what I already wrote. So all of it is very fresh in my head and I've already written a good chunk of the first few chapters. So I will be you know, taking a toll and that kind of thing, but I'll be able to just rewrite certain sections or you know, some some sections that I know that I'll be able to copy and paste because it is the right sort of tone, and it does have what I want for the novel. So in that sense, doing 4000 words a day should be significantly easier. So I'm really excited to see what comes out of it and I will definitely keep you posted about the results in an upcoming episode. If you have additional questions about this topic or any other topic that you'd like me to address here on the replay, I would love to hear about it. Please submit your topic ideas at Sagan That my friend is a wrap up for today's episode of indie author weekly access the show notes for this episode, including all links and additional resources at Sagan and share your thoughts about it on this episode. On Twitter or Instagram. My handle is at saving lives. Please take two minutes to rate and review in the author weekly on Apple podcasts. Or if you are watching this episode on YouTube, subscribe to my channel and give this video the thumbs up. Thank you so much for tuning in and I will see you next week for another episode of indie author weekly