Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How to write 5,000 – 8,000 words a day.

How to write 5,000 – 8,000 words a day.

Writing is my full time job that I hope to get paid for someday. I work on average 8 hours a day. Some mornings I have to get up at 4:30 A.M. if I expect to have a busy day. I have a few things that help, like a chapter mapping system, and House of Order plan. Right now I’m just getting the story down. I’m sure when I go back, edit and tighten, my word count will be lower. My family is really good about understanding that this is my job. I have break time, meal time, family play time, cuddle time, exercise time, and school time with my family.

Because I’m so busy I have to make my time with family count. I’ve become a follower of Marie Ricks and her House of Order program. http://www.houseoforder.com/ It saves me hours everyday when I use her meal and cleaning plans. My house is set up efficiently, I don’t watch T.V. or play video games unless its what we decide to do for family time. I take vitamin B 12, workout, and generally eat healthy so I can keep my energy up and my brain active.

Here are some other ideas that help me save time as a mom and author. I hope it can help you too.

Keep a notebook near you at all times.
I have one in my purse, by my bed, in the car, in my gym bag, and in the diaper bag.
Before my husband got me a light-up pen, I would wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for a story and reach for my pen and notebook and wrote all I could in the dark room. One morning I realized that I had written all over my sheets but at least the storyline was down.

Maximize your trips.
I designated one day a week for running errands. This is when I go to the bank, post office, copy center, grocery store, and drop off or pick up whatever else I need.

Create a filing system.
This will help you keep your creative work area clutter free. Make folders for bills, letters, insurance information, book ideas, things to edit, etc.

Even driven, talented, athletic super men and women can’t do everything. Is it really important to you to have an immaculate house all the time? Do you really want to spend and hour and a half getting ready to go out and get the mail? Would you rather spend three hours watching T.V., or would you rather spend that time working on your next book? Decide what is important to you and what you can cut out. Find your time wasters and eliminate them.

Make a reading pile.
Have all the books, newspapers, magazines, manuscripts to be critiques, scriptures, etc., near your bed so you can read to unwind from the day.
Keep lists.
Whether you’re planning a trip out of town, a trip to the grocery story, or creating a schedule, keep a small note book handy so if you think of something you need you can add it to the list.
This will save you lots of time when you try to recall what you were supposed to do, where you were suppose to go, what you need to pack, or pick up at the store.

Take care of yourself.
Get in shape and stay fit. You will have sooooo much more energy for real life and better blood flow to your brain which means more thinking power.
Get your kids involved with exercise. It’s quality family time and you’re teaching them a good habit. My young child likes to bounce on the exercise ball with me and play tag.

Get to know your characters.
I spend about two weeks getting to know my characters before I start writing. The better you know your characters the more they will help you write the story. Create a character bible. Figure out their strengths, weaknesses, past history, nervous habits, favorite foods, their dreams and hopes, character flaws, and special skills. Get to know them so well that if you sat down with them in a restaurant you would know what they would be wearing, what they would order, and how they would tip the waitress. Also figure out the geography you are working with and any significant items, like magic swords or priceless family heirlooms. Objects can have their own history, weaknesses, or special powers.

Chapter mapping system.

.Make a timeline, and break down your book into chapters. Next, break down your chapters. Record significant people, places, or things that come along, or happen within each chapter. Write down any ideas, including dialogue, that pops into you mind as you are filling out each chapter.

Its okay to say “no.”
I am an illustrator and web designer - two things that authors want and need. In order to find time to write my books I’ve had to limit illustration projects to only publishers that I have portfolios with. I’ve also had to completely cut out my web design business. The only webpage I maintain now is my own and I’ve made that site pretty much self sufficient.

Take Sundays off.
It really helps, and you will be able to get more done during the week, if you give yourself a break.
I also take Wednesday off (my husbands other day off besides Sunday) We use Wednesday as a family day to hang out and go fishing, take a trip to the park, go on a long walk or embark on some other adventure.

Write now edit later.
Yep, just get it down. If you’re worried about the small details of editing or spend fifteen minutes searching for the “right word” you’re going to disrupt the flow of your story. First drafts aren’t pretty. I don’t even spell check until my second draft.

I spend 45 min to an hour every morning meditating. I go through my day in my head and create a battle plan for how to tackle life. I also go through the chapter I’m going to be working on that day in my head as if it was an extension of my own personal life. For example: I get up and get ready for the day, get breakfast ready for everyone and then spend an hour doing one on one homeschooling with my son. I do house work and plan the meals for the day and answer emails. My son goes down for his nap, I sit at my computer and enter a forbidden valley that has become infested with trolls, make lunch then start my hunt for the vial of phoenix blood, hidden somewhere in the troll city.

I know it sounds silly, but athletes use this same technique right before a big game or competition.

Get a blessing.
Some kids get a blessing before they start each new school year. I get one before I start a new novel.

Use paper plates.
I know it might not seem environmentally friendly but neither is running the dishwasher everyday and using the extra detergent. Besides, you can always recycle paper plates.

Get a food storage.
I have a nice food storage and I plan out all my meals in advance so I only have to go grocery shopping twice a month. I make it a quick trip, and I try to get someone to watch my child. For some reason it always takes longer with him. If I do take him I turn it into a school trip and we talk about what color the bananas are, lets count the apples, etc.

Teach your kids to do chores.
Its easier if you teach them while they are young instead of suddenly expecting your teenagers to take responsibility for household duties.
My 15 month old helps me push the vacuum and pick up toys. Yeah, it would be faster if I just did it myself but who knows, maybe by the time he is three or four he will be able to vacuum a room by himself.
My advice would be to teach your kids to do the maintenance stuff (the things that need to be done every day) like dishes, sweeping, and feeding pets.

I don’t clean my whole house everyday like I use to, and I don’t deep clean my house every month like I use to.
In the morning I pick two rooms and clean them. I only deep clean my house every six months, and the whole family helps. You can assign each member of the family a room and have a contest to see who can get their room or section of the house the cleanest. The winner gets to choose the toppings on one of the pizzas (you won’t want to cook that night, trust me).
See House of Order for more ideas.

Help other authors when you can.
Critique groups are great and can help you work through trouble spots in your story. Remember to pay it forward and be willing to critique other’s manuscripts as well.


  1. Dierdra--great post! I especially agree with your comments about the residual benefits of staying fit. What an impact that can have on your mind. In fact, I just wrote about this very topic yesterday at http://www.danielbaygibbons.com/?p=239 . All the best to you.

  2. Hmm, I think it ate my comment. Well anyway, I like your blog and it's nice to put a face to the name on AI. Thanks for sharing!

  3. That was most excellent advice! Thanks for posting it.

    By the way, I enjoyed your blog and clicked to be a follower.

    I'd love to have you as a follower at my blog, too. No pressure, (I’ll only weep, wail and gnash my teeth :) but if you're interested, click here which takes you to bythebecks.blogspot.com, and you can click to follow from there. :)

  4. Hi Dierdra! Great advice! It was nice meeting you @ LDStorymakers too.

  5. I am going to print this out where I can read it often. It is all wonderful advice. Thank you. You look so familiar, did we meet at the conference? I talked to so many people it was a blast!

    I like your blog and I am now a follower. I would also love to have you follow my blog at



  6. LOL, I'm with you on the paper plates!! I try to use them at least once a week.

    Cute pictures on your blog!! I'm terrible at keeping up with AI emails, but saw you on there. Here's one more Follow--I hope you can get the count up to where you want it to be. :)

  7. I too liked your writing tips. I work way more than 8 hours a day, and for me, I carry a net book that is ready to go. I just open it when I have a few minutes and type a little. I have written in this way for the past 9 years and have authored 2 books and several poems. If is waited until I had one-hour blocks of time, I would have written very little, if anything in the past decade. At first, I found it tough to switch on and then switch off after so short a time, but after a while I became used to the procedure. Most of my writing takes place in windows of less than 5 minutes, but every second Saturday, when my wife goes to work at 7am, I often sit in bed with my breakfast and laptop (and dog) and work for an hour or two. I really enjoy those big blocks of time, but they are rare!! I just do what I can and so far it has been enough.

  8. Excellent list. I agree with all your points but can't emphasize enough how important it is to have a notebook and pen [with enough ink] with you at all times. Even in the bathroom! I kid you not, lots of good ideas can happen there.

    Also, being able to take at least a day off a week can really help recharge your batteries. I am so looking forward to Sunday. OK, a half day off but that's what I can manage now!

    Thanks again for this helpful list/reminder! :)

  9. Lol. This sounds like my life!! Rock on.


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