Typing Like A True Novelist? | Some Thoughts On New Writer Mistakes To Avoid Making

Typing Like A True Novelist? | Some Thoughts On New Writer Mistakes To Avoid Making

So, I was over on Reddit, you like I often am, and found this question. And answered it, like I do. However, the answer I initially gave was a simple generic answer. If you want to read my original answer unaltered, simply click on Reddit's embed feature links which Reddit provides for webmasters to be able to post their answers on their websites, while linking back to the original thread on Reddit (if you didn't know Reddit offered and encouraged the use of this feature, look for it in the "share" features underneath every post, comment, and reply on Reddit).

I am answering random questions today about world building, over on Reddit and decided to take my answers from there and expand upon them even further over here. So that's what this page is. Me rambling on about various aspects of world building techniques I use when writing the Quaraun series. The questions I am answering are embedded here. Clicking the link in the embedded question will take you to the original Reddit page where you can see the original answer along with other people's answers. If you wish to comment, you can do so on the Reddit page where a place to do so is provided.

In any case, as with all of my Reddit answers found on my site here, my original post on Reddit is much shorter then the article here.

So how do I sit down, and write till the wee hours in the morning, typing up 10-20 pages at a time like a true novelist? 

When you are just starting out, aim for 750 words a day, written over a period on 3 to 4 writing sessions a day. So, around 200 words per sitting.

>>So how do I sit down, and write till the wee hours in the morning, typing up 10-20 pages at a time like a true novelist?

No beginning writer is going to do this without fast finding themselves in the hospital, with carpal tunnel, pulled wrist muscles, blood clots in fingers, knuckle cramps, water retention at the joints, strains, sprains, and other such things, most of which require surgery to fix and will have your hands in casts for 12 weeks.

Writing is like playing sports. Because it uses a lot of muscles, it requires warm up exercises. Stress balls are good for this.

Also, like sports, never do it for extended periods. Write for no more than 45 minutes max. Then take a minimum 15 minute break.

In addition to hand, wrist, and finger injuries, you also need to be aware of leg, back, and neck issues, caused from extended sitting for too long to a time. Common problems writers are faced with include leg cramps, belly bulge, stiff neck, varicose veins, pinched nerves, slipped discs. All of which are caused by sitting and not moving. Thus every 45 minutes, get up and walk. Do a quick yoga session. Sit ups. Chin ups. Stair stretches. Chair Squats. Walk your dog around the block. Weed your garden. Walk down your driveway and get your mail. Something. Anything. Just get your blood circulating.

Drink A LOT of water. This is VERY, VERY, VERY important. If you are dehydrated, you'll pull the muscles out of your fingers. They will snap in half, right off the bone, require surgery to reattach, and your fingers will be in little funny looking casts for 6 damn months. Been there, done that. Never again. If you want to do high output typing, drink no less then one gallon of water a day. More is better.

I have found that it is best, to buy a 12 pack case of 24oz bottled water. And every hour, drink one. All of it. Then the next day, refill them all, and every hour, drink another one. That's 288oz of water a day. You need to keep your finger muscles "lubricated" so to speak, by making sure that your blood flow is circulating properly. Thus the getting up every 45 minutes, to walk around for 15 minutes AND drinking 24oz of water while you are up waking around.

Know that speed typing takes time and practice and you not going to learn it overnight. The average writer should strive for 35 to 50 words a minute. Programs like Dr. Wicked's Write or Die (free) will help you increase your typing speed.

If you really want to get into high speed typing, then you want to find a local college that offers secretary training courses and take a semester long class in secretarial typing. You'll be using old school typewriters, not computers, for a class like this. So no way to fix your mistakes, thus you need to have very good spelling and grammar prior to taking such a course. You will be required to pass a live timed test at the end the semester - to graduate you will need to type at a speed of 175 words per minute with at least 80% accuracy. The bulk of the course, is you doing half hour of hand exercises, followed by half hour of typing practice - for 4 hours, 3 days a week, for 90 days of classes. You'll want to keep a lot of flexi-ice packs in your freezer, because you are going to need them. Your wrists are going to HURT. You'll be expected to be doing hand exercises and 4 hours of typing practice daily outside of class as well. Like grinding in a video game, this is probably the most boring, grueling class you could ever think to sign up for.

People often look at me flying through NaNoWriMo zipping past 500,000 words in 30 days, and then try to do it as well.


Think of it like trying out for the Olympics. It's not something you jump into and do without training. A LOT of training. YEARS of training.

I'm trained for this.

I took Basic Secretarial Typing, and Advanced Secretarial Typing 1, 2, and 3. I have 4 semesters of training in this type of high speed, long term typing.

That's how ggot an average daily speed of 91 words a minute, almost 5,000 words an hour. Most days I type around 17,000 words a day, because I don't just sit and type the full 8 hours I'm working. In fact I spend a lot more hours a day editing, then I do full stream typing. Keeping in mind, I type with one hand. I had a stroke years ago, my left hand is basically useless. But I didn't always do this. I trained for it. A lot of years of classes and very hard training went into my reaching this point. Also remember, I published my first book 40 years ago, in 1978. I'm not new to this. When I started out I struggled to reach 500 words a day. 3 years after publishing my first novel, I still struggled to reach 700 words a day. It took me a long time and a lot of determined persistence to get where I am.

You can do it, yes. But don't plan on it happening overnight. Plan on training for years and years and years, seeing slow improvement over time. Take it slow and steady. Don't push yourself too fast. You have to build up your muscle strength. Hand muscles are fairly weak compared to the rest of your muscles. It takes them a lot of time to build up the strength for this kind of typing.

I've also have hand surgery 4 times in the past 5 years, have pulled my wrist muscles twice in each arm, in the past 7 years. Frequently have to go in for MRIs to check my bones for fractures. I have to wear wrist braces, most every day of my life, to support my muscles. You wrist muscles are not made for this type of output. Know that the authors who are putting out a lot of work fast, are also dealing with a lot of medical side effects caused by the high level of physical strain they put on their hands, wrists, and forearms.

If you plan to be publishing 4 or 5 novels a year, then definitely seek out the training, but if you only plan to write maybe 1 novel this year, perhaps another novel 5 years from now, don't.

Authors typing up 10-20 pages at a time are NOT beginners, not even close, they are not even intermediates. They are people with very advanced training, years of practice, and are doing this as a full time job, pumping out novels monthly. High output authors are not the norm. Very few writers actually do this. Average authors take 2 years per novels and there's nothing wrong with that.

Do not try to push yourself into high speed, high output writing, until you've done the research to find out the type of training needed to reach that style output. Also check with your doctor before attempting this so of thing, if you do decide to aim for it, because if you have any kind of muscle or blood disorder (like I do - I have Chronic Tendonitis and Parkinson's) you'll need extra training in how to work around this sort of thing.

Don't be fooled by the glamour of being a novelist. Many have a false perception of what a career author's life is like. Few are prepared for the amount of work needed to reach the "dream" they assume novel writing to be.

If you have a story, just write it at your own pace, between work and school and family. If it takes one year, two years, even ten years to finish it, that's perfectly all right.

The only time you want to focus on speed and hgh output, is if you are planning on novel writing as a career, which means you'll also plan to be publishing no fewer then 4 novels a year for the rest of you life. Not many people have that many novels in them. If you think you want to make this a career... then go to college, take secretary typing courses, English Literature courses, Creative Writing courses, Business Ownership courses,and Entrepreneurship courses. Then look into getting into personal training with a focus on strengthening your hand and wrist muscles. You'll want strong wrist muscles that can handle this type of high strain work.

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