Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Writer's Wednesday - Gettin' Chunky

Today PHS editor Donna Alward reveals a new technique to expanding her word count rather than her waistline - Chunk Writing.

This spring has been manic.  I say that a lot, don't I!  Truth is, the last 2 years have been pretty hairy at one time or another.  This year alone sees five books release and like most writers, I have a house, yard, kids, pets...lots of other commitments.  And it's really easy to feel overwhelmed by it all and wonder how it's all going to get done.  Or to get to the end of the day and realize that yes, you got the laundry done so your kids won't walk around naked or you volunteered; you vacuumed up the dog hair balls or maybe made something other than frozen pizza for supper, but you didn't manage to get any writing done. It happens.  More often than I'd like.

This spring I hit rewrites.

Followed by an impossible deadline.

And I maybe came close to hyperventilating a time or two.

Well, thank goodness for critique partners (and PHS editors).  Through the month of April, Michelle Styles was telling me how she was writing in 750 word chunks.  The volume of writing she got done was amazing.  And when you're trying to juggle things, she said, it works really well.

So...when the rewrites went in, and I had to start my deadline book from scratch (don't ask), I thought it might be worth a try.

It's brilliant!  For however long it takes to do 750 words, there's no internet cheating.  No flipping to e-mail or twitter or amazon rankings (not that I do that, mind you).  750 words is a really doable amount.  As she said - 500 was too little, and 1000 could be too much.  But 750 is a nice number.  For me, it's about 4-5 pages depending on how dialogue heavy I am.

After 750 words, you do something else. Then you come back and do another 750.  And you do this 3-4 times a day.  Write your 750 and do some laundry.  Another 750 and vacuum the floors.  Or run out and get groceries.  Whatever is on your list, it comes after your chunk of 750.

I always go over what I wrote the previous day before I start, so in the morning, that's my warm up to get me "into" the story again.  And then off I go. I get my writing done AND I don't feel like the rest of my life is falling apart at the seams.  And if it's going well, I ride the wave a little longer.  Nothing is set in stone, except the 750 minimum.

Chunk writing is really working for me, so if you're stuck and trying to keep momentum going, or crazy busy and wondering how it's all going to get there, it might be worth a try.

Donna's next book is a reprint of HIRED: THE ITALIAN'S BRIDE in the anthology Mediterranean Men & Marriage, a Special Release from Mills and Boon coming in July.


  1. OMG This might be exactly what I need! Thanks Michelle and Donna. I'll let you know if it works

  2. UNlike Donna, I don't ride the wave. It is a strict 750 words and that is all. It means that if I am on a wave. I might take a shorter break. BUT I do take a break after 750 words.

    And when I am taking the break, I don't feel guilty.

  3. That's a brilliant idea, Michelle - thanks to Donna for passing it on. I'm starting today (honestly, I will!) and as I have a monthly meeting with my writing group this afternoon, I'll mention it there.

  4. This sounds really, really useful. Will give it a go!

  5. I don't *intentionally* ride the wave! Sometimes I just get into it and forget to check word count. Then when I check I find I've written 1000, or 1200...

    And then I take a break guilt-free.

    Last night I finished 100 words SHORT, but I also finished a scene and it was a really good place to stop. A 2150 word day, grocery shopping, lawn mowing and rhubarb freezing is a pretty full day. But it was what was on my list. I even sat down for an hour and finished a knitting project.

    It does make one feel productive. :-)

  6. Hmmm...this sounds like what I need too. I've been trying for a certain of day, "writing time", but that tends to get interrupted by people or my own distractions.

    I will give it a go. Thanks for the idea.

  7. That is a brillant idea Donna! I'm going to do that. I like the chunk idea and the break and then go back at it - if I can do that at least twice in a day I'll have a book in 6wks or just maybe my June nano of a 50,000 YA book.

  8. Chunk writing! I like it, Donna. It even sounds substantial but not too scary. Thanks for sharing.

  9. What a great idea! And it doesn't seem so overwhelming to do it this way either. I've been falling behind on my page count this month, so I'm going to give this method a whirl.

    I also like setting my oven timer for 30 min. or 1 hr and writing for that length of time, uninterrupted. Always amazes me how much I can write during this time.

  10. That's a really good idea, Donna! I might give that a try.

  11. I love this - and I also love then name Chunk Writing. It has a certain casual charm that doesn't intimidate. Thanks for posting about it.

  12. The idea appeals to me- gettin' chunky in a good way!