November is once again here, which means that many of you writer-types are probably halfway through NaNoWriMo, the annual writing event that challenges you to write an entire novel (consisting of at least 50k’s worth of words) in a month.
Even if you’re not competing in NaNo, writers are always looking for ways to write more quickly, in order to finish an essay, a short story, a speech, a play, a poem…or anything else that they’re desperate to get down onto paper! Here are our top five tips for writing more quickly:
plan your writing
You might be someone who just likes to get stuck into your writing without planning ahead of time, but planning may be beneficial if you find yourself stuck, staring at the wall, wondering quite where you want your sentences to go. If you’re writing fiction, plan the entire scene, beginning to end. Think about how you want to move the story forward, and what your characters need to do to achieve this. If you’re writing an essay, or some other kind of non-fiction, think about what topics you’ve already covered, and what you still need to do. Also, seek out references and build a structure around them, matching up your points to the referenced texts. You can plan in lots of different ways: some people like lists, some like mind maps, or post-it notes…try them all out, and see what works for you! Knowing what you want to write ahead of time means you won’t be wasting any time when you sit down at your keyboard/notepad.
set a dedicated writing time
Sometimes we have to write whenever we can find a scrap of time–ideas jotted down on the backs of customer receipts, notes typed up on our phones during our morning commute–but if you can, try to set yourself a dedicated and regular writing time. This can be whenever works for you (I know a lot of people seem to have success with waking up an hour earlier, though, as a night owl, this would kill me) and doesn’t have to be a long time. Thirty minutes to an hour or so is usually a good chunk of time for continual writing, as it’s long enough to get things done, but not so long that you get bored and start to procrastinate with a YouTube meme playlist.
remove yourself from distractions
Our lives can be busy, and it might not always be possible to be completely removed from everything that isn’t writing, especially if you have children or pets that demand constant attention! However, if you can, take yourself to a place that’s free of outside distractions and that you can start associating solely with writing, such as an office, a coffee shop, a library. If possible, also remove electronic distractions like televisions and iPads, and turn your wifi off if you don’t need it for research! Your writing time should be for writing only, and disciplining yourself into a good routine will help improve your productivity as you begin to write more quickly. If you live with people who don’t take your writing time seriously, explain to them that this time is important to you, and that you need to get work done.
keep things interesting
One of the best ways to start writing more quickly is to write the things that excite and interest you the most. Even if you’re writing something like an essay, there are always things to discover that will interest you and spur you on to write more quickly. If you find yourself stuck, write down a list of things that interested you about the topic in the first place, and see if you can expand on your points about your favourite topics. If you’re writing fiction, what is it about your characters and your worlds that really holds your attention? What scenes have you been desperate to write, and why? What is it that makes your world exciting and interesting to a reader? If you’re bored of your own writing, there’s a good chance that your readers will be, too!
be realistic and kind to yourself
Whilst this guide will hopefully help you improve your word counts, you have to remember that you’re not a machine. You’re a person with a busy life who has conquered the scariest initial hurdle and has started writing. You can keep going and you will complete your work, little by little, but don’t be too harsh on yourself too quickly. If you’re just starting out and you expect to write ten thousand words a day, you’ll only serve to frustrate yourself and you’ll end up quitting. Work out how much you write during your dedicated writing time and seek to improve that number little by little–maybe by 5% one day, then 10% a week later. Everything you write gets you one step closer to a finished product, and also helps you improve your writing, little by little. If you’re anything like me, you’re impatient and hard on yourself, but writing takes time. You’ll see results if you keep the work up, though, I guarantee it.
Do you have any other tips for writing more quickly? Let us know in the comments below!
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