4 Ways to Write Faster

4 Ways to Write Faster

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.

Leaf in forest1. Don’t edit.

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.

Fairy girl4. Use word sprints.

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.

For discussion…

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*

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14 Responses

  1. cathleentownsend
    | Reply

    Nice. Way to dial in that productivity. 🙂

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      Thanks! 😀 I’m still not a master of these techniques, myself. Every day I try to get better at them, though. Especially #2. The temptation to read is sooo strong. O.o

  2. Cait @ Paper Fury
    | Reply

    I wish I’d known all this when I started writing. xD I was under the distinct impression that books had to be perfect THE FIRST TIME. I didn’t even get that there could be “drafts”. Omg. I got into such bad writers block because if I made even a single plot mistake, I’d go to the beginning and rewrite the whole thing. yes. Take a moment to cry for poor Young!Writer!Cait and her lunacy.
    Least to say, now I write my first drafts so fast I fall into a coma afterwards to catch up on missed sleep. xD
    I love your tips!!! Spot on! I haven’t ever gotten into doing writing sprints with others though? My race is against, erm, me. XDXD

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      Wow. O.O One could definitely say you’ve improved in that arena! Heh, heh. I heard that Tolkien did that with LOTR; he kept stopping and starting completely over again. And that was before computers. He was literally TYPING it all over again on a typewriters. Craaazy.

      Now, your first-draft skills are legendary. I’ve heard of people finishing NaNoWriMo in a week or two, but in 4 days?! I want your powers! xD If you ever want to do a writing sprint together, I’d be game, although I’m about 200% you’d beat me. 😉

  3. Suzannah
    | Reply

    Yay! Good hints all!

    Schuyler introduced me to the magic of word wars – COMPETITIVE writing sprints! – recently and so yesterday, after spending the whole afternoon selecting Christmas carols for our family’s annual feast, I was nearly going to call it a day.

    But then I thought, nah, I’ve got 20 minutes before dinner, I should have my own little sprint.

    I could barely tear myself away for 3 hours x_x

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      I’ve never done word wars!! I’m actually kind of intimidated by them. O.O BUT I shouldn’t be so afraid. I’m dauntless! I can handle it! *laughs nervously*

      That being said, if you ever want to enter a war of words with me, I’d be game. 😉

      And that’s so awesome! :O 20 minutes turning into 3 hours… something about that sprinting mindset just makes you FOCUS!!

  4. Sarah Brentyn
    | Reply

    Great reminders. I struggle with #1 and 2 (which is why I like flash and micro fiction so much better). 😉 I’ve never tried a “sprint” though. I do love free-writing but the sprints have a different feel. I’m going to try one (or 10).

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      I think #1 and #2 are my biggest struggles, too! Let me know if the sprints worked for you. They were magic for me, but I’m curious to know how effective they are for other writers! 🙂

  5. A. J. Lundetræ
    | Reply

    The faster I write, the more I have to edit it later… Although, if the story is well structured beforehand, I am a huge fan of working as effectively as I can.
    Great tip: Don’t read what you just wrote. I have to start follow that tip. Seriously over-reading my texts over here… 🙂
    Will definitely try the word sprint as well. 😀

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      This is true – writing fast does mean more editing later… but sometimes it means saving time, if a lot of the story needs to be changed later anyway! 🙂 Of course, we have to do what works best for each of us.

      That is a tip that I still have to remind myself of. >.> It can be sooo tempting to read what you just wrote… BUT it’s an efficiency-killer!

      Good luck with the word sprints! I hope they help! ^_^

  6. November Article Roundup |
    | Reply

    […] 4 Ways to Write Faster                  http://briannadasilva.com/2015/11/4-ways-to-write-faster/ […]

  7. Kathy Reinhart
    | Reply

    You’ve attached a name to something I’ve been doing for ages… Word Sprints. I am an antsy person by nature, but also very creative. Writing is my passion, but I have to do it in increments, rather than butt-married-to-the-chair marathons. And as crazy as it sounds, I can easily put out 3000 to 5000 words in a day doing that. Thanks for sharing….

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      I know exactly what you mean, Kathy! I get SO much more done when I do it in concentrated, bite-sized segments. I wish I could do the crazy long marathons, but I get burnt out creatively before I can finish half of one!

      Glad I could provide the name to your writing style. 😉 It’s a relatively new term for me, too.

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