By Allie Pleiter
How much writing do you get done in a sitting? The answer feeds a lot more than your progress toward a deadline-it can tell you a lot about your writing life and writing needs.
What do I mean by “big” or “small”? While my book goes into much greater detail, the basic concept is this: If you have a day job or something else that keeps you from writing full time, I place the dividing line between big and small chunk writers at 1,000 words. That means that if your average writing session produces less than 1,000 words (where I started way back when), chances are you’re a small chunk writer. Conversely, if your sessions net you more than 1,000 words, you’re likely a big chunk writer.
If you’re a working writer-meaning that your main daily occupation is writing, whether or not you are drawing a paycheck-then I estimate the line between big chunk and small chunk hits at around 2,000 words. As always, “your mileage may vary.”
What does it mean to be a Big Chunk Writer?
Your style demands a certain set of circumstances to be satisfying, and you probably hate multi-tasking. How can you optimize your writing efforts?
1. You need a dedicated space to write. You need someplace where you can “hide away” from life’s noise and distractions-not just a laptop on the dining room table.
2. Your writing is affected by your environment. You care about what you hear (silence or music), your desk, what’s on the walls, your chair, your keyboard and monitor. No messy or a make-do office for you.
3. You write for extended periods or not at all. That makes it hard to carve out the multiple uninterrupted hours you need.
4. The “Cabin in the Woods” appeals to you. There’s so much you could do if you could just be left alone long enough!
5. Ergonomics matter. Invest in the right support system-chair, desk, keyboard, mouse, monitor, lighting, etc.-to help your body rather than hurt it.
What does it mean to be a Little Chunk Writer?
You’re flexible, adaptable…and, well, distractable. You take life-and writing-in smaller bites and often juggle multiple projects. How can you optimize your writing efforts?
1. You can write anytime, anywhere. Coffee bars, park benches, libraries, airplanes-no environment hinders you. Such flexibility, however, can foster an “I’ll squeeze it in somewhere” attitude that keeps you from devoting time to writing.
2. You easily tune out distractions. Your muse doesn’t need environmental or visual cues. You can crawl inside a project under any circumstances.
3. You write often. A daily word count-albeit smaller-works for you. But beware: cramming for a deadline isn’t your strength.
4. Any tools will do. Tablets, notepads, laptops, even index cards and cell phones all can be adapted to hold your small batches of writing.
Big or small, your Chunk size can guide you to setting up an environment and schedule that makes the most of your natural writing style.
Award-winning author Allie Pleiter recently celebrated her millionth book sold. An avid knitter, Allie spends her days writing as many as four books at a time, buying yarn, and avoiding housework. Her career spans three non-fiction books, over two dozen novels, and national speaking engagements. Her book, The Chunky Method Handbook, and several other great craft books are available at a super .99 price for a limited time starting October 27. Your muse will thank you (and so might your back!). Visit www.alliepleiter.com.
Thanks so much for your post this morning. It made realize that I’m a big chunk writer living in a small chunk environment.
I’d love to have a cabin in the woods! Especially since I have a book due Jan 4 and not 1/4 of the way through it!!
Great observations, Allie. By necessity, all my novels were written in little chunks. I would love a chance to be a big chunker some day, but for niw life demands I write in short snatches or not at all. Blessings to you!