In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I decided to write a super practical post for you all today: four ways to write faster!
There are multiple reasons why it’s beneficial to write fast. First, (obviously), it helps tremendously if you are participating in NaNoWriMo, when thousands of writers around the world challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in a month. Second, it makes you a more effective and efficient writer overall.
Some of you may want to argue this second point, so just hear me out: Rough drafts need to be written quickly. Why? Because rough drafts are all about the story. You can’t possibly know what works and what doesn’t work, in terms of pacing, emotions, character development, etc., until you’ve tried it out. The rough draft is still an experiment, a shot in the dark.
As opposed to “writing,” editing – which happens after the initial drafts – is a process that will take more time. After you’ve fine-tuned your story, possibly by removing, re-writing, or adding entire chapters, then the real polishing begins. This is where you can agonize over word choice until kingdom come.
However, it simply doesn’t make sense to apply that level of perfectionism in the first draft (or drafts). Why spend an hour writing one paragraph if you end up deleting that paragraph later? It’s just a waste of time.
The most effective, efficient thing is to write fast, edit slowly. Here are four ways to do just that.
Just as I said in the intro, it’s important to save editing for after the first draft. This frees you to just tell the story and pour out your heart. Also, it helps keep you aware of overall pacing, and stops you from overthinking. Meticulously editing as you go can have you stuck staring at a leaf (a single word or sentence) when you should be focusing on the forest (the story).
Also, spending less time with your words helps you become less attached them. When it’s time to delete or rewrite an entire section, you won’t be mourning quite so bitterly if you put little effort into it.
2. Don’t read what you just wrote.
Resist the temptation! Don’t do it – whether to be critical of yourself, to edit, or even to proudly enjoy your own eloquence. (What, you don’t do this?… Awkward…) If you read your work critically, it will be hard to move on; if you read it proudly, it will make you more attached to your words. Both are problems.
At the very most, allow yourself to read the last paragraph or two, only for the purpose of situating yourself.
3. Write consistently.
Write daily. Even if you only write a tiny bit some days, returning to your project consistently will help you stay in a rhythm. Otherwise, it may take you a while to re-adjust, get in the mood, and re-orient yourself within the story’s contexts and emotions, before you can begin actually writing. This time adds up.
Since I’ve made writing a daily habit, I’ve found that I can just jump in and pick up from where I left off the day before. If I miss a day or two, this begins to take longer. Save the time and work on your project every day, even if just for a few minutes.
I just discovered the magic of word sprints this week. THEY ARE TRULY MAGIC. If you have a hard time focusing for an hour or two, try writing for just twenty minutes. Set a timer and GO. Write write write, as many words as you can, until the timer goes off. Then, take a five-ten minute break.
Writing sprints work, because they eliminate the temptation to slow down. Knowing that the break is coming allows you to sharpen your focus to astronomical levels.
I’ve found that I can write (almost) twice as much in three twenty-minute sprints than I can in one solid hour. Like I said, MAGIC.
What do you think about the idea of writing fast? Do you agree or disagree? What are some techniques you use to write more effectively?
P.S. I wrote a guest post last week for Shelly Muncaster’s blog, Keystrokes & Closed Doors, titled: “How to Make Readers Care About Your Characters.” It includes references to four-headed zombies, so it’s pretty exciting. You should totally go read it. 😀 NOW. *points to link emphatically*