Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Sunday, January 16, 2022

A Weekly Word Count


This week, I did something I have never done before: I kept track of my word counts for a week. For the first week of January, I tracked my daily word count while I was writing the January ebook. It was three days in that I realized I should have tallied my TOTAL words written for each day, which would include writing in my other WIPs as well as assorted things. Oops! Since I could not do that when I thought about it, I decided to give that a try next week. So that’s what I did! I tracked my daily word count for ALL words written for one week.


And when I say I haven’t done this before, it’s true. Some writers make a huge fuss over how many words they write in one day. Some writers track their daily words written just because they like to. Me? I don’t really care about daily word counts; all I care about is getting some writing done!


But it would seem that now is the time for me to actually care about daily words written, because this year, I plan to do NaNoWriMo, and, gosh darn it! THIS will be the year I get to 50,000 words! I have done NaNo in the past, but my novel didn’t get to 50,000 words. I think it was 30,000+. But THIS will be the year I get to 50,000! And if I want to get to 50,000 words in a month, then I’m going to HAVE to pay attention to how many words I write in one day. That’s part of the whole strategy of getting to 50,000!


Now, I also want to say that I DO try to write every day. This is another important habit I must nurture, on account of the ebook challenge I am doing this year. I only have one week to write the ebooks, and if I miss a day of writing, then that’s MORE words I have to write the next day! All the same, I have a strategy of writing the ebooks that is not based on how many words I can write in one day; mostly, what part of the book that I can get done.


That was the strategy I have been using for all of the things that I write. I write a chapter here and a chapter there. Or, I write one section in a chapter one day, then the next the next day. It really just depends on the type of book that it is, what kind of work needs to be done for it that day, and how it is organized. It also depends on what information I have available for it! For example, I tried to write an article about something this week, but I had not done enough research on this topic to be able to write about it. If I don’t get enough research done or I don’t have interviews or I don’t have my notes, then SOME things won’t get written.


So here are my word tallies for the seven days I tracked them. Some notes about what is listed: The “Miscel writing” is any kind of writing. An article, essay, poem, etc. Something I don’t have for a current WIP. I am working on several works-in-progress at this time. I am also writing a nonfiction book which I started writing several years ago and only recently picked up to finish writing.  


Day One:

Miscel writing: 1202 words

WIP1: 495 words

Chapter notes: 125 words

Total: 1822 words


Day Two:

Miscel writing: 705 words

Blog post: 945 words

WIP1: 131 words

Part of a Chapter: 735 words

Total: 2516 words


Day Three:

Article: 1675 words

More of the chapter I started writing yesterday: 850 words

Total: 2525 words


Day Four:

The rest of the chapter I started writing two days ago: 1968 words

(Total word count for that chapter is 3562 words. It was 10 pages!)

WIP1: 400 words

Total: 2368 words


Day Five:

Miscel writing: 1333 words

150 words of an article (need to do more research)

135 words in WIP2

Total: 1618 words


Day Six:

70 words added to the chapter I finished writing (I thought I was done??)

200 words added to the ebook I thought I “finished” writing (I was reviewing it before sending it to the editor)

Two interviews: 683 words for both interviews

Total:  953 words


Day Seven:

Blog post: 1325 words

Blog post: 1147 words

Total:  2472 words



I noticed something I did a lot when I was actually paying attention to how many words I wrote: I pushed myself to write more. If I wasn’t satisfied with the number of words I wrote when I was done writing, then I would see if I can write 5 more words or 10 more words to get to some “magic number.” Usually, when I did this, I went above and beyond that suggestion. I wrote a hundred more words or even three hundred more words. That was awesome.


Another thing that happened was that, sometimes, I would call something I wrote “done” then add more stuff later in the day. I usually write in the mornings, and then I go about my day doing things. But I will still have what I wrote in my head. I’ll keep turning sentences over, wondering if I should delete or add something, or if there was anything I forgot to cover. I often went back to add more. I guess we are never really done writing the things we have finished writing!


Also, sometimes, it’s hard to make time to write every day. I ran into that challenge a few times this week.


Friday was a challenge. I did a lot of running around on that day. I was constantly jumping in and out of my car! I squeezed in bits and pieces of writing here and there, but nothing substantial. It was only in the evening, when I finally had some time for myself, that I was able to sit down and get some serious writing done.


On Saturday, I went over my ebook and added more stuff. I also added more to the chapter I “finished” writing and I also did two interviews on that day. That was basically all the writing I was able to get done!


Sunday was also a challenge. Right after I got out of bed, I had to take my oldest in for a COVID-19 test because he had close contact with someone who had close contact with someone who tested positive. So we got that done. I could have done some writing in the two hours I spent waiting in the car, but that would not have gone well because I was FREEZING! My fingers were like icicles. Then I had a bunch of stuff going on after I got home, like getting the crockpot dinner going so that it would be ready at a good time. It was later in the day, after I did some editing for a friend, dinner was done and the Christmas tree was put away, that I was able to finally write. That writing was my two blog posts (I usually blog on the weekends).


I am still glad I found the time to write, though. It’s so important to me to have time to write – especially every day! I actually WANT to write every day, now that I have been for so long. If a day goes by and I don’t get to write, then that day just wasn’t complete. I feel the same way if a day goes by in which I can’t read. If it’s important to us to write every day, then we need to make that time to write every day. All the same, I go easier on myself if I am not feeling well or I don’t have the energy to write!

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Tips for Writing Painful Past Experiences

“The only thing I hate writing about the past is writing about the past.”


This thought lingered in my head on the day I sat down to write about a frightening paranormal experience I endured at one house I lived in. Before the time came to start writing about this experience, I tried to mentally prepare myself for the task. I knew it was going to make me uncomfortable and that it was going to be hard to remember things that I’d rather forget, but at the same time, I also knew that it was very important to write about this experience. That experience brought challenges to me. I encountered things I hadn’t before in my experiences with the paranormal. I learned what I had to do in order to tackle those issues. This important lesson is something that needs to be shared with others, in the hopes that it will help them should they have this experience as well. That way, if they ever read my story, they can get a couple of tips on things they can do.


And that’s the thing about writing about our past. It needs to have that takeaway value. It needs to serve as an educational tool to help others should they ever end up in the same situation. Yes, we are writing about a difficult situation, but the fact that we are no longer in that situation is ultimately what matters. By writing about it, we are saying “I survived this and here is just how I managed to do that.”


On the other hand, writing about the past can serve as a form of entertainment as well. I love sharing funny stories with others, and it’s always appreciated when someone who is writing their life stories shares humorous anecdotes as well. These bits of humor can help alleviate any tension, make the reading experience better and enlighten an otherwise boring situation.


But what happens when the past experiences we are writing about are too traumatic for us to write about, let alone talk about?


There are actually some things you can do.


Take your time to write about it.

You don’t have to write about an unpleasant experience in one sitting. Sure, it’s probably better to just write all of it and get it over with, but don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. If you need time to write about it, take the time. This is especially a good idea if that unpleasant experience included many difficult moments.


Double check your memory of it, if you can.

We usually make unpleasant memories worse than they really were. This is part of our tendency to blow things out of proportion. And sometimes, the memory can be so bad, the emotions we end up feeling because of it make it seem it was a lot worse than it really was. If you journaled or blogged about your experience, read over what you wrote to verify what really happened. The same goes if you posted about it on social media. Finally, if you shared the experience with friends or a counselor, double check with them as well.


Talk to someone to help you through it.

If you have a partner, close friend, close relative or a therapist, ask them to coach you or be a shoulder to lean on while you write about painful experiences. If it is too much for you to do alone, then don’t do it alone. You also might find comfort from your faith, a member of your church, or through meditation.


Look for something good that came out of you surviving it.

Are you a survivor of abuse? Did you beat cancer? Did your child survive a horrible illness? If so, hold on to that point in your story. These are the GOOD things that came out of your experience. There was a happy ending or it’s all over with now. As you recount your painful past experience in your writing, try to see something good that came out of it and hold onto this one good thing to help you get through the writing. If anything, chances are pretty good that you are stronger just for surviving that very thing.


Writing about painful and scary past experiences can be hard, but it is therapeutic. I gotta say that after I finished writing about that experience, I actually felt better. Memories about that experience no longer lingered in my mind. I “got rid of it” by putting it all down onto paper. It didn’t have to exist in my head or memories anymore because now it would exist somewhere else.


I was also reminded of the good side of that bad experience: The memories of the people who helped me to get through it. I once again felt grateful to the people who took the time to help me out with that and offer advice on what to do.


And, finally, after writing about it, I was glad to just get it over with. I wrote about it. That uncomfortable task was done. I didn’t have to worry about it anymore. I was able to go ahead and do other things – specifically, pleasant things that helped me to feel better. I read books, laughed over funny memes I saw on Facebook, and got hot cocoa with my kids while we were out. Doing something pleasant after having to do that unpleasant task of writing about a bad memory helped me to get over the discomfort and renewed sense of fear I felt from writing about it. And it just made getting through that task all the more worthwhile.


Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, January 01, 2022

How to Prepare to Write a Nonfiction Book

 Several months ago, I decided to take on a writing challenge for this year. This particular challenge was to write one ebook each month. Not only this, but to also self-publish it on Kindle Unlimited. A writing friend had successfully completed this challenge one year, and I wanted to give it a try too. This kind of challenge would require me to write an ebook fast – ideally within one week – so that I would be able to send it to the editor, get it edited/revised/ready, then go through the necessary steps to get it published and all by the end of the month! (A real challenge, indeed.) I figured I could write the first draft in one week, since I used to write ebooks in one week’s time when I was a ghostwriter for a client.


Once I figured out what books I would write for this challenge, I got busy making preparations. Today was my first day writing the January book and I got in a good word count for the day: 2300 words. I believe all of the planning and preparations I made helped me to get off to a strong start.


Here are the steps I took in planning:


Organizing the book


I put together a table of contents for this book as well as notes on what to write about for each section. I made sure I understood this book’s purpose and exactly what it must cover. I also took note of any questions that this book should answer.




I’m big on doing research, and I especially do research for every book I write. Research is so important when you are writing a book, especially if it’s a nonfiction book. You can never do too much research! It was research that helped me to learn more about this book’s topic as well as get ideas for things to include in my own book. I used both the Internet as well as other ebooks and print books for my research. I follow a lot of news and magazine accounts on Twitter and sometimes I’ll come across an article published there that covers my topic.




Every good nonfiction writer takes notes for their work! These notes can be items to look up, books to check out, an idea to investigate further or even a quote to include. I took lots of notes for this ebook and they have proved very helpful when it was time to start writing.


Keeping the book in mind


When I’m doing laundry, I’m thinking about the book I’m writing. When I’m doing dishes, cooking a meal, walking the dog, doing a puzzle or even watching a movie, I still have a book I am writing or planning to write in the back of my mind. Writers are writing even when they’re not writing. We’re planning, exploring ideas, thinking about things in our books and what we’ll write about next. Keeping this book in mind helped me to prepare for writing it, because I started getting ideas for things to write about. It also had me itching to get started with the writing!


Scheduling the time to write


I can write at any time of the day – morning, noon or night – but I had to figure out when the BEST time to write would be. Since my timeframe was to write the book in one week, I had to ensure this writing time would be uninterrupted. So after some thought, I decided to schedule my time to work on this book in the early hours of the morning. I get up early just so I can have time to myself to pursue activities like exercise, meditation, reading and writing. I live in a house with only one PC, and because I need to use the PC for this book, and because EVERYBODY ELSE in the house uses the PC too (sometimes for several hours), I knew my best bet to get work done on the book would be to slate that writing time for the morning. Yes, I have a laptop with OpenOffice on it, but I’m still getting used to that laptop. I write faster on the PC. My fingers fly across the keyboard on the PC! But on the laptop, not so much. Perhaps that will change. Meanwhile, I use the PC for all of my “big” writing projects. Finding the right time to write without interruptions is so important if you want to achieve your writing goals. Such a task may not be easy, and it may take time, but it’s an important task to complete if you want to get any writing done.


So, those are the steps I took to help me prepare for the ebook I am currently writing. And even as I am writing this ebook, I am thinking about the next one I’ll be writing in February!


In the event you are planning to write a nonfiction book, consider following the tips mentioned in this post. Do what works for you and you’ll soon be hard at work on your next book. Writing a nonfiction book can be daunting, but if you plan ahead of time and use your notes as well as research to help you out, it may make the job a little easier to get through.

Labels: , , , ,