Distraction Free Scrivener

I’ve been working with Scrivener since Literature& Latte announced the Windows Beta late last year. It’s an awesome program and has made it very easy for me to organize my current WIP. However, like most tools, there’s a lot going on in its UI, and sometimes that can be distracting when you’re trying to bang out a scene. To help me focus, I customized Scrivener’s Full Screen view so it’s more like an old school word processor – black background and green text. This short video shows the steps I performed.
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One thing to note – the video shows some lines at the top and edges of the screen after these changes have been made. Those lines aren’t actually visible in Scrivener while you’re using it.

If you’d like to try out Scrivener for Windows, head on over here.





Word Count Workout

When I got serious about writing a novel, I buckled down and decided that I needed to write X words per day. The problem was, what should X be? At this point, I need to mention that algebra was probably my weakest subject, and suddenly needing to solve for X in order to determine a crucial step in my writing career was somewhat off-putting.

Regardless, I had read Stephen King’s fantastic book, On Writing, and in that he states that a writer should produce 2,000 words per day. Ok, I said, that’s what I’ll do. And so I sat down on Day 1, fired up the laptop, grinned at my blank screen and cracked my knuckles.

And I produced about 213 words.

Here’s the thing. Writing is a mental exercise, with heavy emphasis on the word exercise here. Let’s compare it to physical exercise. Let’s say you want to run a 4 minute mile. If you aren’t already a runner, there’s no way you’re going to be able to run that fast for that distance and not have a heart attack. You need to start off slowly, and as your body gets in better shape, you can go faster. Writing is the same way. I found that working up to my target word count was much more effective than trying to hit the target count right out of the gate.

To start my writing regimen, I looked up how long the average urban fantasy novel was, and found it was between 75,000 – 90,000 words. So I made 80,000 words the initial target word count for my novel. That meant that every 800 words I wrote was 1% of the total word count of my book. I set my first goal as writing 400 words/day, and that way I’d have written 1/2 a % of my book every day. Not great, but it was something. It also let me say, “All right, if I write half a percent every day, then in 200 days I’ll be done.” The thing was, it didn’t take long before I could write 800 words in a sitting. A week or two later, I could do 1,200 words, then 1,600, and then I was doing 2,000 – 2,400 words consistently. I found if I really pushed, I could put out 4,000 words in a day. Suddenly I was able to complete a draft in 30 days, instead of 200.

So if you’re just starting out and you’re frustrated with your progress, consider giving this a try.  Set 400 words/day as your goal. If you write more than that, great, but make 400 your target. Do that for a week. Then bump up to 600 words/day for the next week. Each subsequent week, increase the target word count by 200 words/day until you hit your ultimate goal of 2,000 words. And if you find that a particular target is too easy, figure out how many words/day you can do comfortably and increase that by 100-200.

Building up to those X words per day is a lot less frustrating, and much more rewarding when you realize just how much you can do. If you’ve got any productivity tips or tricks to help a writer boost his or her word count, sound off in the comments.