Productivity 2.0

Recently I raved about Chris Fox’s brilliant “sprint” method of writing, an approach that has allowed me to quadruple my output of new fiction words. I thought it would be a good idea to post those word counts here so that others could see just how doable it is.

So here are screenshots of my spreadsheet, broken down by the partial month of August and up through the most recent day of September:

sprint_screen_shot_Aug

sprint_screenshot_Sep

After a month of this approach I can say that I’m just as motivated as I was when I started. In fact, I might even be more excited about it now, especially after I’ve seen what I can accomplish.

I’m also finding that I’m producing better first drafts because of writing faster. I can keep more of the story in my head due to the fact that I’m so consistently (and recently) involved with it. I can immerse myself in the world each and every day, until the story is finished. This, by the way, also makes the writing fun, the whole reason for doing this in the first place.

Where I’m finding that I’m slowing down is in the revisions. Because I keep feeding the “word machine” fresh outlines each morning, I’m producing more content than I can revise. I don’t know that I’ve cracked that particular nut quite yet, but I’m leaning toward Dean Wesley Smith’s approach of little to no revision. Yeah, I know. Writing is rewriting and all that jazz…or maybe it’s not. Think on that one for a while.

I think I’m going to try the first draft/one revision approach and be done with it. After that it’ll go off to my editor. Maybe it won’t be “perfect” (whatever that is), but perfect is boring. And who the hell wants to read a boring book?

I’ll update later and let you know how this approach continues to work out. Until next time stay well and buy my crap.

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4 thoughts on “Productivity 2.0

  1. Cebyam September 15, 2015 / 3:33 am

    Good work! The data nerd in me loves your spreadsheets. So detailed! I might have to steal them…

    • Brian J. Jarrett September 15, 2015 / 5:07 am

      Absolutely! I’m a programmer by day, so being a data nerd is an occupational hazard. I can surely email you a template if you like. Just let me know. I find the act of measuring pushes me to write harder and makes it kinda fun. Like trying to beat one’s own high score. 🙂

      I no longer set word count quotas…I find that’s actually limiting. I now set sprint quotas. Two, thirty-minute sprints per day, every day. The goal of the sprint is to write as many words as possible during the time period. I used to be able to write 800-1000 words per hour…now I can write that many in half the time. And since I have to hit my two-sprint quota each day, my total word production is way up. I write about 1,500 words per day versus around 350 per day, my average before doing the sprints.

      Another critical piece to this puzzle is that I write in the mornings when no one else is up. Distractions will absolutely kill your productivity, so removing them is key. I’m up at 4:45 on weekdays, producing new words. I don’t get up early on weekends, but I still have to hit my two-sprint quota. By end of week those words add up really quickly.

      I can’t say enough good things about this approach. Pick up Chris Fox’s book “5,000 Words Per Hour” for more detailed info. It’s worth it!

  2. Cebyam September 16, 2015 / 5:17 am

    That would be great! Would love the template. I have his app, but I honestly haven’t used it much yet. I should. I’m teaching at the moment, and free-time is limited.

    Have you always been a morning person? I seem to be when necessary, but I’ve struggled so far in life to keep it up for long. Although, I’m a bit warped – my partner works evenings, so I usually get a fair bit of quiet at home until around 10am (as long as I’m home to actually enjoy it!)

    • Brian J. Jarrett October 14, 2015 / 7:46 am

      Shoot me a message here (http://brianjjarrett.com/contact/) and include your email address. I’ll send over my spreadsheet. Let me know what format works best (Excel, Numbers, OpenDoc, etc).

      I’ve never been a morning person, but I’m realizing now that I’m much sharper and focused in the morning. Maybe it’s because I have a technical day job that forces me to use my brain a lot or because my kids have me frazzled by the end of the day. Either way, getting up early is working spectacularly well for me.

      For the past two months I’ve been waking up at 4:45 a.m. and knocking out two 30-minute sprints each and every day. I still average around 1,500 words per day. Two months later I’ve finished four projects and I’ve just started a new novel. I’m about to hit 100,000 words written in this time period. Chris’s method absolutely kills it. Hands down the best thing I’ve ever done for my writing.

      I completely understand not having the time. Evenings are effectively a lost cause for me. Between the kids’ homework and everything else going on, forget about it. But by 6:00 a.m. I already have 1500+ words written for the day, so my days are never a loss anymore. Sure, I have to get up early to do it, but nobody ever said it’d be easy. Sometimes you just gotta make that sacrifice, depending on how important it is to you.

      I’ve recently introduced revision sprints into my routine, which I’ll talk about in an upcoming post. Basically I do one 30-minute revision sprint each day now, usually over lunch at work. That’s helping me keep up with the onslaught of new words I’m producing each day. It’s a quality problem, I know, but one that had to be solved. So far, it’s working pretty well. I should be shipping off my novella manuscript to my editor within a week or so.

      Thanks for the comment and sorry for the delay. I need to make sure I check in more often here. Good luck with your writing. I hope the sprint method works out for you as well as it has for me.

      Brian

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