Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Up for the Test

Copyright Square-Enix

A while back, I made a post that included instructions to write in short bursts.  Sadly, I had completely been ignoring it (and it’s actually pretty good advice).

See, I often sit in front of the glowing screen for a few hours and then manage to get seven words.  After a few times of this, I say to myself, ‘Self, I am disappoint.’  The first draft is supposed to be quick(ish).  With the start of NaNoWriMo (which I do in order to force myself to write a first draft faster, and they have a cool word count stat thingie), I decided to improve on my seven words in three hours speed.  But first, I had to get a more accurate recording of how many words I actually wrote in three hours.  Not having three hours, I decided to time myself for thirty minutes and see how many words I could get.

Challenge accepted.

So I smashed out as many words as I could, my only criteria being that they had to be parts of coherent sentences and that they had to be vaguely part of the story.  In the end I got seven hundred and forty three.  Which is more than I usually do in an hour.  This presented the problem that often occurs with me.  I always perform better in tests (even if I’m the only one present) than I do normally.  I.e. I can never do one of those monkey puzzle tests where they tell you your personality type, because I try to figure out which one of the options will lead me to the result that I want.  Ergo, they are never accurate.

So I redid the test, this time for ten minutes.  Three hundred words.  That means nine hundred in thirty minutes.  I did even better.

With several more tests, I came to this conclusion.  I consistently performed better when put under a time limit, whether my own or not, than when I just wrote with no time limit in mind.  Also (to a point), the less time I have, the better I perform.  Ergo, I must conclude that writing in short self-timed bursts are most effective for me, even if I have a three hour gap open in which to write.

The point?  Use your weaknesses to your advantage.  Mine is that I (for some reason) want to impress myself.  I use that by letting myself test myself.  If you have the need to impress your second cousin twice removed, tell him that you’re going to write 50 000 words in a month.  If you like impressing your cat, let her sit on your lap and continually report your progress.


  1. Oh, wow, I love this! I think it's important to figure out what works best for you. I do not work well under time restraints, but I think I might try again with my current project because it's seriously just going way too slow.

  2. It's interesting, I also don't do well under time constraints, if someone else puts them to me or there are repercussions if I don't make them. But self-timed sessions where nothing happens, even if I get only two words, I seem to do pretty well.

    But every person has a method that works for them, and the key is to find that one.