I started writing in 2006 at the age of 13. My first book took seven years to write. The story it started as is not what it ended up becoming. The title changed, the setting changed, the plot changed, and basically it morphed from a single thought into a full world containing a series of stories (now known as the Finding Gold Series).
Upon finishing that final version I submitted the book to a publisher already 99% sure it would be rejected, but knowing if I didn't do something with it I would never move on.
With notebooks filled with ideas, I moved onto something new; the book now published as Only Half Alive. It took me 13 days to write.
First book = 7 Years. Second book = 13 days.
What changed? Well, first of all, I didn't really care what that second book turned into. I just wanted to have fun. I let the story take me where it wanted to go, no questions asked. Whereas the first book was my baby! My precious first story that had to be perfect!
After my first book was published I was introduced to the world of sprinting. No, authors are not meeting up to go for a jog. Writing sprints! And I quickly learned I was a bit competitive. I finally found a sport I could win at.
The sprint group I joined welcomed me and I found a new way to write books faster. Most sprints were 30 minutes to an hour long. This worked for the first little while. But the more I did it, the faster I learned that I would only write for a short period of time and then get distracted the rest of my writing time.
Introducing the new schedule!
First, one thing you have to know is I'm a bit odd. Some people joke that I have OCD. I don't know if that's true or not but I like things to have order. So joining sprints (that most often started at random times and ended just the same) was a bit stressful for me.
I created my own sprinting schedule. I start the sprint at *8pm and write for twenty-five minutes (until 8:25pm). I give myself a five-minute break. And then I start again at 8:30. I go for twenty-five minutes (until 8:55pm), take a five-minute break, and start up again at 9pm.
*Times are just examples.
This schedule took my writing from 500-1000 words every thirty minutes to roughly 1000-5000 words every twenty-five minutes (on average).
The questions kept coming ...
The sprinting made a huge difference. But that's not the sole reason I can write as fast as I do. And after being asked "How do you write so fast?" so many times, I decided to put together an actual list of ways I accomplish it.
- 1. DO NOT EDIT. I know you are tempted to stop and agonize over every single word while writing them. DON’T DO IT! IT’S A TRAP (read that in Ackbar’s voice).
- 2. Write with your eyes closed. This helps in many ways. The first of which is you won’t be able to see the things you want to fix, and therefore will listen to the number one tip.
- 3. Envision what you are writing. This is another reason to write with your eyes closed. Picture the scene, the moment, the characters. Put yourself in that situation.
- 4. Speak out loud. You will sound like a crazy raving lunatic to anyone nearby. This is why I write in the comforts of home, where no one will walk by, hear me talking to myself, and question my sanity (although my sanity is still questioned … often). But really, if you’re struggling (or even if you’re not) with dialogue, a great way to fix this is to have the conversation with yourself out loud, so you can hear how it sounds. Is it realistic? Would your character really speak that way?
- 5. Act it out. Again, I don’t recommend this if you’re in public. But acting out a scene can be a great way to figure out if it would work, how it would work, and if it conveys the right emotion for the scene. Don’t be afraid to get up in the middle of a sprint and quickly act out a scene you can’t get on the paper.
- 6. Skip around. If you can’t write the current scene in your book, don’t be afraid to skip to the next scene, or chapter, or end. Just keep writing!
- 7. Wear headphones. Make sure what you’re listening to matches the tone of the scene you’re currently working on. Don’t listen to something romantic while writing an epic battle scene. That will (most likely) NOT help.
- 8. Don’t get distracted by Facebook and other social media sites. Once you get pulled in there is no getting pulled out. I say this from experience. If you’re sprinting with people on Facebook just keep that conversation/post up, but do not go to any other page. And even at that, I recommend you find a less distracting place to sprint.
- 9. When you reach a scene where you don’t know how to describe something or you know you’re using the wrong word to convey something, put the word/description in parenthesis and move on. Once in the editing stages search for the parenthesis and fix those spots. This right here is probably the tip that saves me the most.
I hope this is helpful!
As I discover more secrets to writing faster I will share them!
Feel free to post questions in the comments!