All the time, I get asked how I write so fast. Since I began writing, I have published fifteen books, and written twenty. Some of these were done when I was working 40 hours a week as a journalist (with overtime)! This past week alone I wrote 25,000 words. So what’s the big secret?
The secret isn’t having spare time to write. It’s writing consistently. The writer who makes sure to spend at least fifteen minutes a day writing will be farther ahead than the writer who puts aside three hours every Saturday to sit down at the computer. This method is how I’m able to churn out books so quickly.
1. Write EVERYWHERE
I never go anywhere without a notebook and a pen. Hear me? ANYWHERE. In my early days I would scribble dialogue and outlines on spare sheets of printer paper and napkins. Every idle second you have is an opportunity to write.
The doctor’s office. Lunchtime at work. The ten minutes in-between classes. While the kids are watching their favorite TV show, or the hour bus ride into work. There are countless opportunities to write where you’re just sitting around, waiting for the next part of your day.
You might think it’s only five minutes, or thirty. But if you take all those moments waiting and add them up, in a week, it could be an hour or more of writing time. Doesn’t sound like much, but if you get 500 words done in that hour, you could have a full-length book in less than a year (and that’s not counting ANY extra time carved out of your week to write).
2. Write EVERYDAY
This is imperative. I only take weekends (sometimes only Sundays) off from writing, because you need that replenishing time, but you also need to make it a habit. Once you get into the swing of things, not writing everyday will feel weird to you. You probably won’t be able to say, “Okay, at 9 a.m. everyday, I’ll write for an hour” because life happens, and something might come up. But you CAN say, “Today, whenever I can, I will finish three paragraphs.” As you get faster and better at writing, eventually you will be able to say, “Today I will finish one chapter each day this week.” Or two. Or three.
3. There is no such thing as, “I don’t have time to write.”
MAKE TIME. I know you’re busy. You have a crazy, hectic life. Believe me, I know. But would you also believe that I wrote TWO 100,000 word novels in a span of four months, while working 50-60 hours a week?
It’s because I made it a priority. I didn’t accept excuses. If it’s important to you and you really want to be a writer, you will not give up. You will make time, even if it’s just ten minutes before bed. Carve out your writing time and don’t let any of your other obligations touch it.
Your first draft isn’t for editing. Looking over the work you just finished and correcting it isn’t doing any favors, and it’s slowing you down. The first draft process is just that; a first draft. Just let it all spill out, as quickly as you can. You can always fix it later. Turn off that nagging voice in your head that says you’re no good and your work is crap. It’s not helping to get anything done and is only hindering the process. Do the work in spite of self-doubt.
6. Write the parts you want to, out of order
One of the biggest things that slows writers down is they feel the need to write a story chronologically. They are excited and have ideas about the middle, or the ending, but aren’t sure how to start, so they stall when trying to come up with ideas.
This wastes time. If I have a great idea, I’ll write whatever that part is first, wherever it ends up in the book. By the time I’m done, I usually have a better idea of what should come before or after, so I’m able to dive right into those scenes. Write the interesting stuff first. The filler can come later.
7. Make sure you outline
The story will go faster if you know where you’re going, and not sitting at a blank sheet of paper wondering what your characters are going to do. Have an outline, and a goal in mind. This will speed along the process when the muse decides to take the day off.
These are my tips to make the most out of your writing time! Can you think of any more? Add your suggestions in the comments!