Obstacles galore

23 February 2015 11:00

For the past week or so, I feel like I haven’t made any progress with book 9. There are several factors at work here, which I’ll elaborate on in a moment, but I should probably start with an interesting statement:

It isn’t true

Ever since the third book in this series, I’ve used an automated progress tracker that keeps day-to-day records of my word counts. These statistics show me the following:

  • My word counts have been steadily increasing every day
  • Last week had a lower average, but not a decrease

In other words: I’m still making progress, but not as much as I would have in a normal week. So why is this happening?

The first and most obvious reason is fatigue, probably caused by some virus or other (it wasn’t strong enough to actually make me sick, just tired). I’ve been exceptionally tired the past week, going to bed an hour earlier than I normally would, and still feeling tired throughout the day. Earlier in the day, such as during my commute to work, I was still fit enough to focus on my writing, and I could pretty much write at regular speed. But after spending eight hours (not counting breaks) on my day job, I often did not have any energy left to do more writing on the way home. I tried, but the best I could do was write at half speed (when I wasn’t staring at my screen blankly).

The second reason is rewrites. I’d start each writing session looking at the stuff I wrote the previous time, throwing away half of it, and rewriting it. I did this at least three times in the past week. So even when I was writing at full speed, I was still only getting half the work done.

The third reason is the fact that I haven’t been using my normal tricks to speed up my writing (among other techniques, the ones from 2k to 10k).

So how do I fix this? There isn’t really any way to deal with the fatigue, other than eliminate the causes. Plenty of sleep and healthy food, but that generally isn’t that much of a problem. If it was a virus, my body should have taken care of it by now, unless we’re talking about something nastier than your average common cold (such as influenza, but I would have been actually sick then).

The second and third problem are easier to solve. One of the techniques for speeding up writing is: before writing, think about what you want to write for 5 minutes and write it down in simple steps. This causes both a boost in speed, and because you’re spending more time thinking things through, it should cut back rewrites.

Another solution to my lack of speed is to add more writing sessions. Writing at half speed is not a problem if you’re spending twice as much time writing, and generally, my writing speed increases the longer I’ve been at it. I could probably get a whole lot more writing done if I gave myself more time to do it.

Any other tips to get my writing back up to speed?