Monday, 21 April 2014

Getting it written, Chuck Wendig style, and Dvorak style

Chuck Wendig 350 words a dayChuck Wendig wrote a great article a while back, worth reading, about getting a routine going for writing. The thrust of the argument is sit your arse down and write, motherfucker, write 350 fucking words five days a week, and you'll get yourself your own novel in less than a goddamn year (maybe I'm paraphrasing, but he does swear a lot).

At the beginning of the year, I came up with an idea for a series of historical novels. I set about the research (despite having taken an interest in my chosen period for over twenty years), joined an academic society focusing on my chosen time, wrote a few pages... and then faltered. I've not really done much work on it since, although I've had the historical events going through my head for over two decades. Perhaps it's the prospect of the huge mountain to climb, a climb at least 80,000 words high, which caused me to grind to a halt with this, but I knew I wasn't going anywhere soon with it, despite setting myself a deadline with it.

Then I remembered Chuck Wendig's article. So I set about reviving my flagging project by pumping just 350 words into it each day. Things started moving again, but it still lacked some momentum.

At around the same time, I also remembered an article by Holly Lisle. It was back to 2000 when I first read it. The article is still there, and it was about the Dvorak keyboard layout.

To channel the spirit of Chuck Wendig, I thought (swear words alert): "Fuck it, let's do it." So today, I took the plunge and I am trying Dvorak. I have been typing much, much slower than normal, and although I only got approximately 500 words done today, in the process of typing much slower, I feel I have been more productive. With each and every word, I have had to not only stop and think about the location of the letters, but also in doing so, I have been able to think more deliberately about the development of the story.

Dvorak keyboard layout

My story has come on a pace to a point where I'm happy with the progress I'm making, thanks to the 'Chuck Wendig 350 daily words, motherfucker" method, and thanks to Dvorak. Although I'm making lots of mistakes with Dvorak, I'm making fewer than I thought I would. All in all, it's definitely a fun experiment, even if I decide to go back to the old QWERTY keyboard layout. In fact, I'm typing this using Dvorak keyboard layout right now.

It's also given me some insight into what my son may be experiencing at the moment. He's of an age where he's learning to write, and he spends hours and hours joyfully writing his name over and over again. It's a bit like that, like learning my letters all over again.

So in conclusion, I have a happy paradox: by slowing right down and only having tiny (350 words) goals, I am actually becoming more productive.

For more information on Dvorak keyboard, click here and here and here.