How I wrote over 1k words in 20 minutes

Well, I did it.

I started this crazy challenge of 12 books in 12 months last August, writing & publishing at least one book a month and completed it August 15, 2019, with The Secret Prince at 40,025 words. I’ll actually have published 14 books but two are 20k and 30k words respectively. I write contemporary romance with cowboys, billionaires, and royals. Most of my books are at 50k and some are at 40k. I am publishing this one late August / early September.

Fun thing is, I also set a new sprinting personal record: 1069 words in 20 minutes. I don’t do dictation. I had been sprinting 400 words on the average in 20 minutes; at most, 700 words, maybe 800, on a really, really good day. Last night, I sustained 1k or more through at least 6 successive 20-minute sprints. Breaking the 1k barrier felt like unlocking another storytelling dimension.

What helped me break my personal record:

■ Sprinting with other night owls, early birds and in-betweens.

■ A hard deadline. I needed to get this to my editor.

■ I was talking with a fellow sprinter who said she gets over 900 words in 20 minutes, so I thought I would aim for that at least. When I got past 900, I thought, why not aim for at least 1000?

■ I opened up a different file for each sprint and wrote a scene to the end in that 20 minute sprint. I watched the word counter in the bottom left corner and aimed to cross 1k each time.

■ I had a rough idea of the scene, but only wrote prompts like “Go to Burano.” Or, “Proposal scene.”

■ If I couldn’t think of a word or a series detail, I put a _______.

■ I stood at the kitchen bar and pounded away on my laptop. Standing made fast-typing easier for me. I think it helps with the angle of my elbows which avoids wrist strain.

■ Some scenes were only halfway by the end of the sprint in which case I then continued it in a different file.

■ My scenes were full of humor, emotion or setting.

■ The dialogue was lively, often with banter or confrontation.

■ I did not let up on the keyboard. If I messed up I hit the backspace sparingly, telling myself I could catch it all later on spell check. Just typed, typed, typed.

■ I did not hem and haw, letting the story pour out in a dream state.

■ I started my 1k sprints at 9 p.m. and finished at 12:30 a.m. I sprinted 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off. It is mentally exhausting to keep up that kind of output, sprint after sprint. I think a brief sustained effort works best at those word count amounts.

■ I was motivated because I was nearing the end of my manuscript. This always works as a carrot stick for me. ❤️

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