My tips and tricks for writing a Kindle & Nook book every 4 weeks

by Dana_W
31 replies
I haven't posted on here in ages, and I'm actually not doing IM any more. I make my living writing fiction full time. And I'm not planning on doing a WSO on this, because I am writing under pen names, and thus can't reveal my ranking or sales numbers or any other kind of proof. Also, I'm gonna be honest with you - to make the really big bucks as an author, I don't think it's a simple system that just anyone can do. I couldn't teach someone how to be a bestseller.

I will say this, though - one of the best blog posts I've seen was one that recommended picking the right genre if you want to sell well. I experimented for a couple of years, trying niche after niche until I found what worked for me. And what works for me isn't necessarily what's going to work for others. However, if you want to make it in fiction - I'd say study the Amazon top 100 fiction bestseller list, and see what ends up there again and again, for a start.

Anyway, I got a lot out of the Warrior Forum back in the day, so here's some free info.

1.)The main key to my success, other than the fact that I'm a good writer, is that I write books in popular genres. And I took the time to get to know those genres. I have read many bestsellers in those genres, studied them, analyzed the beginning of the books so I'd know how to write a compelling opening right away, I'd analyze the characteristics and descriptions of the hero and/or the heroine; I'd break down the plot line, the call to action, the complication facing the hero or heroine, the "all is lost" moment, how the protagonist overcomes the "all is lost" moment...So, this was a "get rich very slowly and with a lot of time consuming effort" kinda deal.

2.) I sit down and write out an outline before I start writing. This takes me several days, at least. I figure out who the hero and or heroine is, what problem they are facing, who the villain is, why the villain is doing what he or she is doing, what the protag's "dark night of the soul" moment is, how they will overcome it, and the ending of the story.

Then, I write out a chapter by chapter outline, with a few paragraphs for each chapter.

Then, I set my cell phone timer. I find that working in short 20 to 30 minute bursts is most effective. I write anywhere from 600 to 1200 words in that time period - because I already know what's going to happen. Before I started pre-planning my stories, writing took forever, and I frequently abandoned my stories half way through.

I take a break after each writing mini session, but a short break.

I do at least four sessions a day, sometimes eight. I write almost every day. Usually six days a week. Sometimes every day for 10 or 15 days straight.

I start in the morning. That way even if I have errands and the rest of the day gets away from me, I've always gotten a few thousand words done before I head out.

Within a couple of weeks, I have a rough draft. Set it aside for a few days while plotting out the next book. Go back, revise and add a lot of detail and look for typos. Send it out to a copy editor.

Voila. New full length fiction book every month.
#book #tips #tricks #weeks #writing
  • Profile picture of the author writeaway
    I like the part of the chapter by chapter outline using a timer. I write ebooks very quickly and this is a key part of my secret to my sky-high productivity. PUSH yourself past those slow periods that suck out your energy. That's how a writer's block takes shape. By timing yourself, you get past that energy vacuum. I've reached a point where I can write up to 3 non-fiction ebooks a day. The main drawback is that it has to be within my existing fields of expertise. Otherwise, it can take much longer.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dana_W
      Originally Posted by writeaway View Post

      I like the part of the chapter by chapter outline using a timer. I write ebooks very quickly and this is a key part of my secret to my sky-high productivity. PUSH yourself past those slow periods that suck out your energy. That's how a writer's block takes shape. By timing yourself, you get past that energy vacuum. I've reached a point where I can write up to 3 non-fiction ebooks a day. The main drawback is that it has to be within my existing fields of expertise. Otherwise, it can take much longer.
      Dang, 3 books a day. I thought I was fast.

      For me, I literally never get writer's block, as in, I always know what I need to write next. However, there's a just a certain point by the end of the day where my writing is no good any more. I can write a max of 7000 to 10,000 words in a day. Fiction only. I couldn't write that fast for non fiction.

      Here's another productivity tip - know when you are most productive and/or creative, and do all of your writing then. Some people are night owls. I personally am most productive in the morning. I write first, then do all of my internet surfing, returning emails, etc., in the late afternoon or evening when I'm done writing. I try to schedule all of my appointments, workout appoints, doctor's appointments, etc., later in the day.
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      • Profile picture of the author awesummer
        Originally Posted by Dana_W View Post

        Here's another productivity tip - know when you are most productive and/or creative, and do all of your writing then. Some people are night owls. I personally am most productive in the morning. I write first, then do all of my internet surfing, returning emails, etc., in the late afternoon or evening when I'm done writing. I try to schedule all of my appointments, workout appoints, doctor's appointments, etc., later in the day.
        I have to agree to this. There are times when I find myself more productive. My mind works best after waking up from a nap or from a long sleep. This is when I take advantage on finishing the tasks on my to-do list.
        I think having something that pushes me to work also do the trick for me, like using a productivity tool like Time Doctor.
        We don't have to really follow the rules on productivity. We all have different kinds of things that can motivate us to work better. We just have to figure what that is and stick with it.
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    • Profile picture of the author StevenWT
      writeaway: do you do fiction?
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  • Profile picture of the author onSubie
    Great stuff.

    You don't need to put your whole system out as a WSO - for all the reasons you describe.

    But you have a lot of information you could use to create 'How to' WSO books if you wanted another income stream. I have bought and read a few 'How to write a fiction book' WSOs that were not as good as your short post here.

    One thing a lot of people here ask about is how to write in different niches with pen names.

    How to set-up pen names in Amazon. What you need to 'flesh out' a pen name background - if anything. Is it too complicated?

    Many famous authors wrote under pen names after being famous (only to eventually be discovered by fans or exposed by incompetent lawyers) like Stephen King and JK Rowling.

    Of course you may be too busy writing a novel a month LOL

    Mahlon
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    • Profile picture of the author Dana_W
      Originally Posted by onSubie View Post

      Great stuff.

      You don't need to put your whole system out as a WSO - for all the reasons you describe.

      But you have a lot of information you could use to create 'How to' WSO books if you wanted another income stream. I have bought and read a few 'How to write a fiction book' WSOs that were not as good as your short post here.

      One thing a lot of people here ask about is how to write in different niches with pen names.

      How to set-up pen names in Amazon. What you need to 'flesh out' a pen name background - if anything. Is it too complicated?

      Many famous authors wrote under pen names after being famous (only to eventually be discovered by fans or exposed by incompetent lawyers) like Stephen King and JK Rowling.

      Of course you may be too busy writing a novel a month LOL

      Mahlon
      I actually tell the truth on each of my author pages - I'm just using different parts of my life story. On one author page, I might refer to myself as a "New Yorker who used to work in the journalism industry, and is dangerous addicted to chocolate." On another page, I might refer to myself as a California girl and former emergency room tech who loves to write gripping mysteries. By the way - all of those facts are true, I have lived in both places and held both jobs, but neither of those two descriptions are on my actual author pages - I'm just giving examples of how you can create different author identities and keep it honest.

      Creating pen names on Amazon and B&N is very easy. They just ask you what author name you want to use. On Apple - I don't know how to do it without giving them my real name, so I upload through Draft2Digital.com. (They take 10 percent. Well worth it. I sell quite a lot on Apple and I wouldn't be if I didn't use D2D's service.)

      Also, some people question why you would need to create more than one pen name. After all, each pen name needs their own email, email list, author page on Amazon, promotional efforts...

      The main reason to create different pen names is if you write radically different genres, especially if readers of one genre, say cosy mystery stories, might be shocked or offended by another genre that you write, like erotica. And if you write anything aimed at the under 18 market, and also write books that have sex scenes in them - DEFINITELY have two different pen names and author identities.

      But if what you write is pretty similar - vampire romance, werewolf romance, and urban fantasy, say, or historical cowboy and modern day cowboy - I'd say it makes sense to have one pen name. Keeping up multiple pen names is a lot of time and effort.
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  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    I respect your methods but could never write that way. I do write in a couple of popular fiction categories though. I come up with story ideas all the time. I carry a small voice recorder and capture these ideas along with little tidbits that will make current stories better.

    It's rare for me to plot though I have done it in the past. I will work from notes and sometimes make short outlines. Looking back over my fiction, my best stuff is the books and stories I've written with nothing more than a basic plot hook. I create characters that I know and understand and give them a situation. Then I turn them loose and the story unfolds.

    As for time spent writing, I usually get a minimum of 2000 words a day. I'll often get into the zone and hit 5000 or even more in a session. I think my best day has been 8000+

    I'm a big fan of Stephen King's book, On Writing. I picked it up back in 2001 after it was first published. King talks about writing the way I just described it and I was blown away that a major author actually writes that way. But then I found out many do. I just thought that most authors write from summaries and lots of planning. It was a relief to find out not everyone does.

    I started out with nonfiction and transitioning to fiction has taken some time and adjustments. I haven't had a best seller in fiction yet but do have one in a fairly popular category in nonfiction at the moment. I'll take it.

    Regardless of how you get the words down, the name of the game is to stay at it and to continue to put out quality work. I'll be releasing two short story compilations within the next couple of weeks and a short nonfiction how to ebook.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dana_W
      Originally Posted by travlinguy View Post

      I respect your methods but could never write that way. I do write in a couple of popular fiction categories though. I come up with story ideas all the time. I carry a small voice recorder and capture these ideas along with little tidbits that will make current stories better.

      It's rare for me to plot though I have done it in the past. I will work from notes and sometimes make short outlines. Looking back over my fiction, my best stuff is the books and stories I've written with nothing more than a basic plot hook. I create characters that I know and understand and give them a situation. Then I turn them loose and the story unfolds.

      As for time spent writing, I usually get a minimum of 2000 words a day. I'll often get into the zone and hit 5000 or even more in a session. I think my best day has been 8000+

      I'm a big fan of Stephen King's book, On Writing. I picked it up back in 2001 after it was first published. King talks about writing the way I just described it and I was blown away that a major author actually writes that way. But then I found out many do. I just thought that most authors write from summaries and lots of planning. It was a relief to find out not everyone does.

      I started out with nonfiction and transitioning to fiction has taken some time and adjustments. I haven't had a best seller in fiction yet but do have one in a fairly popular category in nonfiction at the moment. I'll take it.

      Regardless of how you get the words down, the name of the game is to stay at it and to continue to put out quality work. I'll be releasing two short story compilations within the next couple of weeks and a short nonfiction how to ebook.
      Yes, I don't want to make anyone feel bad if they don't outline or plot in advance. Plenty of authors who are absolutely brilliant and incredibly successful, like Stephen King and Tess Gerritsen, hardly pre-plan at all. I don't know how they do it. But they do, and they are bestsellers.

      But a lot of other authors plot the living daylights out of their books, far more than I do, and they are also bestsellers. Jefferey Deaver comes to mind - I read an article by him where he described spending eight months plotting a novel.

      Whatever works for you is the right method.
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      • Profile picture of the author DWolfe
        Thanks for the great post Dana. Interesting how you spelled out each step along the way of how you create a best selling fiction. With the information you and Travlinguy shared, a lot of newbies on the form should take note.

        Instead of asking for help when they arrive, it would be better to follow your steps that you outlined. If that does not work they could try Travlinguy's idea. I'm sure what you have shared could help a lot of people either create a book or long article for a website.
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  • Profile picture of the author LudwigReithofer
    Please can you post a Outline Example?
    .
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    • Profile picture of the author Dana_W
      Originally Posted by LudwigReithofer View Post

      Please can you post a Outline Example?
      .
      An outline example of what?

      I'm about to start my writing stints for the day, but I will expand a little bit on genre. Romance, mystery and thriller seem to be the biggest genres. I personally love science fiction and fantasy, and there are some indie self publishing successes in those genres, but I don't think it's as easy to succeed.

      One of the best things that Willie Crawford ever told me was, find where the traffic is and stand in front of it. I'm probably paraphrasing badly.

      But anyway, to me, I'm writing because I love writing fiction, but also because I want to make money. So I go where the biggest audience is, where people are actively, voraciously looking for new books. By the way, I know erotica was hot for a while, but the big online publishers are making it increasingly hard for readers to find erotica on their websites, and it is waaaaay harder for erotica authors to make a living than it used to be.

      All right, off to write!
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  • Profile picture of the author Rod Cortez
    Great share Dana! It's always great to see how other author's write. I write both fiction and non-fiction, though over the next couple of years I'm going to focus mostly on fiction because it's my passion and it's a great creative outlet for me.

    Like you, I've been getting to know the genres that I write in, by reading other people's books and taking copius amounts of notes. I read a lot of book reviews (do you folks do that?) and I pay attention to all the new releases in the genres I write in.

    I'd say my writing planning style is a cross between Dana's and Travlinguy's......heheeheheh.

    I generally will plot the entire story with a basic outline and I'll create most of the characters and then I start writing. I usualy don't outline my chapters as I have the knack for getting in the writing zone and the chapters seem to create themselves. Right now I'm writing 4 to 5 days a week anywhere from 4 to 10 hours a day, depending on what's going on, how I feel, etc.

    No two books are created the same way and I find that each ebook takes a life of it's own every time I write (and I find that part exciting!). And sometimes, just sometimes, I don't even know what the ending is going to be.

    RoD
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  • Profile picture of the author Elvis Michael
    This is what I am doing, and it seems to work wonders:

    1. I write an outline so I know exactly what I'm going to write. This prevents me from stopping or being stuck while writing.

    2. I fire up the "Write or Die" application -- look it up. It basically keeps you focused by punishing you if you stop writing (by deleting your words after a few seconds of inactivity, for example.)

    3. I write two, 1,300-word sessions in one afternoon. I often repeat this process at night, so I have an average of 5,200 words in a day (as time allows.)

    Some books are longer, while others end at the aforementioned word count (I tend to keep them short and casual depending on genre and plot.) I then proof read and prepare the book cover over the next several days. The good thing about the proof reading stage is that you will often come up with additional ideas, which often increase the book's total word count.

    Once done, I publish the short book.
    EAT, SLEEP, WRITE, REPEAT.
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  • Profile picture of the author tpw
    Originally Posted by Dana_W View Post

    I write anywhere from 600 to 1200 words in that time period - because I already know what's going to happen.

    I think this is the key to any speed-writing.

    If you know where you are going to go with a story -- fiction or non-fiction -- then it takes no time at all to complete your story.

    As you have demonstrated, there is a lot of time that goes into planning your story, but once you are there, the words will just pour out of your brain.


    p.s. Great post and thread.
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    • Profile picture of the author irfanmau
      great story, focus is the key in this post, you willingly to leave online business for this
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  • Profile picture of the author Edward W Smith
    Dana, I have heard it helps to write an ad for the book you are about to write, before you write it. The ad will never be used, but forces you to think about who will buy the book and what they would be looking for. Have you ever used this technique? Thanks, Edward Smith.
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    • Profile picture of the author Dana_W
      Originally Posted by Edward W Smith View Post

      Dana, I have heard it helps to write an ad for the book you are about to write, before you write it. The ad will never be used, but forces you to think about who will buy the book and what they would be looking for. Have you ever used this technique? Thanks, Edward Smith.
      I forgot to mention - I write the blurb for my book first, even before I outline. It's usually about five sentences.

      Here is a great little guide to writing a compelling blurb:
      jimbutcher: Fundamentals--Story Skeletons

      irfanmau - I was totally burnt out on internet marketing. Then I got a job in healthcare which I loved but which paid terribly. I am incredibly relieved that I'm doing well on Amazon, and my big fear is that someday it will slow down, because this is what I absolutely love doing.
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      • Profile picture of the author Rod Cortez
        Originally Posted by Dana_W View Post

        I forgot to mention - I write the blurb for my book first, even before I outline. It's usually about five sentences.

        Here is a great little guide to writing a compelling blurb:
        jimbutcher: Fundamentals--Story Skeletons

        irfanmau - I was totally burnt out on internet marketing. Then I got a job in healthcare which I loved but which paid terribly. I am incredibly relieved that I'm doing well on Amazon, and my big fear is that someday it will slow down, because this is what I absolutely love doing.
        Thank you for the share Dana.

        I've never tried writing the blurb for my book first, I do it afterwards. I'm going to give it the good ole college try.

        Personally, I think publishing on Kindle is here to stay for a long, long time.

        RoD
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  • Profile picture of the author Dana_W
    I hope so, Rod! Let me know how the blurb thing works out.
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    • Profile picture of the author StevenWT
      I'm not a planner, just write (or Dragon talk) the story as it comes out of my brain and then cut and paste revision.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rod Cortez
      Originally Posted by Dana_W View Post

      I hope so, Rod! Let me know how the blurb thing works out.
      The blurb thing has worked out really well. In fact, it worked so well I spent a whole afternoon just writing blurbs! And guess what? I had a bunch of new ideas for new stgries.

      I see a lot of people jumping into writing for Kindle without getting any training first. I think that's a big mistake. There are a lot of subtle nuances when it comes to writing (and promoting) for Kindle, if you don't know what they are you're going to get frustrated.

      Another thing that helps me write a quality ebook fast is after I plan my outline for fiction is using Dragon Naturally Speaking and using my voice to write my ebook. Then I go back and do my editing. Then I have someone else edit the ebook for grammar and spelling.

      Happy Writing!

      RoD
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    • Profile picture of the author Liam Hamer
      Congratulations on your success, Dana Strangely enough, I don't do IM anymore and haven't been here in ages either; so glad I stumbled on this thread on one of my rare visits! Writing fiction for Kindle is something I have been considering myself over the last few months, but to be honest, lack of self-belief and finding the whole thing somewhat intimidating has held me back. Maybe it's time to reevaluate.

      One of the main things that has prevented me from giving this a go, is the whole formatting aspect of it. Do you have any tips or resources you can point me towards that can help?

      I have the time, and I think I have the ability so perhaps I should just give this a go. Thanks for the inspirational and informative thread, and I hope your success continues for a long time to come
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      • Profile picture of the author Rod Cortez
        Originally Posted by Liam Hamer View Post

        Congratulations on your success, Dana Strangely enough, I don't do IM anymore and haven't been here ages either; so glad I stumbled on this thread on one of my rare visits! Writing fiction for Kindle is something I have been considering myself over the last few months, but to be honest, lack of self-belief and finding the whole thing somewhat intimidating has held me back. Maybe it's time to reevaluate.

        One of the main things that has prevented me from giving this a go, is the whole formatting aspect of it. Do you have any tips or resources you can point me towards that can help?

        I have the time, and I think I have the ability so perhaps I should just give this a go. Thanks for the inspirational and informative thread, and I hope your success continues for a long time to come
        Liam, Amazon has a section that goes into formatting. I'm also going to send you a PM on what I think is the best Kindle training out there.

        The formatting of a Kindle ebook is a very minor thing, here is one of Amazon's link:

        https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A2MB3WT2D0PTNK

        And here is a 21 minute YT video which goes into it:


        I was in the exact same boat as you from the outset, but after networking with some Warriors and others in Kindle forums, I saw a lot of regular, average folks doing well on the Kindle platform because they put out quality work, knew how to tell a good story (fiction, of course), and they didn't stop at one book.

        They treated their publishing business like, well, a business. For me, writing for Kindle is a marathon and not a sprint. There is learning curve, but the best advice I could give anyone in your situation is to:

        1. Get some solid Kindle training first.
        2. Get your first quality ebook and/or short story up asap so you can build momentum.
        3. Don't expect best sellers right away and, in fact, I know plenty of people who are doing really well with a handful of books and none of them are best sellers.

        Dana was spot on when she said you've got to get to know your genres if you're going to write fiction. Well, that's marketing 101 right? You've got to know your audience.

        Good luck!

        RoD
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  • Profile picture of the author roley
    Anyone can write.

    Few can write well.

    If you can do both, then more power to you.

    Unfortunately with publishing because it is easy to do it. More folks are shovelling out trash, only focusing on quantity instead of quality.

    4 books in my opinion a year that are great are better than 8 that are ho-hum.

    Just like cream rises to the top eventually, so will bad reviews and no amount of hiding behind pen names will hold that off.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dana_W
    Sorry, hadn't checked this thread for a couple of days. Formatting - I used to use Calibre, a free download, to format my books. These days, I literally just upload my Microsoft Word doc to Amazon and let Amazon do the formatting. Then I check it in the Kindle previewer to make sure it looks good before I publish.

    There are also formatting services. It shouldn't be hard to find someone to format your books for anywhere from $50 to $100 depending on the length of the book.

    Liam, if you enjoy writing fiction, give it a try! You will never know until you try, will you? The first book is the hardest. It gets easier and easier with each book after that. PM me if you have any questions.

    Roley - I do agree, people shouldn't rush out books that aren't well written and well edited. If it takes a person few months to produce a well written, well edited book, than that's what it takes. I am fortunate in that I am a fast writer. I also used to be a daily newspaper reporter, and I got used to writing publishable copy on a deadline.

    However, I also think that there are a lot of good writers out there who could write more quickly, and writing more quickly is what makes you more money.
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  • Profile picture of the author ElainePete
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    • Profile picture of the author Scott Brooks
      I published a kindle book on diet and exercise a few days ago. It took me about three weeks to write it - longer than expected, but I hope to get faster over time. I'm a perfectionist, so I already see one of my greatest challenges will be resisting the temptation to fix little things once the books are published.

      This book is obviously in a highly competitive niche, but I did a lot of research and found less competitive keywords for my title. That's the great thing about crowded niches. They have a lot of keywords from which to choose. I will put in a little work to get reviews, then move on to the next book.
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  • Profile picture of the author celente
    i do not do much work on kindle anymore. But This is an awesome post! makes me want to get back into it.

    Again great post! awesome stuff. Thanks dana lassy. :-)
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    • Profile picture of the author Dani78
      I like your approach, congratulations!
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  • Profile picture of the author eibhlin
    Thanks! Several of your tips are similar to what I've been using for nonfiction. Most of my most successful books (with long-term income) have been completed in a week or less, and -- really -- it is dedication to a schedule. I'm working on something every day.

    A few of us get together at G+ Chats early in the morning and have writing "sprints." That is, we chat for a few minutes, decide on an amount of time to write (20 - 40 minutes, usually), and the timekeeper for the day says, "Go!"

    Then, we're silent because we're writing. When the time is up, the timekeeper posts something to all of us, and we hear the "ding!" at G+ that signals her post. We know we can stop writing and take a break.

    We chat some more, take a snack break (or whatever), and decide how long the next sprint will be... if we're continuing that morning, that is. Otherwise, we agree on our next sprinting session and mark our calendars to be there.

    It's worked very, very well. I completed most of a first draft in five days, using this method. One of the other team members was writing a shorter, erotica book, and she completed it in even less time.

    The sprints help us stay in focus, and also give us a sense of companionship. That prevents the burnout kind of hyperfocus that's so easy to sink into. Also, the group commitment keeps us from wandering off and finding excuses not to write daily.
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