Increasing Word Count, Productivity Tips for Authors, and Beating Writer’s Block

For our fifth episode, we didn’t interview anyone. Instead we talked amongst ourselves about our experiences with improving our productivity. Since it’s the beginning of NaNoWriMo, we thought it might be useful for some listeners. We all have several novels out, and Jo and Jeff have written most of theirs while working a full-time job. I (Lindsay speaking) have been full time for longer, but I’ve definitely improved my own productivity over the years, going from 1-3k a day to 5-10k words a day.

We referenced (awkwardly) Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love, a book you should definitely check out since I kind of mangled the tips from it in the show (I know, you’re dying to watch/listen now, aren’t you?).


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  • This was actually the first one of these podcasts that I watched, and it was a lot of fun. Joseph, I loved your gaming references and watching the xp bar go up. I can totally relate with that. I’m going to have to give Scrivener a try. I’ve been reluctant because I’m a very linear writer. I can’t skip around chapters. My OCD won’t let me. I kept thinking that the whole setup that Scrivener has might be too distracting for me, but I love watching my word count going up as I write.

    I do have a question for all of you that maybe you can cover in a future podcast (if you haven’t done so already). Do you do any editing before sending your manuscript to your betas? I ask cause I have done it both ways and found that if I don’t do edits, I just get back a lot of comments about changes I need to make that I would have done myself anyway. And it always ends up being more work than if I do some edits then send it out. I’m wondering what you guys do and how it works for you.

    Thanks for the great info and good luck to you all with NaNoWriMo. I’m so impressed you guys can say that out loud without getting tongue tied. Lol

    • SFFpodcast

      Thanks for listening, Renee! For myself, I’ll definitely go through the manuscript before sending it off to betas. There’s often some tinkering I want to do with the story, and even if there’s not, I’m the typo queen, so I try to catch some of those before inflicting them on others.

      • Yeah, I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I hate leaving obvious errors before passing it on. It’s cool if they spot something that I dont think should have been obvious to me, but if it should have been obvious, I want to bang my head on the wall. Especially misspellings overlooked by spell check. I don’t get that!

    • Hi Renee! Glad you enjoyed the podcast! Regarding Scrivener, it takes a little bit of getting used to, but I’m warming up to it. My obsession with the word count rising started with a relatively recent version of Word which put the current wordcount of the document in the lower corner, so Scrivener hasn’t got the market cornered in that one.

      Regarding editing before Betas, yes, I always do at least one full pass of my manuscript before I pass it on to betas. In fact, now that I’ve been working with a freelance editor to finish cleaning things up, lately I’ve been telling betas to skip comments on basic grammar and typos, focusing instead on story and the like.

      • I’ve actually started using Scrivener yesterday. I downloaded the NaNoWriMo trial version. Winners can purchase the full version for half price so can’t beat that. I love it so far. Much easier than having a bunch of Word windows open so I can look at my notes while I write.

        I have that version of Word as well, but thanks to Windows 8 it’s glitchy. The Word count freezes and I either have to go into the word count tool or close and reopen the file to get it to work again. I also love that Scrivener keeps track of your session word count as well. Makes life so much easier. I can put away the calculator.

  • Hello, Renee!

    I have tried sending out the story to readers both ways. I’ve had the best results with doing my own set of edits first. Not only does it give me a chance to go through and make any last minute changes but it also keeps me from looking too much like a complete moron who doesn’t know what he’s doing. 🙂

    Thanks for watching!


    • Lol, yeah. I recently sent my betas some work of mine and forgot to do edits. It was after midnight and it slipped my mind. I ended up emailing them about it the following day just to save face.