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Author: CSW

How I Upped My Game and Blew the Roof off My Words Per Hour.

How I Upped My Game and Blew the Roof off My Words Per Hour.

When I started writing seriously three years ago, I thought it was a miracle that anyone would pay me for my work. I sold my first story to a magazine and they immediately asked me for another one! That was quite the vindication of my creative writing.

The novellas they were asking for were around twenty-thousand words. I could do one in about a month, take a few weeks off, then do another. It was a nice side income, but unless I could find a way to do more than one a month, there was no way I could write enough to make a living. Not at 500-700 words a day, anyways.

Over the following years, with hard work and practice, I was able to increase my daily average to about 1200 words. Mind you, these were solid words, and ones I liked. If I went further, I would always end up with writing that fell flat.

When I started With the Dawn a year ago June 1st, I assumed that 1200 words per day was my best. While I was drafting and outlining, I would occasionally have massive days, but they were more like storyboarding than writing prose. A drafting outline, as it were.

In September of last year, I began Blood Sacrifice, which is book 2 in Faith of the Fallen. I was still going at the same rate. It took me a little over two months to finish the first draft. I took a month off and started Book 3, which I’m still working on.

Other life events have forced me to pause or slow down my writing. Since I have a book on Kindle Scout, I started looking for a way to up my game. Writing two-to-three books a year wasn’t going to cut it. I’ve tried some methods of increasing my writing before, Rachel Aaron talks about her method of writing ten thousand words a day. I admire her greatly and thoroughly enjoyed her Eli Monpress books. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get her method to work for me.

You might have noticed my implication that I started book 3 in January, and you would be correct. Now it’s June. and I’m still working on it. What happened?

Well, I tried to outline.

Many authors who write a lot of words per day sing the virtues of outlining. I thought for sure that this was the way writers were supposed to write. Virtually all the authors I admired wrote to outlines. After several stalled attempts at book 3–and even getting to the point where, at 20,000 words in, I had to start over–I came to this realization:

I. Can’t. Outline.

It isn’t that I don’t know how, or that I’m not good at it. But when I outline, I’m not at all creative. All my ideas are low-hanging fruit. They sound great in my head, but when I actually start writing… zero excitement.

I’m what Gene Doucette calls a pantser. I have an intuitive grasp of storytelling, and when I write, I need only a vague notion of where I’m going. If I try to overthink it… *poof* creativity gone.

Which brings me to Chris Fox. Specifically his 21 Day Novel Writing Challenge. I didn’t write a book in twenty-one days. However, I watched him do it, and I realized two things. Like Rachel Aaron, he outlines everything. But, because he demonstrated his process in a video, I was able to watch, and it shed some light on my own process.

When I write, I always know where I’m going. If I get lost or stuck, it’s usually because I went the wrong way. I back the truck up–or in my case, the stylish crossover–and I go in a different direction.

I needed to find a way to do that, and write 3-5k words a day. Last Monday, I followed Chris’ advice. I set my alarm for five AM, something I haven’t done since I was in the Army, and went to bed.

When the alarm went off, I woke up and snuck out of the room so as not to wake my sleeping darling, got dressed, and went for a walk. Twice around our block is a half mile. Afterwards, I took a shower, blow dried my hair, sat down at my desk and wrote.

In the past, I would write for about four hours and get in about 1200 words–total–on average. On Monday, I wrote for one hour and cleared 2,500 words. On Tuesday, I wrote even more. This morning I hit 3200 words.

What am I doing differently? For one, the mornings have always been my most productive. Even when I had to get up and punch a clock, I always resented my employers for getting my best hours.

The other thing is the biggie: sprints.

Instead of staring at the screen for four hours, I would spend ten minutes thinking about the very next thing I wanted to write–sort of like outlining, but restricted to only the next scene in the queue. Then I set a timer for twenty minutes, put on my writing music (right now it’s Twenty-One Pilots’ Tear in My Heart to get me started, before switching to mostly classical) and write.

Suddenly the timer beeps and I’m 700-800 words in. A five-minute break to grab some water and stretch my legs, then I’d sit back down to rinse and repeat. Four sprints later and I’m hitting 3200 words… by 9:00 A.M. Good words too. Words I’m proud of.

I know I can write, and I know I can write books people enjoy–the real question for me has always been “Can I write enough in a year to bring in a decent income?” Because to be perfectly honest, I desperately do not want to go back to working outside the home.

My Journey with Kindle Scout

My Journey with Kindle Scout

The idea of Kindle Scout is not only interesting, but unique in an industry that shuns change. Publishing stagnated for years until Amazon came along and shook things up. To an author like myself, who has sold short stories and novellas, but never a book, this is a godsend. You see, urban fantasy is a bit of a wasteland in the traditional world of publishing. Each publisher has two or three authors that write UF, and that’s it. Readers, however, want to read more than a few titles a year. This is the beauty of Amazon. They get out of the way of the writers and let them reach their readers.

I love writing, and for years I’ve been selling stories to magazines around the world. It was only last year that my best friend convinced me that if I could sell to magazines, I could cut out the middle man and sell for myself. Now, my first thought was to try and land a publishing contract, but the absurdity of trading one middle man for another almost made me laugh.

Kindle Scout is a trademark of Amazon.com.
Kindle Scout is a trademark of Amazon.com

Kindle Scout presents an opportunity for me to do two things: one, show off my work to people who’ve never heard of me (i.e. everyone but my friends and family). Two, regardless of whether Amazon selects me, this is a win, and all it cost me is a little time. Of course the dream is for Amazon to pick me up, but if they don’t, I anticipate this boosting my visibility enough to help my initial sales.

Ultimately, I won’t be able to make the final decision on if this was a good choice until it’s done. I hope in thirty days I can announce, in this same space, that I’m published.

With the Dawn is live on Scout!

With the Dawn is live on Scout!

I’m excited to announce my debut novel, With the Dawn, is now available to nominate on Kindle Scout. Kindle Scout is a fantastic program that allows new authors and old, a chance for visibility, and winning a slot (through merit) with the Kindle Scout imprint. I have thirty days to secure as many nominations as I can. In that time, if I receive enough, the editors at Kindle Scout will review my manuscript and I will have a chance to be published by Amazon’s imprint.   I see this as a win/win regardless of the outcome. Kindle Scout will give With the Dawn a lot of visibility along with the series, Faith of the Fallen, as a whole.  I love these characters and the world, and I am thrilled to share them with you all.  Thirty days from now I hope to announce that I’ve been published. Please share this campaign with as many friends as you can, and let them know about this exciting new urban fantasy. As a bonus for nominating me, if I succeed, you will receive a free copy of the book! Thank you for your time and support.

-Cassy

Nominate-Button

Alexi Creed needs to know who murdered her, and why. When she wakes up with no memory of her previous life, the only clue she has is a sudden, undeniable thirst for human blood. She finds allies in a mysterious witch with an enigmatic warning of the future, and a brooding werewolf in search of redemption. Together they must fight malevolent vampires, agents of the Arcanum, and the forces of darkness, if she is going to uncover her past and save the world from a night that will never end.

With the Dawn Submitted

With the Dawn Submitted

With the Dawn has been submitted to the Kindle Scout program! It will be available for nomination on the Amazon webpage on June 12, 2016!

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