Monthly Archives: June 2016

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word count app icon

Revolutionary Word Count App for Writers

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Using word count is a great way to track your writing progress and stay on top of your writing goals. It’s a lot easier to write that novel if you break it down into bite-sized, manageable chunks. Remember last week’s post? I mentioned that even if you only have 30 minutes a day for writing, you can still accomplish a great deal. If you wrote just 500 words in those 30 minutes you’ll have 15,000 words in just one month. That’s a quarter of a short novel! This is fun, right? Let’s look at another.

Let’s say you set a word count goal of 2,000 words per day.                                                         (This, by the way, is Stephen King’s daily writing quota)

2,000 words x 30 days = 60,000 or ONE NOVEL

That’s right. A novel’s worth of writing in just one month. Okay, I know that there’s more to a novel than just churning out some words, but it’s definitely a first draft.

These counts are useful for any type of writer: fiction, non-fiction, short stories, poetry, screenplays, essays; whatever your little writing heart desires.

So let’s get started. First, choose a number you can live with. Yes, it would be great to write 5,000 words per day, but it’s probably not sustainable over a long period of time. You want a word count you know you can manage on a daily basis. That way you won’t be tempted to give up because you find yourself missing your goal too often.

Here are the counts of famous authors to inspire you. For more, check out this blog post.

Jack London wrote 1,500 words per day

J.R.R. Tolkein wrote around 245 words per day (LOTR was an 11 year project)

Ernest Hemingway wrote only 500

Michael Crichton clocks 10,000 per day

Obviously, there’s quite a range, so don’t feel compelled to copy your favorites; just do what works for you.

A Word Count App To Rule Them All!

The next thing you’ll need is a good way to track all this writing. If you have a Mac, you can try this fantastic new app by Christian Tietze. This little prize can:

  • gives immediate feedback on your productivity
  • encourage you by showing you your daily output
  • gives you clarity about your daily goals
  • keeps a complete history of your daily achievements so you can chart your progress

Right now, it’s being offered for an early bird discount of just $9.99 and it’s worth EVERY PENNY. (Full disclosure: I found, bought, and used this app on my own. I have no association with the developer, nor do I get any benefits if you buy. It just plain good, so I’m telling ya!)

I’ve tried it out for a week and OH MY GOSH, it is the best thing ever. Granted, I had two kids with wisdom teeth out in mid-week, so my counts look pretty shoddy, but I could actually see my progress. I’m visual, so the charts and calendar really help me. Here’s a screenshot of this week:

word count monthly progress

I far exceeded my word count expectations on two of those days without even realizing it. As I progress through weeks and then months I’m confident I’ll begin to see where my “weak” days are and learn to tweak them so I can produce more.

In addition to the monthly progress chart I can get a real-time view of my progress as I move through the day with a pop-up I can activate on my desktop. Here’s what today looks like so far:

word count time progressCurrently, I have my cursor pointed at one of the time slots, so it’s showing my output at 12 pm. You can see there is a logo for “Google” and one for “Pages”. The app is tracking my words across both platforms so I can see what I did on each. When I’m writing in WordPress, the word count shows up in the “Google Chrome” area. If I am writing in Pages, it will show up there. This lets me track different projects easily.

You can even create folders to hold different types of work and track the progress of each. In the example, below, I created a folder to hold my fiction writing. This makes tracking my efforts across all of my projects easy to monitor!

word count groups

The app does not currently have the capability to store Pages documents in the Files Monitoring section due to restrictions by Apple, but Christian is trying to resolve this as quickly as possible. To me, it’s a minor inconvenience because the real workhorse power of this app is in the daily and monthly trackers.

Finally, take a look at the example I got from the official press kit. Notice all the different programs that are being tracked, including Scrivener, a top-notch program for writing and keeping yourself organized.

word count progressBecause all words written in each of the different platforms are shown in this pop-up, it offers a quick reference for your daily progress. The handy pie chart lets you see the percentage of time you spent in each different area and the itemized review gives you a quick look at the word counts for each. In addition, you get a bar chart that shows your momentum throughout the day, giving you peaks and valleys that you can use to tweak your day for more productivity.

Any way you slice it, this app ROCKS! If you’re a writer, it can really amp up your productivity and help you stay on track with your latest projects.

Give it a try and let me know how you like it!

See you on the next page!

Nikki Bee

 


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place to take a morning dump to increase word count

Nix Word Count Woes with a Morning Dump

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Word count — if you’ve ever written an article for pay or a sweeping work of epic fiction, you’re probably obsessed with them. In fact, if you’re a writer, you know that counting words is a great way to keep track of what you’ve accomplished and motivate yourself to do more.

Which brings me to the next point: How can you get your word counts up there in the stratosphere or at least get some consistency to your writing flow? I’ve got the answer. I give you (insert fanfare here): The Morning Dump.

Like any good writer, I take one at least once a day, excepting holidays and birthdays, of course. And no, I’m not talking about bodily functions, unless you’re counting using your brain. It’s a fastest, most fun and easy way to get those words on a page that I know, and I’m going to share it with you here. Ready?

How to Take A Morning Dump (for increased word count, of course!)

Step One: Strive to Be Regular

You have to commit to making this a ritual, just as you would the, er, other kind of dump. Decide when you’re going to fit it in your morning schedule; right after you wake up (yes, Virginia, you can do this in bed!), after breakfast, after a workout, before you open your email? The choices are endless and you can pick whatever time slot works best for you.

Step Two: Choose Your Throne

Pick a place that will be your “dumping ground”.  You can work at a desk, a dining table, in bed with a lap desk, in the garden at a picnic table or at your local coffee shop. Just choose somewhere you feel uplifted and invigorated. Just like Pavlov taught his dogs to salivate when they heard a bell ring, having a special spot to practice will encourage those words to start pouring out whenever you get into place.

Step Three: Don’t Push Too Hard

Don’t try to force inspiration if it doesn’t seem to be flowing. Just write about anything. You can even write about how difficult it is to increase your word count! The action of putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) will get the gears cranking and before you know it, you’ll have plenty of words to work with. Don’t worry about how your writing sounds, either. Get it out of your head and on to the page!

Step Four: Chart Your Progress

As with any goal, it’s critical to keep track of your progress so you can make tweaks and changes if you need to or you can celebrate your freaking heart out because you’ve far exceeded your expectations. Let me show you how darned easy it is to be in a celebratory mood using this method. Say you’ve set a daily word count quota of 500 words. That’s not very many, right? You could write 500 words in about 30 minutes, even on a slow day, right? Okay, so say you’ve met your quota for 30 days. That’s correct, just one month. Guess what? You’ve written a total of 15,000 words. That’s 1/4 of a novel! In just 30 minutes a day! Woohoo! Time to break out the party horns and confetti!

I challenge you to be a regular morning dumper! Set your goal, give it a month, and let me know how it goes. I’m excited to hear how well you’re doing!

See you on the next page!

Nikki Bee

P.S. If you don’t want to use your usual word processing software to keep count, here are a few free tools to check out:

http://www.wordcounter.com/

http://www.wordcounttool.com/

http://www.countofwords.com/

https://www.apple.com/downloads/dashboard/calculate_convert/wordcounterwidget.html

And OMG! I love this one. If you’re a Mac user you HAVE to check this out!

http://wordcounterapp.com/

It can help you track your word count across many platforms to show you where, when, and how you are most productive! I’ll be writing more on this great little tool next week!

 

 


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indie book of the month

Indie-Book-of-the-Month: Dreaming at the Top of My Lungs

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israel finn indie book of the monthJune’s indie book-of-the-month, Dreaming at the Top of My Lungs, was written by Israel Finn, a horror, dark fantasy, and speculative fiction writer and a winner of the 80th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Story Competition.

Israel’s had a life-long love affair with books, and was weaned on authors like Kurt Vonnegut, Ray Bradbury, Richard Matheson, Arthur C. Clarke and H.G. Wells. Books were always strewn everywhere about the big white house in the Midwest where he grew up. Although he loves literary works, his main fascination lies in the fantastic and the macabre, probably because he was so heavily exposed to it early on.

When he later he discovered Robert McCammon, Dean Koontz, F. Paul Wilson, Dan Simmons, Ramsey Campbell, and Stephen King, as well as several others, the die was indelibly cast.

He’s been a factory worker, a delivery driver, a singer/songwriter in several rock bands, and a sailor, among other things. But throughout he’s always maintained his love of storytelling.

And tell stories he does. Dreaming at the Top of My Lungs doesn’t just contain stories that will give you the creeps, although there are a fair amount of those. Some of these tales make you reach deep down inside for emotions you thought you’d long forgotten, and some will change your perspective on everyday issues and experiences. In fact, reading this collection is an experience, with lush descriptions and gritty characters that grab you by the collar and pull you into the story, kicking and screaming. I’m honored to publish our book-of-the-month interview, below:

Indie Book-of-the-Month Author Interview: Israel Finn

1. You mention in your Foreword that you write about real fears — can you share an experience you’ve had that prompted one of the tales in Dreaming?

I’d just had a spat with my wife. I can’t recall what it was about, and it doesn’t really matter. Married couples quarrel sometimes, it’s natural, even healthy. But she left our apartment to run some errands before we had resolved whatever the issue was, so we were both still angry. Then as time passed, my imagination got the best of me, as it so often does. I started to worry that something would happen to her while she was out (a car wreck, an earthquake, a public shooting), or that something would happen to me (a heart attack, a plane crashing into our apartment). This uneasy feeling ate at me, and a little voice inside me said, “What if you never see her again? What if you never get the chance to tell her you’re sorry, and the last thing she ever hears from you are your words of anger?” I think many of us carry superstitions around with us. If you step on a crack, it just might break your mother’s back. And don’t say the word cancer or the cosmos may just hear you and actually strike you with it. My story Stranded was born of these fears, that we should be careful what we say, because words have power, and the universe has ears, and you may unwittingly speak some horror into existence.

2. In Stones, you put a unique spin on phobias dealing with sexual orientation. That’s a real-world topic and I think your tale did a fine job of deconstructing the issue and framing it in a new way. Did you intend to take a social stand with this, or did it just occur organically as you wrote?

A little of both. One approach I try to use in my writing, and one that can be powerful when it works, is to show an idea from a reverse perspective. I did it in Water and War, and again in Stones. I think if you take someone out of their own skin, so to speak, and put them in someone else’s, they begin to see how similar we all are, that we all want pretty much the same things out of life. Once you begin to see the world through someone else’s eyes, it becomes harder to hate them. I have gay friends, and it infuriates me to see or hear about some bigot treating them badly. But history will look back on these hypocrites and see their ideology as ridiculous, just as we see slavery as a preposterous concept today. 

3. I find your writing to be eerily reminiscent of Stephen King, with lush vocabulary that creeps over the reader like verbal kudzu and completely envelopes him in the scent, sound, and feel of a scene. Is this typical of your writing or did these tales just clamor for that treatment?

It’s just how I write. I like to give as much texture to my make-believe worlds as possible. The devil’s in the details. If an alien spacecraft is landing for the first time in front of a crowd of Earthlings, what makes the event exciting (or frightening) is not the event itself, but the rich mixture of feelings and reactions coming from the onlookers. That’s where the real story lies.

4. Which story gave you the most difficulty and why?

Probably To Catch A Fly. It was hard to keep it from reading like a manifesto. It revolves around this miscreant’s views of the world (some of which I share), and it was difficult to present it as a story that unfolds rather than simply this guy’s litany of rants. I went through several drafts before I thought it was presentable.

5. Do you have a process or technique you use to punch up your creativity and get new inspiration?

One thing I try to do is to always remain aware of what’s going on around me. It’s easy to get mired in the mundane, but inspiration can be found in the tedium of everyday life, whether it be snippets of overheard conversation, someone’s appearance, or whatever. But the muse can be an elusive thing. And as blunt as it may sound, the best way I’ve found to capture it is to just put my ass in the seat and my fingers on the keys.

6. What new book/story do you have in the works? 

I’ve got a few. But my passion at the moment is one that started as a stand-alone novel, yet is probably going to be a trilogy. It’s called Threads, and it’s the contemporary tale of Will Dunham, an unlikely hero who finds himself the reluctant defender of the multiverse.

7. What’s your best piece of advice for indie writers?

Don’t quit. Keep writing, no matter what. Read everything you can get your hands on, in and out of your comfort zone. Read writing books by successful authors. Stay away from negativity. Social media is a great place for the most part, but it has its share of naysayers. Avoid them like the plague. Ignore them. Write.

Thanks, Israel, for allowing me to profile Dreaming at the Top of My Lungs as a book of the month and for sharing your writing process. I’d like to encourage everyone to support this talented author by downloading a copy of Israel’s book NOW by clicking on the cover:

Connect with Israel to stay on top of his latest releases:

Blog: https://israelfinn.com/blog/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Israel_Finn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IsraelFinn

See you on the next page!

Nikki Bee

P.S.

If you’d like your novel to be featured in the Indie Book-of-the-Month author series, please contact me at gottabeeme@gmail.com. Just give me a brief summary of your novel and the genre, point me to where it “lives”  (Amazon, a personal website, brick-and-mortar bookseller) so I can pick up a copy. Also, include a short bio. Please DO NOT offer me a free copy (unless you are currently running a special on your novel). I like to support my fellow indies and I also prefer to operate free of perceived bias!

Please give me two weeks to answer all queries — I don’t have “people” to help me out yet, so things can move slowly at times!

Thanks so much for you interest and for your support of other indie book authors!


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writing process with pen

The Writing Process Every Writer Needs

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Writers are always searching for the perfect writing process. Some authors tell you follow one method or another; others swear there’s no need to follow any process at all. If you start researching all the various writing methods and programs out there, you quickly end up with a spinning head from all the contradictory advice.

So what’s a writer to do?

Before I give you the answer, let me explain how I came by it. Years ago, I ended up with several major medical misdiagnoses and an enormous case of chronic stress. To fix my health issues, I giddily pursued this and that self-help guru, each of whom unerringly promoted the one “right” way to get healthy, get fit, beat stress–you name it. Through this long and sometimes frustrating trial-and-error, I found that what worked miracles for one person did absolutely nothing for me. That’s when I got smart and custom-tailored a health and stress management system for myself — because who knows me better than I do? Then, I took my knowledge and wrote an Amazon #1 bestselling book: One Size Does NOT Fit All: Stress Management–a book whose overreaching mantra is: What works for one does not work for everyone.

What does all this have to do with your writing process?

Everything. There are myriad “right” ways to write, but not all of them will fit your lifestyle, personality, and writing needs. If you’re looking for that perfect process, be aware that it’s easy to go spinning down the rabbit hole pursuing this author’s “system” or that one’s “method” only to find out that you’ve wasted time and money on a scheme that won’t work for you because it’s not in alignment with your style.

Does that mean you shouldn’t give credence to the writing process suggestions out there? Absolutely not! There are a lot of fantastic tips and tricks authors use to raise their word counts, polish their words till they gleam like gems, and fire up their idea generators. What you need to concentrate on when sifting through these suggestions is determining which of them will be easy and natural for you to implement. Because if there is one thing I know for sure, it’s:

What you don’t use can’t help you.

pomodoro writing processYou must actually use a method for it to work. And you won’t use it if it doesn’t come naturally to you. For example, if Author X tells you to use the Pomodoro method to up your word count, but you aren’t someone who likes to keep track of your time constantly, then this will not work for you. Instead, you could use daily word count goals to motivate yourself. If you’re exceptionally hard to motivate, you might want to consider a small reward for yourself after every day or week that you reach your word count goals.

night owl writerHere’s another example: Some writers claim that their writing process hinges on writing only in the morning. They back this up with evidential studies that prove people are at their most creative at this time of day. Yet many of the writers I know are night owls who do their best work in the dark of the moon. If you’re one of them, getting up at the crack of dawn to write is not going to be conducive to getting your creative juices flowing — instead, you may find yourself unmotivated and tired and end up feeling overwhelmed. At that point, you’ll stop using the method and, ipso facto, it doesn’t work.

So go ahead and explore all the glorious iterations of creativity, motivation, and productivity for writers out there. Gather all the free information you can. Then weave together the bits that resonate with you, your personality, and your lifestyle to create a kick-ass writing process that is tailor-made for you. After all, no matter how well-intentioned the advice, no one knows you like you do!

See you on the next page!

Nikki Bee

 


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