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On writing Fast

Near the end of last week’s blog post, I alluded to the fact that you should be writing 1000 words an hour, and I stand behind that number. In fact, I double it, fold my arms, and stare you down into your side of the room because of my moral superiority.

2000 words an hour? That’s right, and you could technically do more if you put your mind to it. Or don’t put your mind to it, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’m a busy man. I work for a living, IT, which frequently involves off-hour work, on-call schedules, patching, and myriad of other things. 60 hour work weeks are pretty normal. I have a wife. I have children, with lots of homework each night. I enjoy playing video games. I have a couple of my favorite shows I can’t miss, you know—normal person stuff. I don’t have a lot of time for writing each day, so I have to make the most of what time I do have.

My daughter, 16, is also doing NaNoWriMo with me this year. On weekends when we finally have some time to write together, she comments that I type quickly.

I asked her how fast she typed. Being of a generation that doesn’t take typing classes in school, she had never figured it out, so I challenged her. We found an online typing test and we took the test at the same time. She was around 60 words a minute, I came in a little higher at 70, but for the sake of this argument, let’s stick with 60 wpm.

I told her 60 wpm means if you typed for a solid hour with no breaks, you could reach 3600 words.

I usually write in 45 minute sprints then take 15 minutes to get a drink, take a short walk, refocus my eyes and what not. (You should be taking breaks from the computer).

60 wpm times 45 minutes is 2700 words per hour. See? 2000 words an hour, easily.

“But Tom!” You say.

And I fold my arms even harder and glare at you.

I know, I know. It’s hard to write at one word per second for a solid hour. I get it. It’s not impossible though.

There are three major things I do to help:

1. Plan ahead. Do some outlining, even if it’s a single paragraph telling you what will happen to the character that chapter. Something so you know where you are going with your story when sit down. I personally outline more than that, usually 3 paragraphs per chapter, and I also read the outline each day before I sit down to write so I know where I’m going today.

2. Re-read what you wrote the day before. This is something new I’ve done recently. It gets you focused on where your immediate story has been, so your mind is in the zone for what you need to write right now.

Advanced tip: take notes on a separate piece of paper, note issues you have or anything you already know you want to change. When you start writing you’ll keep the revised notes in your head and you can write like you had already edited the previous day’s content.

3. Write non-stop. This is the tough part, I know, but it is possible. Remember when I said don’t put your mind to it? That’s one of the tricks here. Fix it all in editing phase. Treat your daily writing sprint like it’s NaNoWriMo. Spew the words down on the page, you can always fix it later.

So does this work all the time?

Of course not. But I can get over 1000 words an hour most days. 2000 a couple times a week. I’ve even hit 3800 one time when I was really ‘in the zone’.

I have days where each word is a struggle too, where I’m lucky to hit 200 words. I will blog about tricks to get yourself writing next week.

The point of all this rambling math was to put words per hour into perspective. We all type much faster than we need to because our brains rarely keep up with our fingers. It’s important to realize that, if you turn off your internal editor and just let your fingers do the typing, it’s quite possible to attain 2000 in an hour.

For now though, I should be writing because *ahem* I’m behind on my NaNoWriMo word count for the month.

Are you ready for Nano? #AmWriting #NanoWriMo


National Novel Writing Month.


Write 50,000 words in one month. Around the holidays.

That’s an average of approximately 1, 667 words per day.

I’ve attempted Nano three times, and succeeded twice. The first time, well, lets just say the results weren’t pretty. What helped me win was preparing before the month began – but then, I’m a plotter, LOL.

What I like best about Nano, though, isn’t whether I hit the word count or not, but diving into the habit of daily writing with specific goals in mind.

This year, I have a small goal. Write every day except for Sundays, and Thanksgiving. I’m not concerned with making the 50k, but I’m going to try for it 😀

With the last few months researching and building a new world and a new series, hopefully I’m prepared!

So, who’s doing Nano this year?

Have you done it before? How do you get ready for the push?


And if you’re interested, I’m higleyb on the Nano website if you’d like to add me as a friend


~Amber Kallyn

Back to school anyone? #AmWriting

Back to schoolYup, its that time again.

School supplies, school clothes, school schedules… (x 4 kids) LOL

It also means days that are more open. Time to get back to BICHOK.

(Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard)

And this summer, I’ve finally accompished finishing/organizing/setting up my office space (See HERE). Back to my writing goals.

So, my Q4U: Do you enjoy the hectic rush that is back to school, or does the calm later in August seem too far away? 😀

~ Amber Kallyn

What do you need in your office space? #AmWriting

Desk Area What’s your writing area like?

I have to admit that it took me longer than it should have, but finally this summer I set up my “Office Area”, LOL. First time in my life I have a dedicated space for writing 😀 even if it is in my bedroom.

One day, I’ll have a whole room.

Writing bookshelves and wallThe first picture is my desk area. It’s not full at the moment, but it will get filled up with notes and scraps and stickies soon!

The second picture is the wall right next to my desk. Pictures for inspiration, and shelves for… erm, *most* of my books on writing/time periods/civilizations for research.

I figure some things will be moved around as I settle in, and that’s okay. I’m going to love digging in 😀


So, my Q4U: What is at least one necessity you NEED in your office space?

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo? Here’s some links to check out…

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)

It’s that time of year again, rushing up fast to knock us on our ass.

50,000 words in one month.

Not just any month, but November, with the begining of the end-of-the-year holdiays, Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping… yeesh.

So how do you write 50k in one busy month?

Planning. At least that’s the key for me.

How much planning do you need? That depends on if you’re a pantser or a plotter.

I round up some links you might enjoy checking out to gear up in prep for NaNo.

Kristen Lamb has a whole Nano series going on last week, from making sure you have a road map, to getting to know your characters.

Jami Gold discusses Fast Drafting (as created by Candace Havens)

And an interesting post I found discussing NaNo ~vs~ Fast Drafting by Tori MacAllister, written last November.

~ Enjoy and happy planning

Hurdles and Brick Walls #AmWriting

There comes a point in every book, at least for me, where I run into a brick wall.

Like, from writing smoothly to dead stop.

Sometimes it’s the dreaded (and ambiguous) writer’s block, but more often than not, for me, it’s the sagging middle syndrome.

I only do a brief, skimpy outline. I have to have it, but I don’t like to get super detailed, and it’s never set in concrete. Which means that by the time I reach the 50-60% mark of the book, I find I’ve deviated so much, I need to re-track and see exactly how I want to get to the end (which usually writes itself for me).

This time, though, I’m at the 75% mark–which is usually where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and the writing flows. Ya know, climatic fight scenes and resolution of the characters.

I couldn’t believe it.

I thought I’d skipped the wall this time.

Needless to say, my weekend plans of sprinting and *hoping* if not to finish the book, then to actually be damn close, went up in smoke.

It took me a read through of what I’ve written so far, and two days of muttering, wandering aimlessly, and trying to chisel brick, but I finally figured it out.

The pacing is off. My characters are doing things way too fast.

Which means, I need to go back and add quite a few scenes in what I have written.

And that means, yup, I am really only about 50% of the way through the book.

The brick wall hit at the right time, it just seemed wrong because I thought I was closer to the finish line than I truly am.

But at least now, that brick wall is a lot shorter. Short enough for me to jump over it : )


Greetings and Salutations loyal readers of the blog,

Today I will be paying homage to one member of my critique group. She will know who she is, but I will keep her name out of it for now. Among the many things I hear during our working sessions is, “Was is not a verb.” Because I don’t edit while I ‘m writing, I didn’t know how bad my use of was is. This past week I opened a short story I wrote some time ago. The story in question is 7,000 words over 22 pages. Was occurs 72 times. That’s 1% of all the words in the story. waswaswaswaswaswas. when you line them up they aren’t impressive are they? They are no more impressive when you sprinkle them throughout a piece. In fact they take a good story and water it down to the point that nothing sticks in the colander of your brain after you’ve read it.

To all the people I’ve asked to read those stories, professional and personal, I apologize for my laziness. I believe that the story is first and foremost the most important component of writing. That said, it is a grave injustice to seed a good story with poor word choices. I’d like to think I know better and yet after doing one simple word search I have to admit the evidence shows otherwise. Improvement is something I strive for every time I sit down to write. It would seem I have plenty of room for growth.

I pledge to do a better job in the future selecting words. There is no shortage of words to choose from. Leaving me with no defense. Slothfulness is my sin.

If you write, take heed of my dilemma and try not to fall into the trap of using the easy choice. Aim higher than what comes too easily. Language is the most important tool in the writer’s tool kit. Treat it with respect, oil it, sharpen it, and keep it close to hand. A well used tool fits comfortably in the hand  of the craftsman who utilizes it often.

I’ll leave you with this quotation.

“Words are sacred.  They deserve respect.  If you get the right ones in the right order you can nudge the world.” Tom Stoppared

Write On,

Eerie Dwarf

Editing Requires Motivation

Lately, I’ve been having trouble focusing on just one thing.  I think, mainly, because I am avoiding my book.  You see, I just recently “finished” the first book in my new series, but as pointed out by some of my group members, there are a couple of big things I need to fix.  These things will require a great deal of patience, and a great deal of editing.

I know it needs to be done, but I’m struggling with doing it.  This is because during Nano I also started on the second book in my series, which is still at that glorious beginning stage when everything is just about writing and creating, not about editing.  I’ve also started working on a couple of short stories.  They were exercises in trying new and different writing styles, and I feel they are valuable projects, if nothing else, to expand my writing abilities.  All of this, however, gets me back to my main issue: I think I might be avoiding my first book.

My first book needs work, as most first drafts do.  I need to sit down with it for a few hours at a time and read it from beginning to end, working out any inconsistencies, timeline issues, character motivations, and even making certain that the relationships work.  This is the part of editing I really don’t enjoy.  I don’t mind combing through a book for grammatical issues, but it is adding these essential things, in just the right amounts, that tends to stress me out.

I know there are probably more organized, less time consuming, ways to go about editing a novel, but this seems to be the only way that works for me… if only I don’t avoid the mountain of work awaiting me.


Greetings and Salutations loyal readers of the blog,

Last Friday was the first full moon of the new year and traditionally the Werewolf Monks preview their new wine then.  This years first full moon



has been called appropriately, the Full Wolf Moon.  As it happens Wicked Dwarf’s birthday fell on the next day so we combined the occasions by heading up to the Monastery for a party and a wine tasting.  The new wine is a dry red with a heady bouquet of cinnamon and cloves combined with the woodsy finish it was more than palatable.  It is titled Shadows Moon and its official release will coincide with the release of Jami Grey’s new novel by the same title.  That date has not been set, but we’re all looking forward to book three of the Kyn Kronicals, and of course  more wine.  I’ll keep you updated on when that is.  The wine was a big hit and many a bottle was emptied.  I had to carry Mischievous Raven home because he was to sauced to fly.  I believe Wicked, The Night In Slightly Muddy Armor, and some others had to spend the night at the monastery to sleep off the effects.

In other news around the Swamp, Anna Conda has returned from filming a new project for the BBC.  I for one am glad to see her gliding through the swamp again.  Anna’s passion is painting and she is planning a one woman/snake show down at The Swamp Shack next month.  I’ll keep you posted on that as well.

Today’s topic if you haven’t already guessed is distractions.

dis-trac-tion |disˈtrakSHən|

nouna thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else: the company found passenger travel a distraction from the main business of moving freight.• a diversion or recreation: there are plenty of distractions such as sailing.extreme agitation of the mind or emotions: he knew she was nervous by her uncharacteristic air of distraction.

Although I started the year with good intentions around focussing on writing I have been distracted.  A lot of my distractions are legitimate ones, such as work, the kind I get paid for and the kind I do around the cave.  This is not a bad thing, it is just a thing.  A thing as it says above, that prevents me from giving full attention to something else.  Writing namely.  This makes me irritable and discontent at times.  Making me a hard person to be around.

I can also be drawn away by any shiny object that rolls across my path.  This is worse than the above distractions because, I should be able to  control those impulses.  However I’m much like the dogs in the movie UP, when someone yells squirrel I’m off and running.  When I finally get back to writing I’m wearing the “cone of shame.”  (another reference from Up.)  The cone of shame itself is another distraction because it’s hard to concentrate with that thing hanging around your head.

All of which brings me to the start of a new month and a renewed commitment to get some writing done. Follow through on my final edits on the last novel and submit it around to publishers.  

Here’s what I am trying to take away from January.  One, when positive distractions occur, buck up, get them done and get back to writing.  When the someone yells squirrel and you lose a day running around looking for it, let that go, pass on the cone of shame and get back to writing.  Life happens to everyone and sometimes your priorities must shift.  Keep your priorities in the right order, then get back to writing.  Because writing is what we do, but it’s not who we are.

Todays quote comes from a gentleman from my home town.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”  Benjamin Franklin

Write On,

Eerie Dwarf

I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive,

Greetings and Salutations,

Allow me to paraphrase the great James Brown, I’m back and I’m proud.  First let’s get all of  the excuses out of the way.  Of course I was on vacation through the beginning of October, then the let down at coming home and of course jet lag took its toll.  And that was October.  In November I participated in NANOWRIMO, I did not make the goal of 50,000 words, but I did write.  And that my friends is what it’s really all about.   Half-way through November my bipolar disorder’s misshapen form crawled from the ooze it lurks in and I sunk into a depression, that thanks to the Mrs. Eerie, my friends, and my docs I don’t have to experience very often these days.  The effects of that depression are slowly waning and I’m feeling much more my self today.  The strain of the holidays and life and frankly some laziness filled out the rest of December.  And now here I am.

The rest of the Evil Seven carried on in my absence and we’ve even had a prestigious visitor to the Swamp in the form of C.E. Murphy.  Thanks to the hard work of Wicked Dwarf and Red Dwarf.  I must mention here that Mischievous Raven is a big fan of Ms. Murphy and thinks that he somehow inspired her book Raven’s Call.  Be sure to check that out when you’re cashing in your gift cards at bookstores, virtual and real.

Mischievous will be stopping by later to say hi and he will bring you up to date on all the news around the Swamp.  Until then let’s talk about writing.  There was a time when I wrote with a word count goal in mind.  I stopped doing that at some point, telling myself quality over quantity should be my goal.  The problem with that is it allowed me to become undisciplined.  I learned this lesson only after I was coerced, pressured, compelled, threatened, intimidated, dragooned, and railroaded into participating in NANO this year by the Evil Seven (it was mostly Snarky and her glossy Whip).  A writer writes, it is what we do.  If we are making excuses NOT to write then we are (let’s all say it together) NOT writers.  A published author once told me that you can’t fix a blank page.  And yet I allowed myself to drift into the realm of writing so little, I had mostly blank pages.  This year I have several objectives in mind, but the top of the list is to write with a goal.  Not an abstract suggestion, but a real number.  It may come in the form of hours or words I’m not sure yet, but it’s going to be quantitative.  And I’m giving the Evil Seven (I may regret this later) permission to hold me accountable.  Yes, that includes Snarky, and her whip too.

Hey Mischievous good to see say hi to our visitors.

“Greetings everyone.  It’s good to see you all.  Eerie, if I were you I’d wrap this up and get out of here Swamp Thing is looking for you and sheOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA does not look happy.”

How can you tell, she never looks happy.

“Trust me on this you do not want to be here when she arrives unless you have a carload of raw meat you can distract her with.  I’m outta here.”

Well it looks like I’ve got to be going.  Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll be back next Friday and we can talk about the Mayan Calender debacle and the new year.

Until then, as is our custom on Friday, I’ll leave you with a quotation.

“Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you land among the stars”  Les Brown

Write On,


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