Janice Hanna Thompson

Janice Hanna Thompson—a south Texas native—is the author of over sixty novels and non-fiction books for the Christian market. She supplements her fiction habit by writing magazine articles, devotions, write-for-hire books and more. One of the chief joys of Janice’s life is training writers to earn a living with the written word. Check out Janice’s “Becoming a Successful Freelance Writer,” course at www.freelancewritingcourses.com. The ten lessons in this course were developed to strategically train freelance writers to earn top dollar. Each lesson includes an audio file (mp3 for download), a corresponding audio script, a downloadable worksheet, a power point video, a bonus feature, and full access to the site’s forum. Email Janice at booksbyjanice[at]aol[dot]com to learn more, or visit her website at www.janicehannathompson.com.

Supplementing Your Fiction Habit

Double Your Word Count in Two Weeks

Novelists are not all cut from the same cloth. We enjoy different genres, different styles, even different points of view. Some like to plot, others write by the seats of their pants. Some approach work methodically, pondering, writing, and editing as they go. Still others race toward the goal, writing five, ten or even fifteen thousand words a day.

No, we’re not all alike, but we all have the same goal in mind: to write the best possible piece and get it into an editor’s capable hands. And we long to do this in a timely manner so that we can move on to the next piece. This is particularly important if we’re supplementing our fiction habit by writing articles and devotions. We have to use our time wisely to bring in that additional income.

Oh, I hear you saying, “Fast work is sloppy work.” Not necessarily. Some write best when under the gun. I tend to think my writing is “truer” when I’m in a hurry. No time to overthink as I go. What spills out, spills out . . . and it’s usually fresh and edgy.

So, how to increase daily word count? How can we zip-a-dee-doo-dah toward the goal so that we can sell more money-garnering pieces? Here are a few ideas to speed up the writing process:

1. Whether you’re working on your novel or supplemental nonfiction pieces, give yourself a deadline. If you’re not writing against an editor-induced deadline, give yourself a personal one. You might consider upping the ante a little bit by entering the book in a contest with a very real deadline or by promising your critique partners a certain number of chapters by the end of the week. These self-imposed deadlines become even more real when you write them down. Add them to your calendar and take them seriously. Ask a friend or critique partner to hold you accountable so that you won’t slack off over time.

2. Set a timer when you write. This sounds so simple, but it really works. Set a timer for an hour (or whatever length of time you have to write), and don’t get out of the chair, no matter what. Lately I’ve been timing myself to work in twenty-minute increments with a five to ten minute break in between. Because I struggle with autoimmune arthritis, I get up out of my chair and exercise for a few minutes during my break time, then go back to work. Exercise helps me physically, but it also energizes my thought processes and frees me to think more creatively about that next portion of the article or book.

3. Set word-count goals. Tell yourself that you’re not going to get up from the chair until you’ve written five hundred words (no matter how long it takes). You might not reach your goal, but chances are pretty good you’ll be a lot closer than if you’d never set the goal in the first place. And remember, those daily word-count goals really add up. Let’s say you’ve been writing a thousand words a day and you challenge yourself to write 1,250. Over a five-day period you’ve added 1,250 additional words to your work in progress. That’s nothing to sneeze at!

4. Write in strategic chunks of time. When I’m under the gun, I’ll write three times a day, setting a word goal of two thousand

words per sitting. For you, it might be five hundred words per sitting. Doesn’t matter. You will get more done if you tell yourself you can do it and if you divide your workday into segments (with a couple of hours of downtime in between).

5. Don’t edit as you go. I know, it’s tough not to! Turn off that internal editor and let the words flow. Write anything that comes to mind, even gibberish. It can be edited out later. If you really struggle with this, try closing your eyes to type. (Obviously this only works if you’ve memorized the keyboard.)

6. If you’re stuck, use word and phrase association. Look at the chapter you’ve just written and pull out words or phrases that refer to some future event. Maybe you’ve written that Susie has just learned she’s expecting a baby boy. Instead of pondering what comes next in the story, jump ahead and write the scene where Susie gives birth to her baby boy. Chances are pretty good that scene will pour out of you and will inspire you to write other future scenes.

7. Use writing prompts or other creative writing exercises. Consider a course on creativity. There’s nothing like stirring the imagination to speed up the process. A creative thinker is a creative writer. A creative writer is a zealous writer. A zealous writer reaches goals and earns money. (See how that works? Creative people are “freed up” to write faster because their minds are already active and engaged.)

Above all, value your writing time. Cherish it. Protect it. Don’t give in to the temptation to check your e-mail, browse Facebook, or video chat with a friend. Focus, focus, focus! Write, write, write. Then next month, you can look back over the distance you’ve traveled. I’d be willing to bet you’ll blow yourself away with how much faster you’re writing and how many more pieces you’re selling.

What are you waiting for? Stop reading this article and grab that timer. You’ve got work to do!