December 4th, 2013

Write Like The Wind in Ten Easy Steps

vlt_publicityby Vicki Lewis Thompson

Thanks so much to Shar and Jenny for inviting me to guest blog today!  When you see the title of this blog, take into account that I’m a Libra, aka an air sign, so that’s probably why, instead of saying I write fast, I have to make the statement airy-fairy.  But since you’re Writers in the Storm, it fits, right?

But first a disclaimer about the title.  It’s not exactly true.  The steps may sound easy, but things can sometimes sound easy until you try to do them, right?  It works for me, though.

I’m on a 25 pages per day clip right now, not counting blog writing. Here’s how I do it: 

VLT_PageGoal1. I’m old school, so I write my specific page goal for the day on a piece of paper and put it on the fridge door.

It’s a constant reminder of where I need to be before I go to bed.

2. I set aside a period of time, two weeks if I’m lucky, and do my level best not to schedule anything during that time.

No hair, dentist, or doctor appointments, and definitely no lunch dates!  Yes, life can throw you a curve and tank the plan, but you have more control over your calendar than you might think.

3. I live alone, so I stock in the food I need. 
My goal is to shop for food as little as possible.  If you live with others who can cook or fetch food for you, enlist them.  Snack food you can eat at the computer is also helpful.

4. I keep my internet presence to a minimum. 
The pressure of that page goal on the fridge helps enormously with that.  I feel guilty for every minute I spend on email or Facebook because it’s not moving me toward that goal.

5. I follow my exercise program. 
For me, that’s walking about two miles every morning and stretching before I go to bed.  Your routine may well be different, but I hope you have one, because it’s critical to stay energized and healthy.  This is not the time to slack off.  Getting sick is not an option!

6. I have a deadline and I’m serious about meeting it. 
The daily page goal is based on my deadline.  Sometimes it’s a publisher deadline and other times it’s a personal deadline now that I’m a hybrid author who’s also self-publishing.  Doesn’t matter.  Deadlines are sacrosanct.

7. I let friends and family know I’m on a Write Like the Wind schedule. 
Now that I’ve spent 30-plus years of writing for a living, most of the people in my life get that, but it’s taken time and training.  When I meet my goal, then I turn into a social butterfly.  Until then, I’m wrapped in my cocoon.  They’ve learned to respect that.

8. I give myself a couple of small rewards during the day. 

One is a quick tarot card reading, which is my hobby, and the other is writing morning pages.  Some of you may recognize morning pages from Julia Cameron’s THE ARTIST’S WAY.  While writing morning pages may seem counterintuitive, it’s a treat for me to write random thoughts with pen and paper because I’m not typing narrative and dialogue.

9. I don’t watch the news or read about awful things happening in the world.

My creativity is negatively impacted by bad news.  Sometimes the bad news is too important or too close to home to ignore, and when that happens, my Write Like the Wind program is shot to hell.  So whenever possible, I avoid bad news that doesn’t require an immediate response from me.

10. I remind myself every day, sometimes every hour, how lucky I am to have found work that I love. 

Too many people in the world have no idea what kind of work makes them happy.  If you’ve discovered that writing makes you happy, you’re way ahead of the game.  If you’ve managed to make money doing it, you’re really blessed.

That’s it!  I realize that my Write Like the Wind method won’t work for everyone.  We all have different circumstances and different personalities.  But I started this list with the page goal on the fridge because it’s honestly the most concrete, kick-in-the-butt trick I know.  If you take nothing else from the list, I urge you to try it.  And now I need to get back to meeting my current page goal!  It’s on the fridge!

What sort of tricks do you have up your sleeve
to help you Write Like the Wind?

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GIVEAWAY:
Vicki is giving away TWO copies of her book, Cowboys & Angels, to two lucky commenters (international or domestic WITS readers can win) so let’s shower her with comment love!!

 

About Vicki

VLT_CowboysAngelsA romance writing career has brought Vicki Lewis Thompson many wonderful things –New York Times bestseller status, an appearance on LIVE with Regis and Kelly, the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award from Romance Writers of America, thousands of readers, many dear friends, and the cutest little yellow convertible in the world. Her career has also given her work she loves.

Although she’s written more than 100 books, she continues to be fascinated by the many ways that a man and woman fall in love. The age-old story remains a challenging puzzle to be solved anew with each book. That makes her a very lucky person, indeed.

Find out more at http://vickilewisthompson.com/.

37 comments to Write Like The Wind in Ten Easy Steps

  • jamiebeck

    Nice tips. I don’t know if anyone caught this article, but it supports Vicki’s fifth tip (
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/10491702/Lacking-inspiration-Exercise-found-to-boost-creativity.html). Also, I couldn’t agree more with tip #10! Best wishes for your continued success…thanks for sharing with the rest of us.

    • Thanks for telling us about the article about exercise, Jamie! I was never into sports, but sometime in my late twenties I realized I’d better start moving or I’d be sorry. Walking is so good for writers because it lets us think.

  • Wow, I’m still picking my jaw off the floor from the ’25 pages a day’ thing!
    I used to write around 500 words a day, but then I hung out with Melissa Cutler for a week, and slunk off to up that to 1k words a day.

    My only saving grace is that they’re usually ‘good’ pages.

    Wow, Vicki, you rock.

  • Thanks Vicki! This is perfect timing. I’m set to write full time come January. [[Woohoo, can’t wait.]] My friends and family have already been well trained in my writerly needs, so I’ve hit those buttons. I’ll be implementing #5, for sure. Working the day job and squeezing a writer life into the balance of my waking hours has seen a few normal activities fall of my radar….like a fit body, and housework. Ha! I’m printing your list and posting it to my fridge, right next to my daily page goal. Thanks!

    • Congratulations on making that decision, Jaye! Have fun! As for housework, about 7 years ago I decided to finally hire somebody to come in every two weeks to shovel out the house. I would give up lots of things before I’d give that up, now. It’s worth every penny to me!

  • You must be very single minded about your writing, but then if you live alone it probably helps. My problem is that my husband, who also works from home, wants coffee, lunch, you name it, all day long. He also pops in and reads over my shoulder and comments on what I have written.
    So I’m thinking of either leaving home, or making an arrangement with the local cyber cafe about me being able to sit in their shop from 9-5.
    I wonder how other writers deal with annoying husbands/partners who do not understand that these distractions are sooo annoying.

    • Um . . . I left him. That’s why I live alone. 🙂 I’m not advocating that AT ALL. I tried everything and finally gave up when I realized that it wasn’t that he didn’t understand. He was actively (subconsciously, I’m sure) sabotaging. And wasn’t going to change. If you can find a way to be somewhere else during the day, that’s one possibility. I know some writers who rent an office.

    • Robyn LaRue

      My “office” is also my husband’s den, and we knock heads sometimes, but he’s learning to use my headphones as an indicator to leave me be, and very slowly learning to stop asking me to go out or do social things when I’m in “the draft” as we call it (first drafts come fast for me). It takes time and consistency and never backing down. He used to read my screen, and it took several years for him to understand how disruptive that was for me. (I also set the font to some scripty thing and 8pt, which actually helped a lot).

  • Reblogged this on Ella Quinn ~ Author and commented:
    While I’m trying to finish up the novella for next Christmas, and write book #6 of The Marriage Game. I give you this wonderful post by the ladies at WITS.

  • Great advice. Tweeted and reblogged.

  • Wow, that is a serious approach. But the key was the final statement that you are fortunate to have found somethng that you love.

    Nothing like a deadline to get you writing. Often we have to set our own deadlines and make that commitment that deadline.

    • Michael, every once in awhile I catch myself complaining about my writing schedule, and I have to stop right there and remember that I’m one of the luckiest people in the world to be doing work I love. Sometimes (often) I work hard, but it’s what I want to do, and that makes all the difference.

      • This is so true, Vicki – I do the same . . . then remember that I worked for 15 years to be able to complain about where I am. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Thanks for the fantastic post, Vicki! I usually write 10-15 pages when I’m on a clip and you have me wanting to up my game to at least 20. 🙂

    • Thanks, Jenny! I’m convinced page count goals are like anything. You imagine you can only write so much until you are up against a tight deadline and suddenly discover that was an artificial barrier.

  • Orly Konig Lopez

    Great post, Vicki. Thanks!!
    I have a calendar page on my desk that spells out how many words I need to hit each day. Then each morning I write down my starting number and target end. I don’t get up (except for spill and fill breaks) until I hit that number. Now if I could just close out all other distractions (hello blog post that needs reading, new email that can’t wait), I’d probably hit that number much faster. 🙂

  • Whoa! The sound you hear is the breeze ruffling my hair since my hat is off to you. If i do the math correctly, you have a draft novel in two weeks! Let me say again, wow! Also, perfect timing for me since I am facing some tight deadlines for my next mystery, complicated by an invitation to contribute a short story to one anthology and a novella to another. Why am I here? You’ve inspired me — gotta go.

    • Thanks, James! I did get a draft done in two weeks, and if I had my druthers, I wouldn’t be quite that pressured. But when the offers come in, you hate to turn them down, because you never know in this business, right? Good luck to you on your many projects!

  • Great post, Vicki. I use a kitchen timer. 25-30 minutes writing. 15 minute break to get water or do a few at-the-desk exercises or change the load in the dryer. I can do that all day long and get massive wordage.

  • Wonderful post, Vicki. #10 is very important. We all need to love what we do so we can do it well. I limit myself to writing in one hour spurts and then get up and move. Thanks for the tips. Tweeted.

  • Great post, Vicki. I especially related to #9. I’m the same way. Negative, sad, tragic news gets me down and I find myself unable to find the joy and wonder in my writing. Love the idea of putting a daily page goal up on the fridge like you do. Mind if I steal that idea? Thanks again for some great tips! Chris

  • I’m super impressed, Vicki! Good luck and Godspeed to you!

  • Yes, Vicki … you are a good example of “them that can’t make excuses … them that can just do it.”
    I was off the grid for a while and told myself there is no reason at this stage in my life to allow anything but death to stop me … I loved this post. It says so much about what can be done when we focus and work it 🙂

  • Congrats on your success, Vicki. You have inspired me to get the lead out of my mental butt and set a daily word/page count goal. Thanks for the great post. 🙂

    • Jackie, one of my favorite motivational writing books, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, says at the end something to the effect of “give us what you’ve got.” I think that’s so powerful. Those of us who are writers have an obligation to get that stuff out there! Good for you, vowing to do that!

  • Thanks for the great advice and motivation!

  • This is wonderful, Vicki. Focus, detail, work, and taking care of yourself – it’s got it all! I love this article, and I can use your ideas immediately. I have too many demands on my time from people I love, so it has been challenging to teach them to wait for me to get back to them. Cheers from a newbie writer.

  • I so needed this right now. When someone in my family drops a ball, I pick it up. But I’ve discovered that’s become a habit with them. To many slippery fingers, make my life difficult when it comes to writing. I’m starting to ignore all those balls rolling into my office but it’s not easy! Still I”m making progress. 🙂

  • All around great post, Vicki! 2 things stood out for me – one is self-talk. Tell yourself what you must do, then do it. You’re your own boss. The other is that many people don’t know what kind of work will make them happy. If you know it’s writing, then do it. I’m making my get-busy-writing list & checking it twice. Time’s a-wasting!