I'm happy to say I came away from the panel with a whole new slew of tricks to try. Many of them are psychological - everything from picking a simple ritual to perform before every writing session (lighting a candle, listening to a single song, etc), to using a 20-min timer for writing spurts. Others involve actual adjustments of your writing process. I've decided to try one of these - the "scene outlining" approach. (Author Rachel Aaron describes this in her "2K to 10K" approach.)
Usually by the time I get to a scene, I know pretty much what I want to happen, so I've never tried outlining it in any detail before I write. I just sit down and start typing, and work through the details of dialogue and action as I go. Yet I've noticed recently I've been stopping a whole lot while writing to stare at the screen and think about those very details. They *need* to be thought through, no question; if I just force myself to plow onward willy-nilly, then sure, I pump out words, but then they have to be completely rewritten later because the details are so far from right. Whereas if I sit down and work out all those details in advance of actually setting fingers to keyboard, I'm hoping I can write a far more useful draft version of the scene in far less time.
I'm not entirely sure how much time this will save me. Yes, if I work out details in outline form, I'm not trying to write them in prose that other people would read, so that obviously saves a bit of typing-deleting-retyping. Maybe I can also save time if I think through the scene during other moments of the day (driving to/from work, eating, etc). But the "thinking" part is always the part that takes me longest, and often I don't have a good grasp of how best to handle a scene until I've actually tried to write the prose and found it doesn't work the way I was originally thinking. So we'll see! But I'm a big proponent of "If something's not working, then make a change." My current writing process isn't letting me make the progress I want. Time to switch it up.
As part of that, I've decided to make a big wordcount push on Labyrinth of Flame in Oct & Nov. Full speed ahead, no revision, always moving forward (while using scene outlining, etc, to try and keep the words I put down somewhat useful). So consider this a heads-up: I'll be a bit scarce around these parts. I'll post my schedule for MileHiCon when I get it, and I'm thinking of doing a brief post every Monday for my own benefit, to tally progress and see how things are working (and decide if I need to try different tricks out of the workshop bag). But other than that, it's gonna be nose to grindstone, fingers to keyboard.
I don't expect this push to let me reach the end of the draft - I'll probably need at least another month or two afterward - but I want to get much, MUCH closer than I am right now. I remember how awesome it felt to write THE END on the first draft of The Tainted City. It can be summed up pretty much like this:
So here's hoping I can move the happy day for The Labyrinth of Flame a whole lot closer. Fingers crossed!