Keli Gwyn
Flashback Friday: Board Games

I enjoyed playing board games when I was a kid.

Two of my favorites were Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. When I got older, my sisters and I would duke it out at Monopoly and Parcheesi. In college I discovered backgammon.

All of these games are enduring classics. Just last week I enjoyed a play date with my sweet little six-year-old neighbor girl, and she brought over Chutes and Ladders. I was whisked back in time and had a blast.

What board games did you enjoy when you were younger? Are they still around today?

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Keli Gwyn
Tips from Rapid Writer Erica Vetsch: Increasing Your Productivity

Do you want to learn to put more words on the page? I do, so I invited my friend, agency mate, and publishing company pal Erica Vetsch to share some tips. She’s one of the fastest and most prolific writers I know, and we get to see how she does it.

Ready. Set. Go!

Tips from Rapid Writer Erica Vetsch: Increasing Your Productivity

by Erica Vetsch

Isaac Asimov has been credited as saying, “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”

I think I know a little bit how he felt. I’ve developed a bit of a reputation amongst my writing friends as being a fast writer, though it never feels as if I’m accomplishing enough or getting enough words written. Though I’ll never be as fast as I’d like, I have found a few things increase my productivity, and Keli has graciously invited me to share them with you here.

1. Find your sweet spot. Find the place that is most conducive to making you productive. For me, this means I have to get out of my house. (The second I finished typing that last line, the washing machine signaled it was finished, my kids broke up each other laughing at something that tickled them, my husband went by on the tractor-lawnmower, and the Twins, on television, just had a player steal third!) I have to get out of the house to minimize these distractions and focus on that word count. My writing place of choice is Caribou Coffee shop. I’m a bit like Norm from Cheers. They know my name there and start making my tea even before I order it. 🙂 Here are a few of the reasons that for me, writing away from home is more productive.

•Fewer distractions.

•I feel like I have to justify my time away and the expense of a glass of iced tea by producing something on my WIP.

•I’ve established a habit. My brain kicks into writing mode when I fire up the laptop at the coffee shop. When I fire it up at home, my brain kicks into spider solitaire mode. 🙂

2. Find your stride. Find your breakthrough point. This is the number of words you have to get written in order to really get into the flow. Some people can write in five minute snatches throughout the day, but I’m not amongst that group. I need a block of time to devote to writing, and fortunately, I’m able to spend most weekday afternoons writing fiction. This is good for me because I don’t hit my writing stride until I’ve written about 800-1000 words. After that, I’m so deep into the story, the words flow almost as fast as I can type them. Up to that point, it’s like pushing marbles through molasses with my nose. Messy, and not very productive.

3. Find your shot in the arm. I don’t know about you, but I love to hear ‘atta-girl.’ I respond well to affirmation. I’m also a wee bit competitive. I write better when I’m pitting my ability against someone/something. Here are a few ways I’ve found to get motivated to write fast.

• Set word count goals for the month, week, day, hour. I’m a goal-oriented person and setting goals motivates me to meet or exceed them.

• Word Count Meter on my blog. This is the meter that I use: Svenja’s Word Count Meter, but there are lots of them out there.

• Having this visible reminder of my progress spurs me to write more.
Twitter. Particularly Twitter’s #1k1hr challenges. Using this hash-tag, I can connect with other writers whose goal is to write one thousand words in one hour or less. I can almost always find someone willing to step up to the challenge at the same time I am, and after an hour, we report our progress. Often, twitter-friends who aren’t participating at that time will comment, congratulate, cajole or commiserate. It helps me feel less isolated and part of a family/community that is rooting for me. I read a tweet recently (sorry I can’t remember who wrote it) that said ‘#1k1hr. Because I can’t find 6 cheerleaders to stand behind my computer while I write, but I can find 6 1k1hr buddies to cheer me on.’

Though the words don’t always flow freely (last week I compared the beginning of a writing session to separating wild rice from white rice one grain at a time using tweezers) I’ve found that if I follow the points above, the chances of my racking up a respectable word count go up exponentially. I hope you can take one or more of these ideas and craft them to fit your writing style. Maybe you’ll find yourself becoming a more Rapid Writer!

• • •

About me: Though I have set aside my career teaching history to high school students in order to home school my own kids, my love of history hasn’t faded. My favorite books are historical novels and history books, and one of my greatest thrills is stumbling across some obscure historical factoid that makes my imagination leap. I’m continually amazed at how God allows me to use my passion for history, romance, and daydreaming to craft historical romances to entertain readers and glorify Him.

Whenever I’m not following flights of fancy in my fictional world, I’m company bookkeeper for our family lumber business, mother of two terrific teens, wife to a man who is my total opposite and yet my soul-mate, and avid museum patron.

My latest release: Idaho Brides – Experience the Wild West through the eyes of the three McConnell brothers who long to overcome their troubled childhood as drunkard’s sons. Can Alec show that he’s worthy of the ranch boss’s daughter? Can Trace help a distraught woman trust again? Will Cal prove his innocence to a U. S. Marshal in disguise? Will they each find a woman with whom they can trust their tender hearts?

Contact info:

My Blog: On the Write Path
My Facebook Page: Erica Vetsch
My Twitter Profile: @EricaVetsch

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Keli Gwyn
A Tortoise Writer Picks Up the Pace

Yes. I confess. I’m a member of the Tortoise Writers Club.

I’m not alone. I’ve met other writers who admit to membership in the club, which goes by other names. Some call it the Turtle Writers Club. One friend came up with a great name: Ninja Writers. I could get into that. After all, I do battle with words all too frequently. 🙂

So, what is a Tortoise Writer? Think of The Tortoise and the Hare, one of Aesop’s fables. I’m the slow but steady one of the two, plodding along day after day while some of my writer friends produce words with the speed of the hare.

The comparison stops there, though. Both tortoise and hare writers get the job done. We just go about it differently.

One day last week, I decided to see if I could pick up the pace. I’d seen many of my Rapid Writer friends participate in the #1k1hr challenge on Twitter.

The first time I saw that hashtag, I had no clue what it was. The # is what we in the Twitterverse refer to as a hashtag. Those on Twitter can follow others using the same hashtags, thus creating a sense of community. The 1k1hr means 1,000 words in one hour.

Those who choose to participate in #1k1hr post a tweet using the hashtag and write like the wind. Or try to. For me I was sure it would be more of a gentle breeze.

Since I’m a tortoise writer, I did everything I could to set myself up for success. Here are some steps I took:

  • Filled the cat’s food dishes
  • Refilled my glass of sweet tea
  • Closed my email program
  • Opened my WIP to the place where I’d left off
  • Jotted down my beginning word count
  • Started my writing music playing on iTunes
  • Finished my Ready. Set. Go! #1k1hr tweet
  • Set the timer for one hour

I took a deep breath, sent my tweet, and started the timer. And I typed as fast as I could.

As I worked, I noticed some things that could have slowed my progress:

  • Opening my thesaurus to find the perfect word
  • Searching Google Books to see if a word was used in my story’s time period
  • Spending time coming up with a gesture to serve as a beat
  • Figuring out a way to work in some sensory detail
  • Choosing a name for a minor character

Since I was racing against the clock, I did something I don’t usually do. I forced myself to forgo my perfectionist tendencies and forged ahead. Instead of taking time to deal with the issues listed above, I made notes to myself in the manuscript in all CAPs and kept going.

  • INSERT ADJECTIVE
  • CHECK TIME PERIOD USAGE
  • ADD A BEAT
  • INPUT SENSORY DETAIL HERE
  • CHOOSE A NAME

When the timer went off an hour later, I did the subtraction and found that I’d added 806 words to my WIP. I didn’t make my goal of 1,000 words, but I made significant progress. Several of my new #1k1hr buddies checked back to see how I’d done and congratulated me on my efforts, which was encouraging.

I’ve discovered a useful tool, one I’ll take advantage of on occasion. I produced more words than I would have done normally. Granted they were messy, but I had something to edit, a task I enjoy even more than writing a first draft.

If you’re on Twitter and haven’t tried #1k1hr, I encourage you to give it a whirl.

• • •

 

On Wednesday one of my writer friends, Erica Vetsch, who regularly rocks #1k1hr will be my guest. She’ll be sharing more tools for increasing our productivity. Check it out.
• • •

Are you a Tortoise Writer or a Rapid Writer?

Have you ever participated in #1k1hr? If so, what was your experience?

What distractions can slow you down when you’re working on a first draft?

image from istockphoto
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Keli Gwyn
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