Turning Out Words: Productivity



My life is full. And I don’t want it any other way. I’m blessed to have such a rich, varied and full life.
But, oh! Life is full! And I need to get writing done.

2-10K: Increase your Productivity Easily!I recently read a great book on productivity. Now, don’t let it scare you away, because it’s called, 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron. It’s a $0.99 Kindle book, and it’s worth way more.

Here’s why. Rachel Aaron chronicles her story of going from very low productivity to extremely high productivity. She has a three-pronged approach.

Knowledge. Before Aaron sits down to write, she knows what she’ll write. In other words, she does extensive pre-writing before she starts to write. This involves developing the world, the characters, and outlining the plot. Beyond that, on the day she writes a scene, she’ll spend 5-10 minutes sketching out the scene. To put it in my terms, she decides on the major beats of the scene. What are the major bits of action, dialogue, and thoughts that must happen in this scene and in what order should they come?

I always emphasize the importance of prewriting. When I teach writing to kids, I spend the biggest chunk of time on the prewriting phase, making sure they know WHAT to write about. If you want to improve your writing, learn the discipline of prewriting. Aaron says that this alone will double your word count on any given day.

Time. Next Aaron started to pay attention to her best working times. She realized that she needed four hours of uninterrupted time and it was best to write in the afternoons. In order to figure this out, she kept statistics. I know – words and numbers. But numbers are often important in our work. Over a period of time, Aaron recorded the start/stop times for writing and the number of words per session. After accumulating data, she analyzed it to find her most productive times. Once you know that, it’s simple. Protect that writing time and make sure your friends/family help you protect it.

Enthusiasm. Finally, Aaron realized that some days she was more enthusiastic about her work than others. In studying the problem, she realized that she wasn’t excited about some scenes. Well – if the AUTHOR isn’t excited by a scene, why should a reader be excited, she reasoned. Turning back to the prewriting phase, Aaron decided that she wouldn’t write a scene ever again unless she was excited by something in the scene. Some turn of phrase, turn of events, twist of emotions or something. If she couldn’t find that enthusiasm, she’d cut the scene and work to find another version of the events that did excite her.
Productivity: How to write your novel faster.
By the end, Aaron was writing 10,000 words/day – regularly. Prewrite. Write at your most productive times (and you only know that with data). And get and stay excited about your story. It’s easy!

I started my new novel today and wrote 1750 words! Far from Aaron’s 10,000 words/day, but I’m just getting started! She says that she also speeds up as the novel enters the last phase. it was a blast to write today because I was so excited to get started – with a new set of strategies that might actually push me to write faster – and better!

EBooks for Kids? New Study Says Maybe Not



To study ebook adoption by kids and school libraries, School Library Journal and Follett School Solutions recently released the Sixth Annual Survey of Ebook Usage in the U.S. School (K-12) Libraries (September 2015).

Optimism about ebook adoption in schools has run high for the last few years, but this study provides some interesting news. Depending on where you fall on the issue – pro-eBook or pro-printBook – the details are shifting.

2015 Studies: Do Kids Like eBooks?Reading on eBooks May Hamper Learning. In the past year, several research studies report that reading on ebooks may hamper understanding and/or retention of information, especially putting events into a time order. However, the studies come with a big question mark: “what about ‘ebook’ or mobile-device natives?” Kids growing up today who have known only computers and smart phones may develop differently – the research is still out.

USABILITY PROBLEMS: Too Many Standards, Too Many Passwords. Students and school libraries have too many conflicting choices for reading an ebook. On Kindle alone, there are eight different devices and apps for another 27 devices. If a school library tries to commit to one device, say Kindle or Nook, the rapidly changing landscape means their ebook collection could rapidly become out-dated and unusable. Education distributors work around this by providing browser-based ebook readers (again, they are proprietary) that can be accessed by any device with a browser. Even getting around the problem of devices, students then have to contend with accounts and passwords. Digital security demands that schools maintain strict control of access to the ebooks. In my opinion, this is the biggest factor limiting the wide-spread adoption of ebooks in schools. The answer, of course, is for companies to stop haggling over their proprietary devices and strictly adhere to the international ePub3.0 standards. That’s unlikely.

In the short term, the companies may feel it’s imperative to slug it out over the best platform for delivering and reading ebooks. In the long run, I think they are hurting themselves by alienating students and school staff. If it continues for long, educators may decide it’s not worth it and turn back to only print resources.

eBooks are Available in Schools. Across the US, about 56% of schools report that ebooks are available. But students don’t often choose them (see standards/passwords above for at least a partial explanation). Nonfiction related to school projects edges out fiction titles in popularity. Only 6% of schools report a high interest in ebooks, 37% report moderate interest, and 57% report low or no interest. Availability doesn’t equal use. Kids aren’t feeling the love for ebooks!

Parents Demand Technology. Interestingly, it’s often parents who demand technology in the classroom. Over 20% of schools have a one-to-one device policy, which means that each child has a device for at least part of a day; another 24% plan to add one-to-one soon. But the problems are massive, from funding to implementation (see the standards/passwords above). While this study doesn’t cover parental or students attitudes toward ebooks, the Scholastic 2015 Kids and Parents Reading Report says that 65% of kids say they’ll always want to read print, up from 60% in 2012. Teenagers tend to read more when introduced to ebooks; on it’s top 12 list of things parents can do to encourage more reading, providing more ebooks holds the number 12 position. Read the Scholastic report for more details on the parent’s views on ebook reading.

Are your books available as ebooks? Do you read more print or ebooks? Do your kids/grandkids read more print or ebooks?