Friday, July 6, 2012

Write or Die

People ask me how I'm able to write 5-6 books a year and keep the quality up. (Not to mention teaching and going to school myself) It is a lot of work, but for one thing, it's my job. For another thing, there's plenty of authors who write many more books than I do.

I was in an anthology once with Stephanie Bond and Leslie Kelly and I was whining about having to write five books in one year and when they both told me they were under contract to write 8 books that same year, I felt like such an underachieving slacker!

But besides having a fabulous editorial team at Avon and Harlequin and a husband who runs the household so I can work around the clock if I need to, I do have a secret weapon.

It's a software called Write or Die.

In Write or Die you have to keep your hands moving on the keyboard or there are consequences. You type in how many words you want to write in what length of time. I do 1500 words in 30 minutes.

There's several levels. One is "gentle" mode for the timid. If you stop writing, the computer screen flashes red at you and it won't stop until you start writing again. This one is for newbies and wimps.

Then there is "normal" mode where the computer makes a horrible, obnoxiously loud noise if you don't keep your hands moving. But I say why go for half measures?

I use "kamikaze" mode. If you don't keep your hands moving over the keyboard, the software eats the words starting with the last word you've written. Hence the "die" part of the equation.

There's is an "electric shock" mode, which I think is just a joke, because I tried it once and nothing happened. Is it officially twisted that I actually tried the electric shock mode?

You can also adjust the time frame for when the warning begins. There's forgiving, strict and evil. I use evil, because again, why use half measure? (Can you tell I need pressure to get my work done?)

Anyway, that's my secret weapon. I complete 3-5 (depends on how tight my deadline) Write or Die sessions a day. So on an average day, I write 4500 words in an hour and a half.  Then I have plenty of time to edit the day's output.

I will admit there are times I can't do Write or Die. If I'm stuck in a scene, I know whatever I do that day in Writer or Die will have to be junked, so on those days, I skip Write or Die and it takes me an agonizing 10-12 hours to write the same 4500 words.

There's also something important for newer authors to remember. I didn't start out being able to do this. It to me years to work up to this kind of pace. Don't judge yourself against a veteran author's production schedule. The most important thing is that you write consistently at a pace that works for you at this stage in your career.

So if you want to write, go try Write or Die.

Next Friday, I will have another "secret" weapon tip. I'm thinking of making Friday Craft of Writing Day. Weigh in. Are you for a day devoted to the craft of writing? If you're a reader and could care less about the craft of writing, I want to hear from you too.


  1. Yes, definitely tell us more on your techniques. I love reading about writing.

    I have tried Write or Die. It makes me feel great to get the words down on the page vs. sitting and staring at a blank screen. So many writer friends talk constantly about word count, but to me, if I can't keep the words, what is the use? I found with Write or Die about half of what I write I end up deleting. That's just me. At this stage in my writing career I know it takes me a while to write descriptions.

  2. I figure even if I have to throw half of it away, I'll have a respectable 2250 words in 1 1/2. I layer in description and stuff like that in edits.

  3. Hi Lori! How do you save your work from Write or Die? Do you save it on that program or tranfer it to Word?

    Count me on the "yes please" collumn for Writer's Craft Fridays.

  4. Writing tips are always welcome. Encouragement too!

  5. I love the idea of using Friday's for this! How fun. I'm always amazed by the sheer # of ideas authors can crank out a year. But absolutely getting tips and hints and things to try and then morph into what works for me are always worthwhile. It never ceases to amaze me the little tips and tricks I can pick up that make as aspect of writing that must easier for me.


  6. Oh I forgot to add... If readers aren't interested in the whole craft angle, maybe flip-flop Fridays? Odds for Craft Writing, evens for Reader questions -- everything from "Why did you name your character XYZ in this story?" to favorite ice cream flavor. That way both sides win. :)


  7. Oh wow... I can see me accidentally winging my iPad across the room if I tried Write or Die. I'm too competitive for that so of thing; it's why I gave up video gam back in the day. My blood pressure just can't handle it, LOL... So I'm still impressed by you, Lori. *G*

    Love the writer/reader ideas... :-)