Some of you may already know about Dr. Wicked's Write or Die program. For the uninitiated, you enter a word count and a time limit. Then you hit "write." If you stop writing for more than a few seconds, the program flashes bright red warning lights and sounds an ugly sound. If you use Kamikaze mode, it also begins erasing what you wrote. Dr. Wicked lives up to his name.
The funny thing is that I can write much faster using this thing than on my own. No "writers block" no "de-mused" moments. And it isn't all drivel either. It is good solid writing. It's first draft writing, to be sure. It's writing that needs editing, spell checking and proofreading, but it has words on a page that make sense. Using Write or Die I get about five hundred words or more written in fifteen minutes. Sure, I can, and have written that much in that period of time without using the program, but those times I was in a word war with other writers.
Now, here comes the revelation. The word wars and Write or Die share one thing in common - focused short burst writing. When I am not using the program or competing with another writer to see how much I can get done in fifteen or twenty minutes, I get easily distracted. I stare at the screen. I dust it off. I watch the cats play. I sip a soda. I stare off into space trying to look profound for the cats. I write a few words and then think about them. In other words I don't keep writing.
If I set an hour to write "normally," twenty minutes or so are spent not writing at all, but pondering, daydreaming and feeding my face. I get more work done in a focused fifteen-minute write than in a half hour of unfocused "writing" mixed with other activities.
There is another factor, I believe, that plays a role in the increased productivity - energy. Usually, when I come to a Write or Die session or a word war, I am fairly rested up and fresh. Writing, even at top speed for ten, fifteen, even twenty minutes means I am writing all the way through at maximum energy. After about twenty minutes of writing, my energy begins to wane.
Just to give you a comparison. Writing straight through for an hour, I can get out 1000-1500 words. Writing four fifteen minute "sprints" I can get out 2000 words of the same quality. Also, it is a whole lot easier to find four fifteen minute slots in your day.
I don't know that this will work for you, but you don't know unless you try. The online program is free, but there is a $10 download which will also match people up for word wars. If you download the program and want to play, bring it on!