How to Spend Hours Writing Without Really Trying


9,000 words and counting.

There are four hours standing between me and the end of Camp NaNoWriMo. I set my goal at 10,000 words and I’m going to get there even if I have to drink 20 more cups of coffee. Okay, maybe that’s a little extreme. A writer’s gotta do what a writer’s gotta do.

Those of you who have been following me for awhile know it’s not my tendency to set low word count goals. I chose 10,000 words because I’m still getting used to this whole adulting thing, and my sleeping patterns are all wacky, and also, not knowing what the heck is going on with this book I’m trying to write this year.

I’ve written more words in the past three days than I have in the past three months. Things just kept getting in my way, work and school and, probably the most significant, hating my book. I’m much happier with the story I’m writing now, a sort of spinoff of the story I was trying to write just a week ago.

So before you start yelling at me about “cheating on” my other novel, simmer down. In some bizarre way, writing this story is helping me make the other book a more promising pitch later in my career. If I ever have one.

Writing this post is difficult; I’m on a roll and know I could easily hit 10,000 words within a few hours if I kept writing now. And I will, once I finish this post. I’m doing so now because, like I wrote in my previous post, I think it’s important to be honest with you about the writing process. The process of getting published, gaining readership, that’s not the focus here. Writing a book, that’s not so hard. Writing a good story, preferably book length, is nearly impossible.

Yet thousands of authors have done it. I think we can, too.

My Latest Discovery

My book, so far, does not contain a lot of description. Other than the necessities—eye color, facial expressions, things that, for reasons that are difficult to explain in one post, are vital to the story itself in this case—mostly what I have is intertwined exposition and dialogue.

Some of my favorite scenes so far are mostly dialogue, and even though dialogue takes up less space on a page, it’s apparently very easy to get caught up enough in an imaginary conversation that you end up spending an hour or more writing when you only meant to write for 10 minutes.

If there’s a conversation in your head, and you start writing it out, you might find it easier to get a lot more done, which honestly, until very recently, I didn’t even realize was possible.

How to Write More Words in One Sitting

I’m telling you, fluffy descriptions and hyperactive adjective use are not the way to go when you’re trying to bump up your word count … er, at the last minute. Everyone adds extra (read: unnecessary) words here and there; for example, I add a lot of extra “thats” even though it drives me bonkers. Pages upon pages of description … skip it!

To me, adding the little bit of fluff you do need to add to a novel, that comes later. I want to ge the story out on paper first. If I know Character A and Character B need to have a certain conversation at some point, and I’m in the mood to write it, I’m going to write it.

Dialogue has the potential to carry you away. I’m not saying I’m a great writer, or even proud of most of or any of the work I’ve ever completed, but some of the most profound things I’ve written have come from dialogue. These are the moments when I look up at a clock and realize hours have gone by.

Conversation between two people is so important, especially in books. I want to contribute to that importance. If it’s not your thing, and you hate it, that’s your style and I’m certainly not here to criticize you for it. What’s important is that you figure out which element of writing your story gets you most excited, and focus on that. If your book ends up being more dialogue than anything else, fine! Some readers will adore that.

As writers we have to do what we have to do to get the words in. Me, I’m going to make this post look semi-professional, get more coffee, and crank out the last 1,000 words of April before watching more Vlogbrothers videos.

It’s all I need, really. Hank, John and coffee, probably in that order.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

A recent graduate with a B.A. in English and a completed major in nutrition, currently seeking a graduate degree in health communication, Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and dietetics. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist and Grammar Nazi (and the mastermind behind this site), Meg is an editor for College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Stone Soup.  She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink magazine. Follow Meg on Twitter.

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