A Little Experiment

Call me Guinea Pig.

Photo credit: wcn247 via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: wcn247 via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC

Over the last few months I have been on a quest to discover the right process, the right combination of factors to produce a known and quantifiable result. To be precise I have been searching for the method I need to employ to get my first draft completed.

I have been doing the normal things you do when you start out, tracking number of words written, duration of writing and any comments on the writing period. The results at first were great. But you must account for the initial euphoria that ensues with anything new and exciting.

At the same time, I was studying other processes people employ in various disciplines. From those observations one thing emerged which ran across all types of disciplines. Except writing. That one thing was a warm up. Professionals tended to utilized some type of warm up prior to beginning the real work. Athletes, musicians, singers, painters, photographers, they all did a warm up before they started the real task in front of them. The warm up looked different for each of them, but it was there.


I also happened across a program that delved into how habits are formed. One telling comment stated that the most productive people have developed cues which trigger a habit allowing them to go thru the day without having to make real decisions.

How can I apply these seemingly different ideas to my writing? How do writers warm up? How can I set up a writing cue? Will doing any of this matter? Since I had been tracking my daily word count I could do something interesting. I overlaid the days I had posted to the blog with the daily word count and an interesting pattern began to emerge.

On days with an initial blog post prior to writing, the word count was generally higher than on days without a blog post. On days where the word count was not appreciably higher, the trend was that it took less time to write the same quantity of words.

Photo via Visualhunt

Photo via Visualhunt

As with any light bulb moment, it raised more questions. Is a small writing piece really a “warm up” for writers? Can it be used as a cue to trigger the mental coding of a habit? Does the duration of the “warm up” significantly impact the number of words or the length of time to write those words? Does publishing to the blog have an impact? Is it a matter of how many words are written in the “warm up” or is it simply the “warm up” itself that triggers the habit? How do I tailor this for me?

These are my initial thoughts i.e. the experiment. I like writing to a photo prompt, so I will use a photo as my jumping off point. I will not specify any format or word count. Applying the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) algorithm it will be photo prompt, write, track, write on draft, track.

Let the experiment begin.

Keep on writing.

Jo Hawk The Writer

11 thoughts on “A Little Experiment

  1. I think the discipline of writing a quick Blog for you would be like waking up and immediately having tea or coffee. It’s a way to “start” the day. It gives a moment to pause, you are forced to put your mind in “writing mode.” You form a habit that starts your writing that day and hopefully in doing this would calm you down, so your mind could be free to FLOW on the creative side and the word count would just come naturally. I think you block your flow of words by obsessing on the word count so much. Focus on the passion you have for your story…. THEN you can add words to reach your word count. For me, I think the other way… I want the creativity to shine, I obsess about this. Once the thoughts are on paper I can than add words to reach word count. Different approaches, it’s good to share. CONTINUE TO STAY POSITIVE! Imagine yourself at your book signing!


    • Thank you for the encouragement. They say the process is slightly different for everyone, so I am casting about trying to find out what works best. I realize that a portion of the problem is that I need to do research that I hadn’t anticipated and that slows the process.

      You are correct, ideally, this needs to be a habit, which is why I have been reading on how to develop and trigger a new habit. Eventually something will work.

      A book signing? That sounds great! I will imagine that you are there so I can thank you in person.

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  2. Pingback: Mystery Blogger Award!  – Words and Whispers

    • I had forgotten about Julia Cameron. I have a well-worn copy of the Artist’s Way hiding out on one of my bookshelves. Time to pull it out, dust it off and give it another read. Thanks for the reminder.


  3. I think writing any short piece can put you in the right frame of mind for delving into your novel writing. It does get the brain in word-producing mode. With me, I spend far too much time on my blog because of the type and length of many of the posts I do. Writing challenges are good, but then you do need to spend a lot of time going round stories of other community members. This is enjoyable but time-consuming. It seems you have this side of things in hand,


    • Yes, it can be a time-consuming endeavor. What got me to thinking about all of this was waiting on a challenge post. That is why my thought was to source the photos myself. Then I can write on my schedule with whatever comes to mind, whether it be twenty words or five hundred and twenty. Thanks for the kind words.


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