Have you ever wished that you could write faster? If you’re a fiction author, chances are that you have. Last year, one of my writing students begged me for some productivity tricks.
She said: “I ended the first book in my series with a lot of loose threads—I though it would make writing the next book easier. But it hasn’t. Sales have slowed and I’m scared they’ll stop altogether if I don’t get this book out. This is my livelihood.”
Are you relying on fiction for your income too?
If you’re relying on your fiction for income, you need to write faster
In addition to writing faster, you need to write strategically. That is, you need:
- A story question: once you’ve answered the question, the story is done;
- Engaging characters, who do the unexpected. I’ve been rereading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. When Gilbert attacks Frederick Lawrence, it’s both unexpected, and shocking.
- A list of essential scenes.
Let’s look at additional strategies to help.
1. Create a storyboard: put it where you can see it
Writing in scenes solves a multitude of writing challenges: it will help you to write faster, too.
Create a storyboard of upcoming scenes. (No need to storyboard your entire novel; create four to six scenes at a time, then write.)
Use stick figures in your storyboards if necessary, as I do. Artistry isn’t the point; speed is the point.
When you have a storyboard, you know where your fiction is headed, and the images kickstart your imagination. (Images help: read the study in the link if you’re unaware of the power of images.)
2. Avoid stress as much as possible, it kills creativity
Feeling stressed? Go for a walk: use up your excess adrenaline with exercise.
A friend knits to relax; another plays billiards; I read.
Your goal isn’t to avoid stress entirely. That’s impossible; it’s counter-productive too. You need a little stress because it builds your motivation, but not so much stress that it kills your imaginative abilities.
3. Let Amazon help you to write faster: use pre-orders
I’m a big fan of Amazon pre-orders to help you to write faster. A pre-order gives you a deadline.
4. When you’re writing your first draft, anything goes
The ability to write faster on demand develops:
- After you’ve built a writing habit; and
- When you trust yourself.
Both things take time, as well as discipline. Trust is vital, so you can unleash your creativity, especially in your first draft.
Allow your emotions to lead you. In this article on writing first drafts of fiction, I suggested:
Emotions lead to imagination; mental images—you see things in your imagination.
Here’s an example. Let’s say it’s midnight. You’re in a large, unfamiliar house alone… Something woke you… What do you feel? Are you seeing images in your mind?
5. Change tack: write something else to remove the pressure
I suggested to my writing student that she write and publish something else, because she needed time to regain her confidence in the novel, as well as her equilibrium. Something about the novel had built her resistance.
Resistance is real and can even be helpful. My process when encountering resistance is to switch projects.
My student wrote a series of short stories and published them. She said: “One afternoon I thought about the novel, and had an idea for a subplot. I created an Amazon pre-order and finished the novel in three weeks.”
If you want to write faster, ask yourself WHY
Most authors can write faster, especially if they have a tendency to procrastinate. Use the above strategies, they’ll help, whatever your writing goals, but take a moment to ask yourself why you want to write faster.
Knowing your reasons always helps.
Good luck. 🍀
Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.