Gini Dietrich

Five Tips for Writing Large Body of Works

By: Gini Dietrich | February 18, 2013 | 

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. D and I saw a super cheap flight and stay at an all-inclusive resort in Jamaica. I’m not normally a beach person. If we’re going to vacation in February, I’d prefer to ski.

But he sold it to me as, “You can get a lot of writing done” and, in fact, I’m writing this from a beach in Montego Bay. If we were skiing, I would not be writing.

We flew down only for the weekend, but it was enough for me to write 8,000 words of Spin Sucks, get some sun, and be waited on hand and foot.

No laundry to do. No dog waking me up at 5 a.m. for breakfast. No meal planning. No grocery shopping. No fighting with traffic in and out of Whole Foods. No responsibilities, whatsoever. Just me, my laptop, some sunscreen, and a beach chair.

If you write, I highly recommend it. But you have to be motivated to get it done and not be easily distracted by all the booze you can drink and the swim-up bar at the infinity pool.

Tips for Writing Large Body of Works

So how did I manage? Following are some tips.

  1. Set a goal. My goal was to write 2,000 words per day (for a total of 6,000 words). If you already know what you’re going to write about, 2,000 words should take you no more than four hours. On Sunday, I actually got them done in less than two hours. But I ended up writing more than my goal on Saturday so I wrote for five hours.
  2. Turn off the distractions. While I wrote, I turned off my WiFi access. If I needed to do some research, I turned it back on, got what I needed, and turned it off again. My friend Ken Jacobs can tell you he knew when I needed a brain break because he found me commenting on Facebook (and called me out several times).
  3. Don’t drink too much. We’re at an all-inclusive, which means, yes, even the booze is “free.” I keep joking that Ernest Hemingway said, “Write drunk, edit sober.” But I am not a big drinker to begin with so I know I wouldn’t be able to focus on the task at hand if drunk.
  4. Reward yourself. Once I finished writing each day, I shut down my laptop (and access to the rest of the world) for the rest of the day. No worrying about work or my overflowing inbox or my task list was my reward.
  5. Read some, too. Reading always motivates me to write more. So I spent some time reading fiction (I know, big surprise). I also gave myself an hour each day to read a business book. I’m reading Andy Crestodina’sContent Chemistry” right now.
Oh yeah. You also need a pair of dark sunglasses and a keyboard condom.

Of course, flying to Jamaica for the weekend isn’t always possible if you’re writing a book. These tips work just as well at home (if you’re willing to take a weekend off from your other responsibilities).

You tell me. What works for you?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Who knew that a computer is completely functional sans internet?

    • HowieG

      @jasonkonopinski who knew she liked to write?

      • @HowieG I’m gob-smacked by this development.

        • HowieG

          @jasonkonopinski ice fishing yes knew her passion there. Bronco busting of course. Writing? Beaches? Being waited on hand and foot by her husband?

        • @jasonkonopinski  gob-smacked!  love it!

        • @jasonkonopinski  @HowieG Oy.

    • @jasonkonopinski Right?! AND it became a battery charger for Mr D’s iPad so he could keep reading on the beach.

  • What works for me… exactly that. Something about looking out over the ocean while writing just inspires. The good thing is here in FL, we can actually just drive to the coast. I’ve done it a couple of times but this is a good reminder to do it more.

  • Free booze? I’m in……..
    Good info because you certainly have to plan for it AND find the time to write. However, without the planning it becomes too easy to put off to later I suppose. 
    I can drive 45 minutes and get that same view BTW but I still haven’t found anybody to wait on me hand and foot……….

    • HowieG

      @bdorman264 you live 45 mins from the beach? I thought your mansion was on the beach with dock for your yacht.
      I lived 17 years by the beach. Half that walking distance. Half within a 15 min bike or 5 min drive

    • @bdorman264 You definitely have to plan. Because I am already into the writing, it was easier. If I’d had to get things organized, too, I wouldn’t have gotten as much done.

  • belllindsay

    What’s hilarious is that I am now getting my payback for taunting you with all those snow pictures. I HATE SNOW! And we have tons of it. You love snow, and you’re on a warm beach in the sunshine. Where I would give my right arm to be. Consider me duly slapped-down. Hope you had a ball!!

    • HowieG

      @belllindsay you hate snow but live in Canada?

      • belllindsay

        @HowieG I really didn’t have a choice in the matter Howie! 😉

    • @belllindsay What you need to remember, is payback is always a female dog.

  • Justjeffpls

    @ginidietrich Motivation n the face of adversity!

  • I think the title of this post should be, “Well, If I Can’t Ski I’ll Just Work In Paradise”

    • HowieG

      @lizreusswig actually she was kidnappped by book writing Somali Pirates who got lost at sea

    • @lizreusswig And really…what’s wrong with that?

  • So, you’re writing while ON the beach? Do you have an anti-glare screen? I always want to take my laptop outside, but can’t ever do it because I can’t see a darn thing. That, and if it’s too hot, I get headaches trying to write.
    On another note, Garth and I were never really beach people either. We’d rather DO stuff. But, there is something completely restorative about going an all-inclusive and not have to think about where to go, what to do or any of that. It’s not something you want to do for more than a few days, but it’s a nice way to refresh.

    • HowieG

      @lauraclick she was dictating to her Cabana Boy who was a cute dreadlocked servant named Kelly

    • @lauraclick I thought it would be too hot and I’d have to sit by the pool under an umbrella. Turns out neither that nor the screen were a problem. And I agree with you…we were gone three nights and two days and it was the perfect amount of time.

  • JackVincent

    Weird person that I am, I found that I could NOT write the first draft of my book at my desk, on my laptop.  (Second and subsequent drafts, yes.)
    What really made the difference was this:  I started my book outline with the chapter titles or chapter concepts.  I listed them in approximate order.  I then inserted page breaks between each one, so that I essentially had chapter titles/concepts at the top of each (otherwise) empty page.  
    I then printed each page out, again, with the chapter title/concept at the top.
    Then, whenever I could dedicate the time, I took out the old-fashioned, hard-copy, mostly blank chapters and one-by-one would write in long-hand.  (Each time I got back to the office, I would photocopy the new chapters and store them somewhere other than my briefcase, where the originals stayed, just in case should happen to the originals!)
    Once I had the first longhand draft done, I THEN sat down at my desk and plugged it into  my laptop.  Of course, I was editing as I was drafting, so now I had a second draft in my laptop.
    I then printed THIS out, and edited by hand, and, yup, would LATER plug these edits into my “third draft” file.  Seven versions later, I was done.  
    Yay… a first book!  I simply would not have gotten there if I had done it all from scratch in my laptop, because I’m just not wired to write large works from scratch that way.   Book 2 in the works, and, yes, I’m doing it the same way, and making serious progress.

    • @JackVincent Whoa. There is no way I could do that. It would take me twice as long! Didn’t it take forever??

      • JackVincent

        @ginidietrich 🙂 I was going nowhere the other way, so I guess “forever” was shorter. 
        I suggested this to several other writers with writer’s block (or non-start), and two of them said that it worked.  Others thought I was crazy… but I already knew that.

  • Oh no … That Beach Boys song … (!)
    It’s the distractions that always threaten to derail me. This occurs for me with reading as well. I need a sensory deprivation chamber or an empty meadow sometimes.

    • @dwaynealicie HAHAH! I totally was signing that on the flight down. LOL! You know what I do with reading, particularly on my iPad? Put it in airplane mode. That way there are no distractions.

  • 8,000 words of a book in a weekend? Now you’re just teasing. And being mean.

    • @samfiorella I did! I’m super proud of myself. And there were zero distractions. The biggest decision I had to make was which fruity drink I wanted.

  • I have to listen to something smooth and relaxing such as Cold Play. Once I’m in the the groove of writing I can pretty much stay focused.
    8,000 words is insane and impressive. How is your editing process? Do you edit after every chapter or wait until the entire thing is complete?

    • @stevenmcoyle Oh I have an editor. That’s the thing I learned on the first book…no need to edit while you write.

  • Steveology

    @ginidietrich A blog post about writing … coming to you from Jamaica? Ouch. You really like to rub it in. 🙂

  • LauriRottmayer

    @ginidietrich Thank you, mon. Are you writing a book? I’m planning/researching my second. 🙂

    • ginidietrich

      @LauriRottmayer I am! Spin Sucks…due out in November. What’s yours on??

      • LauriRottmayer

        @ginidietrich Awesome! Pageants, of course, but fiction this time. 🙂

        • ginidietrich

          @LauriRottmayer Love it! Fiction is so much harder, I’ve found.

        • LauriRottmayer

          @ginidietrich I’m scared but I have the story. Researching details right now. 🙂

        • LauriRottmayer

          @ginidietrich My problem is I don’t believe there is anything I can’t do if I want to. 🙂

        • ginidietrich

          @LauriRottmayer THAT is an awesome “problem” to have!

        • LauriRottmayer

          @ginidietrich Perhaps. 😉 #orobnoxious

        • LauriRottmayer

          @ginidietrich Sent you a DM. 🙂

  • Steveology

    @ginidietrich However, I do know you are on your back to the land of cold and no fruity drinks!

    • ginidietrich

      @Steveology I really do like to rub it in. Vacation like that is so uncharacteristic of me. But yeah…I’m back to the cold.

  • profkrg

    I set goals of sections or parts when I’m working on my dissertation. It’s not so much about the number of words, but finishing the purpose statement or completing the professionalism section of the intro. This helps me know what I need to do on any given day. Now doing it… that’s a whole different issue. The best thing I’ve done for myself is to recognize that I am more focused in the morning. Therefore, I try to complete my more daunting tasks first thing. My mind tends to wander in the afternoons, so that’s a better time for responding to email, checking social media, etc.
    Thanks for the great post, Gini!

    • @profkrg I’ve found, when I do that, it takes me a lot longer to get finished. If I set a goal for number of words in an allotted amount of time (for instance, 2000 words in two hours), I get it done. But if I said, “I’m going to write this chapter today,” I’d find 16,000 other things to do while I wrote it and it would take me all day. That said, I’m totally with you on the morning writing/thinking. After 2 p.m., my brain is slush.

  • I like the set goal. One thing I am trying to do more this year is write fiction. I haven’t done so for various (good) reasons, but I plan to start soon.
    My plan: Set aside a certain time each day or week to write. I will have to co-op the setting a goal and turning off all other distractions. Writing should be the only thing I do during those time periods.

    • @polleydan If you don’t start before November, you really should check out NaNoWriMo. It will motivate you in a hurry to get those 50,000 words written in one month!

      • @ginidietrich Oh, I’ve done NaNoWriMo a few times. Two completed (very bad) novels, another three or four years of partial writing.

  • I don’t usually write large bodies of work (unless, of course, I’m failing in my NaNoWriMo quest – remember that?). But I find that when I do any type of writing that goes above and beyond a short blog post, the best tactic is to set a time limit wherein I can’t get up until that time is up. It might not produce the most compelling text, but it’s a start.

    • @bradmarley Oh I remember! LOL! I like the time limit, too. Particularly when I’m writing at home during the week. I’ll give myself from 6-7 a.m. and that’s it. I find it works really well.

      • @ginidietrich Then, once you set the time limit, it just boils down to willpower, of which I have none. *sigh*

        • @bradmarley I’ll bet you do!

        • @ginidietrich But I just started watching Game of Thrones. And, right now, Game of Thrones > everything else in my life.

  • KevinVandever

    I told a friend I was writing a book and she said “Cool! Break a leg!” So I did. I wrote most of my first book while recovering from ankle surgery, a few of the chapters while on Vicodin. I was in bed all day with no tv, no internet (before it really took off), and no social media (way before SM existed). Nothing to do but to write, and write colorfully in a few spots.
    I recommend it. Sure, it hurts like hell to have surgery, but it might not be much more difficult than to sit on the beach avoiding all-inclusive alcoholic beverages all day.

    • @KevinVandever Um, why did you have ankle surgery?

      • KevinVandever

        @ginidietrich So I could make time to write. Duh!
        Basketball. I messed my ankle up over the years and finally needed to have ligaments mended and reattached to the bone.

        • @KevinVandever  Oh so you didn’t gloriously hurt it like having a TV fall on it during a satellite media tour (I mean, what?). Did you decide to have the surgery so you COULD write your book?

        • KevinVandever

          @ginidietrich No, nothing glorious like a TV accident while on tour. Next time, though. Yes, it was probably the best move as I was behind and the publisher was getting nervous.

    • wagnerwrites

      @KevinVandever I haven’t met anyone with a similar experience until now. I broke BOTH my legs just as I needed to start a very long assignment – essentially a book – for a local nonprofit. It was hard writing on the Vicodin but after that was over, it went smoothly from my special bed set up in the living room (couldn’t go upstairs). However, I don’t recommend it or the vacation set up. I just go to the quiet student study carrals (sp?) at the university library, where there is no wifi for us non-students.

      • KevinVandever

        @wagnerwrites Wow. Both legs. You don’t mess around. Not sure I want to venture there. You must really wanted to write.

        • wagnerwrites

          @KevinVandever It was a stupid accident but the book turned out really well and I got a new laptop as a sympathy present.

  • So THAT’S why you weren’t returning my calls??
    Good for you Gini. I could get so much more work in Haena or Hanalei than in Spokane… I ought to just move there.

    • @barrettrossie  Oh don’t get me started on Ms. Dietrich and her apparent unwillingness to return calls, even though said calls might change her life! That said, it’s nice to be called out on Spin Sucks for calling out Gini for misbehavior!

      • @KensViews  @barrettrossie Oh Ken. He didn’t call me. He’s just teasing. I had only two VMs when I got back to the States. One from Massage Envy and one from a new business prospect.

        • @ginidietrich  @barrettrossie I guess you’re not including the VMs you hadn’t returned BEFORE your Jamaica boondoggle! (Don’t make me pull this car over!)

        • @KensViews  Someday, Ken, you’ll take the hint.

        • @ginidietrich Your reply was caught in my Spam filter. Well done SpamExperts!

  • ginidietrich

    @LauriRottmayer Just saw your LI invite – will get in there soon!

    • LauriRottmayer

      @ginidietrich Okee dokee. 🙂

  • Guru_Franchise

    @ginidietrich Thanks for sharing, Gini. I am going to print this out and put it above my desk!

  • MacLeanHeather

    @ginidietrich Great post. I had to fight the distractions to get through it though 🙂

    • ginidietrich

      @MacLeanHeather LOL!!

      • MacLeanHeather

        @ginidietrich I thought you would get a kick out of that. 🙂

  • Top of the afternoon, Gini! Very jealous of the warm weather.
    Turning off the wifi access is key. I usually get large amounts of writing done when I travel. Especially when I’m on the train because of the lack of wifi. No wifi plus a great playlist of tunes usually does it for me. I need the music especially when I’m writing something personal. Inspiration has to come from somewhere, right?

    • @Matt_Cerms Mr. D kept wanting to go to the side of the resort that had music. So I’m sure he’d agree!

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  • ltcassociates

    @ginidietrich I’m about to write for awhile tonight using my new “best friend” All the hepcats are using it ; )

  • bloomerbride

    @traceydanner Thanks, Tracey!

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  • Definitely shutting off all distractions and getting it done first thing in the morning helps me…and I just discovered this a week ago! It feels great and i don’t’ have that lingering though “Aw man, I still need to do my writing today” at 4pm in the afternoon.

    • @yvettepistorio That’s a huge learning for many professionals, and is a useful tip to be more productive in any endeavor, not just writing books.

      • @KensViews  @yvettepistorio Yvette, you could go ahead and admit whose brilliant idea it was for you to do that…perhaps THEN Ken will stop giving me a hard time.

        • @ginidietrich  @yvettepistorio  Now we all know that I’m not going to stop giving you hard time until: 1) I get my belated 2012 Arment Dietrich Holiday Card; 2) You return my birthday call; 3) You return my pre-President’s Day call. (And will probably keep giving you hard time thereafter!)  Am I wrong, @Lindsay Bell Wheeler?

        • @KensViews  @ginidietrich  @Lindsay It was Gini’s idea…she’s a genius and it’s worked like a charm.

        • @yvettepistorio  @KensViews  Bwahaahahah!

  • Gini Dietrich

    It seems like a zillion years ago that I was in Jamaica.

  • Ron Smith


  • rdopping

    Didn’t some fine gentleman try to sell you some of Jamaica’s national treasure? The coffee is amazing, right? 😉

    • @rdopping We managed to avoid the national treasure …and I don’t drink coffee. So there you go.

      • rdopping

        @ginidietrich you are definitely no fun!

        • @rdopping Now you know why I wasn’t popular in high school.

  • Hmm…things that stick out to me here:
    – all inclusive resort (we are actually trying to plan a trip later this year)
    – Write drunk, edit sober (always liked that quote…and nope, I do not write drunk)
    – Keyboard condom…practice safe writing, my friends.
    When we go to an all-inclusive we generally read a lot, overeat at the great restaurants, become overly acquainted with the swim-up bar, and play tennis and workout. Yep…we actually workout on vacations (so we can over-indulge on that food).

    • @dbvickery We like to work out, too. It’s part of our DNA. But the food – for a vegetarian – at this resort was not great so I probably didn’t need to work out.

  • ginidietrich

    @AmeliaJL What tips do you have for getting lots of writing done?

    • AmeliaJL

      @ginidietrich I’m old school-I start w/ a written plan/list of goals to check off as I go. Otherwise, much the same as the blog post

      • ginidietrich

        @AmeliaJL I like the written plan…very smart.

        • AmeliaJL

          @ginidietrich Here’s another trick/self-imposed deadline: go batttery power. I put down 3,000 words last night in 2.5 hours. #happywriting

        • ginidietrich

          @AmeliaJL Holy moley! That’s some serious concentration!

        • gstene

          @ginidietrich @AmeliaJL LOL, “Holy moley”? That’s like “okidokey” or “uposydaisy” !!!

        • ginidietrich

          @gstene It’s more exciting than okidokey!

        • gstene

          @ginidietrich We all love excitement , don’t we? 😉

        • ginidietrich

          @gstene We do!

        • gstene

          @ginidietrich and what’s up, beside weekend I mean ?

        • ginidietrich

          @gstene That and writing my next book and that’s about it. What about you? Shouldn’t you be sleeping?

        • gstene

          @ginidietrich Me ? sleeping? that would be wasting time, wouldn’t it? starting new company – with my son! Thats a weekend start!

        • ginidietrich

          @gstene You are!? Do you have a URL yet?

        • gstene

          @ginidietrich VERY soon…. if you want… you might have a helpful test URL… to friendly find bugs…

        • ginidietrich

          @gstene I would be happy to help!

        • gstene

          @ginidietrich …and by that get the idea from the inside first 😉

        • gstene

          @ginidietrich Wow! yes… next week =?

        • ginidietrich

          @gstene Perfect!

        • gstene

          @ginidietrich lets talk… and I’ll let you into it… its all about letting people be at heir best… improving the world *S*

        • AmeliaJL

          @gstene @ginidietrich All good fun! Back on the grid-SUPER productive weekend!