The Advantage of Binge Writing

adult-2242164_640I always admired those author’s who post on FB “I wrote 6,000 words today.” Amazement overtakes me when they announced 10,000 or more a day. Not sure how long they qualify as a day. Was it 5 hours or 20 hours? Either way, I’m impressed. After all our goal as novelists is to get as many words out there for our readers as soon as possible. I’ve mentioned before writer’s words are their product for sale. We need to create more product.

I attended a class at Write to Publish a few weeks ago conducted by Cyle Young, an agent for Hartline Literary and author who writes many words in a short period. His subject was binge writing. And his explanation is doable.

First, you need a timer. That can be a kitchen timer, tomato timer (you know the ones shaped like a tomato) or the timer on your phone. Set it for 30 minutes and write non-stop until the timer goes off. No editing or rewrites just get the words down. Then do a word count. If this is a new doc, the number appears at the bottom left of your screen. If it is part of your novel highlight the portion and those numbers will appear next to the total number on the bottom of your screen. If for some reason you have no word count showing automatically you can find word count in your pull-down menu. In Windows, it should be under the review tab. This will give you your starting point.

I’m a pantster so this was an interesting challenge. Because I wanted to feature this method on my blog today I needed to try it.  The ideal is to be in a place alone with no distractions That is rarely the case for me. You all know I’ve a house full of family and gave up my writing office for my grandchildren. While the kitchen was empty, I chose that as my writing spot. I sat at the kitchen table and set my timer. It wasn’t long before people filtered through the kitchen. My grandchildren attempted to interrupt me. But I soldiered on, my goal of 30 minutes in sight. No editing, no spellcheck and no rewriting.

I decided to work on a character I needed to flesh out in my WIP. Because I’ll be adding the scene to an existing chapter, I opened a new document and wrote 600 words in thirty minutes.  I didn’t have any more time that day to do consecutive writing, so I did another thirty minutes the next day. Cyle suggested challenging yourself with a new goal. One more word than you did earlier. So, my goal was 601 words.  I wrote 665 words. Surprised myself.  Perhaps writing after a short break my count might have been lower. Cyle’s plan is to write in thirty, forty-five or sixty minute increments and try to add more words each time.

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Between your timed writing segments, you need to walk away from your keyboard. Take five minutes to change the laundry around. Cyle demonstrated free standing squats. (Not going to happen.) I thought of doing stretches or picking up misplaced stuff off the floor. Whether you write in intervals of thirty minutes or two hours you need to step away from your work and do other things. While your hands are engaged in meal preparation, taking a long walk, doing pushups or mowing the lawn your mind is still on your project. By the time you get back to it you’ve figured out your problem plot twists and added layers to your characters. These breaks are important to maintain good health. Writers tend to get fat from too much sitting. We also develop knee, back and shoulder pain not to mention carpal tunnel. And constantly staring at a computer screen is bad for your eyes. The binge method serves to accomplish two goals: increase your word output and adding healthy habits to your workday.

The value of binge writing in meeting deadlines is priceless. If I complete my project well before the deadline it gives me lots of time to edit and polish my manuscript. How great is that?

Have any of you tried binge writing? What are some of the things you do when you take a break from the keyboard?

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