Every story begins with one word. A second word is added, and then a third until a sentence is created. Then a paragraph. At last, a full page. Then more pages until finally, the tale is completed. Without words, there is no story. This production of words is the focus for every writer.
Many blog posts, articles and books have been written about how to produce or increase one’s word count. I have also paid attention to this advice. Overwhelmingly, the consensus is to place your butt in the chair and your hands on the keyboard and type for whatever amount of time you have. Authors proudly post about how many hours of sitting produced this many words.
I always felt guilty about reading these because maybe I wasn’t a “real” author. It’s difficult for me to sit for hours and produce so many words. I write what sentences and paragraphs I’ve considered. I have a scene outline written down, with the beats I plan to cover, but it doesn’t all come together in one glorious hour. I write by moments.
When I write, I work on the beat I have planned for the scene. I develop dialogue, action, sensory details and interior thought with an emotional response. I write the sentences that create this beat. Then I stop to consider how to transition to the next beat in the scene. There’s lots of starting and stopping in this method, and I don’t produce thousands of words an hour. However, my drafts are fairly clean.
Yet, guilt hit because I wasn’t writing the way “real” authors do.
Then I read a book titled Half a Million Words: (In Nine Months) by Talitha Kalago available as a Kindle e-book on Amazon. I told you writers like to read how other authors are producing words. She deals with a chronic disease that physically makes it very difficult for her to write—even dictation is hard due to some issues with her jaw. Yet she wrote that many words, despite her obstacles.
Her book offers some of the standard advice, such as tracking how you really spend your time and what are your actual priorities and duties. Where I struck gold and identified was when she described a method she called Death by a Thousand Cuts.
Every 15 or 30 minutes throughout your day, take five minutes to write 100 words in one or two minutes. Then go back to the other things you need to do, such as work, cleaning, taking care of pets or children. During the time you’re doing something else, you think about your next 100 words, so you are ready to sit down and input them at the next “cut.”
A hundred words is like a quick e-mail, which I can easily toss off. I love the Death by a Thousand Cuts method. It suits how I think and write. I do a lot of pacing and other tasks while writing. This book offered me an approved writing method done by another real writer. When I put this method to use, I quickly did the two chapters I’d scheduled to complete in January. I am very happy and relieved to have found this book. Click on the picture below to be taken to the book, if you wish to learn more about Ms. Kalago’s methods.