Meditative Monday: How To Not Write 4K+ Words A Day

Hey everybody, it’s Monday and it’s nice to finally be back for another Meditative Monday. Some unexpected issues turned up and I couldn’t get posts up as a result, but thankfully Meditative Monday is here and today is a topic that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a long time, but I was never sure how to go about it.

How do we get our word counts from measly 1k and 2k a day to numbers like 4k and above?

Now I had to do a lot of testing and experimentation for this post. I started with about 2000 words and brought my word count up 500 extra words daily for a while to see where exactly I fall. The max limit I hit seems to be 10500 words, but only if I followed a strict routine and only if I dedicated my entire day to it.

4k-5k I find is the comfortable zone where I can get enough done to feel productive, but also not feel like I murdered my brain. If you’ve been wanting to get more writing done, but don’t know how to go about it, stick around for a bit.

But there are some things that you just really don’t want to do like…

1. Not Understanding How You Work And What Traps You’ll Fall Into

Believe me, the more self-knowledge you have about yourself, the more efficient you can be.

For example, I know that I hate having my attention split between my computer and someone’s voice, so I fix this by writing with earphones or moving to another room whenever I can.

For a lot of people, shiny distractions like tv and social media are what’s costing them thousands of words. If you know that you can’t handle certain things in your environment or that you get distracted by certain things, don’t ignore this. Eliminate or reduce the distraction in whatever way that you can, if possible.

2. Failing To Outline

This mostly applies to those of us in the fiction writing business. And if you’re a panther, I know what you’re thinking…

“I don’t want to outline!”

I won’t say that you have to outline because all roads are valid in my book. I’m a pantser too and I hate outlining about as much as any other pantser. But unless you are extremely good at keeping things in your head and very good at plotting as you go along, you’ll have a really bad time once you cross into 3k+ territory.

Often, you’ll keep stopping and starting your flow because there’s stuff that you don’t know. For me, the 10k days were only possible because I knew everything I had to do and there was no wiggle room to sit there and wonder about it.

The other worry for us pantsers is that it takes the fun out of discovering things as we write. Individual circumstances aside, this fear can be worked around easily because your outline doesn’t have to be anything formal or super complicated.

I do my scene scans where I go over what happened in my last writing and plan what will happen in the current session, as well as note characters motives and sensory details, but really an outline could just be barebones phrases if you wanted. All it has to do is tell you what you think you’ll cover while writing. This way you don’t lose all of your enthusiasm and there’s enough wiggle room for you discover things along the way.

3. Starting With Too Much

Writing 10k sounds amazeballs, doesn’t it?

Actually writing 10k in a day does not feel amazeballs. And pulling a badass 10k out of nowhere is unrealistic.

Think about it like this, when you go to the gym, you don’t grab the heaviest weights you see. You also shouldn’t grab the weights that don’t challenge your muscles. You grab the weights that are appropriate for your strength and then you build up to lift more.

Like I said before, I started at around 2k and built up to the 10k by adding 500 words at a time, but I went back down to what was the most comfortable for me.

Starting small doesn’t sound glamorous I know, but high word counts are more about endurance and not about really about how fast you type.

4. Not Keeping Track Of How Much You Get Done

Ignorance is not bliss if you want to get writing done.

If you write down your writing times, your writing locations, and how much you write, you realize just how much time gets eaten in distractions and small side tasks that we usually don’t think about.

For example, I realized that I’d start strong with 1000 words or so in a short amount of time, but then I’d take breaks that go on for hours which hurt my goals and made me work longer than I had to!

Conclusion

There’s so many more tips that I’d like to give, but in my opinion, the best resource I’ve found on the subject was Rachel Aaron’s 2000-10000. If I think of more tips, I may do a part 2, but until then…

Get back in that water!

Meditative Monday: Everything I’d Do Differently If I Had To Start My Writing Journey All Over Again (Part 5)

Oh ho ho! It’s yet another Meditative Monday which means there’s even more fun to be had, especially if you recognize today’s featured image. But let’s not dilly-dally or shilly-shally.

To the meat!

 

To Never…And I Mean NEVER Give Up On Drawing

For two reasons…

One, drawing is not something that you just abandon and pick up where you left off. You have to recover your hand-eye coordination. The more of a beginner you are, the worse this hits you because you have to fight your hand and lack of knowledge at the same time.

Two, drawing has helped me change the way I think about my writing and world building. I can visualize scenes and images a little stronger now. I make better decisions about characters and cultures. I think more about the small life-like details and how a world functions as a whole.

I’m a big fan of concept art and one of the things that I like about it so much is that it’s not just face rolling all over your graphics tablet. It involves research, iterations, and it’s very scientific and deliberate in the way you approach a subject.

One of my side dreams is to make a concept art book for my novels some day and to be able to express all of my ideas in multiple mediums. Looking at other games like Zelda helps in this aspect too, I’m happy to say.

Talk Less…Do More

There is a reason why we say the road to hell is paved with good intentions people.

I actually didn’t understand what this meant for a long time as a kid. Only recently did this actually start to click in my head.

The thing is…most average Joe mean well. We want to do the right thing. We want to go to the gym. We want to finish that book. We like to think that our partners, friends, and family understand that we appreciate them without us saying it outright.

And that is the problem, the “thinking and wanting” we do in our head does not matter to other people, even if you do verbally express it. Talk is talk. You can intend all the good in the world, but if you do the wrong thing consistently, that is what you will be remembered for.

Some weeks ago, I started to take a look at myself and say, “Destine, what kind of person do you want to be?” Not achievement-wise. But character-wise.

I think that because I had to unlearn many difficult and bad behaviors on my own, the power of being able to forge my own character into what I want it to be is very important.

But one of the most important things for me nowadays is being the kind of person that lives by their actions.

Maybe I’ve just had the most unfortunate selection of friends, family, and environment (I hope this is the case) but the amount of people who follow through with what they say they’re going to do seems to be astronomically small. The upside to this, is that just taking action can do wonders to set you apart.

Because of this, I disregard table talk and only pay attention to what a person does. Sometimes I even disregard past achievements too. Harsh-sounding sure, but it’s a measure to separate people who are the real deal and consistently improve from the people who are okay with complacency. And the latter, I stay the hell away from.

Now I’ve heard some other people mention this too, but I find that talking about an idea too much sucks the fun out of it. To the point of me not wanting to do it.

Instead, I feel like I’d much rather just come out when something is done. And in my experience, I get taken a lot more seriously when I’ve already done something than if I just talk about doing it or if I’m in the middle of doing it. So I’d rather let actions speak whenever possible.

Play A Lot More Zelda And Savor It While I Can

I know what you’re probably thinking. Video games? Lazy mode!

Not exactly.

For one, regardless of whether I’ve watched someone play the games in a Let’s Play, or played the games myself, I can’t ignore fact that the Zelda series shaped the way I think about my books. Twilight Princess and Breath of the Wild especially.

But also remember, I approach things from my Art History perspective, and I have worked on games before, so when I look at art work or the characters, I don’t see what a layman gamer sees. I’ll marvel at the details in a game asset that you’ll probably never notice. I’ll gush over motif patterns and the cultural building. I’ll WTF at the historical inaccuracies and love them anyway. Seeing the Zelda team reiterate their world building always makes me a happy camper and it’s something that I want to bring into my own writing.

And not to mention, some storylines really hit me.

Majora’s Mask had the whole “world destruction in 3 days” concept going for it, but also the “putting lost souls to rest” aspect is very beautiful.

Wind Waker had the whole, “I just want to save my sister” part that was endearing.

Twilight Princess was all about “saving the kids” and fighting Zant, but of course you know…there’s Midna. A jackass she may be, but she’s a jackass with character development so I’m all for it.

Skyward Sword, though I curse the controls to hell, had the angle of a monster growing stronger and stronger and continually trying to break free while you’re scrambling to save the world.

In Breath of the Wild, the apocalypse has already hit and the world is trying to rebuild after their plan to fight evil went horribly wrong.

I always find myself silenced at some point because there’s so much about the games that words can’t express and thoughts are too stifling for. It’s a feeling that I hope I can pass onto my writing someday. Preferably everyday!

And never forget…

All the awesome freaking Zelda music.

So in honor of Zelda, I shall not end with telling you to get back in the water, but I will end with this insanely awesome Zelda song that just blows my mind.

 

Meditative Monday: Don’t Worry, You Are Making Progress

Hey everybody, it’s that time again to relax and chill with another Meditative Monday. And lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the time I’ve spent on this planet and the progress that I’ve been making in writing and art.

 

A problem that I run into a lot (and it’s common across lots of disciplines, not just art) is this issue of feeling like you’re not progressing fast enough or that you’re not making any at all.

I found that I tend to feel this way even if I did put in the correct work for a day. And it’s because my novel Vicissitude Yin Side is a freaking behemoth at a little it over 240,000 words and I’ve still got two and a half sections of this fatty to write.

Realizing The Importance Of Context In Progress

If this was my first novel, I would’ve been done with 60k to spare and I realized that the feeling of making progress is very based on context.

I’ve had days where I’ve written as little as a hundred words and I’ve felt great about it, and then I’ve had days when I’ve written 4,000k-5,000k and felt awful.

And you might be wondering why feel awful if you get that much work done? I found its because this idea of where we are in comparison to where we think that we should be.

For example, I decided to ramp my word count up to get through my scenes faster so I thought okay, 4500 is a decent amount that I can do without destroying my brain but get a little bit done on both of my WIPs.

But what I was doing in my head was saying, “Okay, I’ll get through this scene or this section today.”

Then I launch myself into it and low and behold, I throw all 4500 at my comp and boop, at the end of day, I could still be stuck in the same scene in a chapter.

I divide my chapters by 1-1 (1), 1-1 (2), and often times these things can go on to like 4 or 5 individual sections. So when you have 4k and 5k behemoths next to each other in one chapter, things get very sluggish really fast.

When things get slow, it can be hard to remember that we’re still putting in the same amount of work every day.

If it goes on long enough, we can sometimes feel like all of our hardworking isn’t going anywhere. And that can lead to feeling like you should give up or that the project isn’t fun because you’re doing the same thing over and over when you really want to move on. And feeling stuck all of the time sucks major crusty sphinx booty.

But there are two things that I’ve realized that helps when I’m going through a hard patch like this:

One: Being born guarantees us a certain amount of time here on earth.

If it takes you ten years to do something, those ten years will pass whether or not you practice actively. And if you horse around, your goals only get pushed further and further into the future. The amount of time something takes will not really change much if you put in the same effort.

So I thought, well if that’s true then I might as well keep doing it. And that leads into the second thing…

Two: Finishing/Reaching That Book Is A Given If You Keep Working On It

Unless, you know, you’re making an unfinishable book for some reason. But so many people give up on their drafts because they feel like they can’t finish it.

When I was a newbie, I was one of those people! I ditched drafts and skipped around because I felt that it was just impossible. I didn’t understand how to finish or end things (though I still struggle with the ends of chapters. 😦 )

When I finished the first draft of what is now Vicissitude Yang years ago, I was so happy. Granted it was a huuuuuuge stinker, but that didn’t matter. What mattered was that I finished something. I didn’t feel like some hack pretending to be a writer or some wannabe making excuses and thinking that they could cheese their way into success.

But it also made a light come on for me. Mind you it was a very vague, faulty light that probably couldn’t help me see shit. But I thought, “Huh. If I keep writing like this, I’ll get to the end.”

Fast forward to now: a whole novel is finished, and I’m hooked to finishing my writing projects and excited about the future (though still lamenting my broke butt struggling present).

So if there’s anything to take away from my long ramble-spree, it’s that to try not to think too much about how long something is taking and focus instead on putting in the work. Worrying about the deadline doesn’t help things actually get done (no matter how well meaning and logical it is).

So keep working at it! You will finish.

Meditative Monday: Everything I’d Do Differently If I Had To Start My Writing Journey Over Again (Part 4)

Never Shoot Lower Than My Potential

Underperforming not helpful. I’m not from the camp of thought that one should take baby steps when you are clearly capable of much more. As I decided to take the time to learn about myself I realized something really important.

One, it’s against my nature to underperform. Underperforming is a sign that I now recognize as something I do when I’m overwhelmed, or I don’t like something or if I don’t like someone, or if I’m just bored.

This would often happen when I hung out with friends or roommates and they wanted to do things at a slower pace or maybe start at lower levels than what I was used to. Of course, I still tried to accommodate them for politeness sake, but I always felt like a dog on a leash that’s way too tight. And deep down it never felt right at all.

Now, I understand that there’s a time and place to be patient with others, but I’ve learned that I’m very much a person that needs the space to reach and surpass my potential regardless of whether I intend to or not.

Though being the smartest or most talented person in the room might feel good for the ego sometimes, but to me, it’s definitely a sign that I’m in the wrong freaking room.

And this is something I wish I would’ve known about myself much earlier because it would’ve saved me a lot of wasted time with things that just weren’t right for me.

Understand Why I Do Things

Every time I revisit the reason why I write my novels, I get fired up not just in body but in spirit.

But if you would’ve asked me about why I write it at different times of my life, you’d probably get way different answers.

I think as a young middle schooler starting out, I wrote because I thought it would help me be noticed. In high school, I wrote because it helped me cope with the stress I was going through.

In my first two years of college, I think it was more about ego and trying to be the best. In my third year when I was depressed, it was very much about trying to find the reason why I should stay on this planet. But in my fourth year, it was about growing as a person and having loads of fun with my new freedom in writing.

And now?

I write because I have to.

Not in the paying bills sense or because any outside pressure. Inwardly, I feel like I just have to. If I don’t, I don’t feel right inside. It’s something that I think is hard to explain to the average person or even the average writer because I find people tend to shy away from extremes. Its too “heavy” for them.

I’d call it an obsession, but I feel that’s not quite it. I’m not obsessed with writing in the mad scientist way people think of obsession. It’s more like determination to focus on something through to the end, no matter what it takes or what it costs.

But even more importantly, I think a lot of the reason why some people have so much problems with writing is because they don’t know or understand themselves enough.

Some people have the best intentions to write, but really they just like the idea of writing something grand. Some people probably could write that book, but they don’t see that what’s stopping them isn’t the writing itself, it’s the fact that they make thousands of excuses for why they didn’t do it when they probably could’ve finished it in the time that they gave all those excuses.

But what I’ve found that if your why is strong enough, you’re not going to make up reasons why you can’t do it. You are going to find ways around those blocks you’re having.

And I know I probably sound like I’m beating dead horses around here, but really I don’t know any other way to put it.

I know a lot of people out there will say that writing is hard, but I find myself starting to disagree with this more and more. I think writing is simple. The only requirement for writing novels is that you have some semblance of a plot, characters, some realistic basis, and passing a certain word count. (But if you’re writing a draft, you don’t have to pay as much attention to these! :D) However, all that writing requires of you is to sit down and type one word after another until something is done.

The problems that occur outside of being physically unable to write at a certain moment are usually self-made from our expectations on how things should go in our story. I find these go away when you just relax and let the story just be the story.

More…?

I’m going to keep this one short since my schedule is getting tighter and tighter.

But until next post~

Get back in that water!

Meditative Monday: Decluttering The Mind With Morning Pages

Hey everybody, it’s Meditative Monday again and today I wanted to share something that I tried a while back and hopefully it might help some of you.

So today, we’re going to talk about Morning Pages.

The Barebones Basics

If you’re already familiar with freewriting, you’ll transition just fine. It is still writing everything that comes to mind, but you do it in the morning, preferably when you first wake up.

The twist is that you have to do three pages. It doesn’t matter if it takes you ten minutes or ten hours.

You do those three pages.

Now I often hear that people should do it by hand. Personally, I don’t like writing outside my Writing Sketchbook so I don’t write longhand. Morning Pages and freewriting is not for other people to see, so how you organize yourself and arrange to do this doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

What matters is that you have a way that works comfortably for you.

The Good, The Bad, And The Eh…

I haven’t really found much that’s awful about it besides the fact that when you begin, it’s hard to fill three pages. It was especially hard for me because I’m doing it on a computer and I’d rather not cheat and use big fonts or any cheap tricks of the sort.

But as far as the benefits, it’s still a helpful warm up. And its also very cleansing to get rid of the previous days thoughts. Think of it like a shower for your brain. It’s particularly helpful for helping me get into the mood for my real writing session.

Often times the hardest part for me when writing is getting started, but I often find that once I get ten minutes into it the block that I had just goes away and its easy to just keep going. And I find that this exercise is even more helpful if I’m starting on the blank page of a new scene or chapter.

For me, Morning Pages has replaced my normal freewriting set up, but as with anything I say here how much or how little you want to use this is up to you. But if you have experience with it or if it’s helped you in anyway, I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time!

Get back in that water!