Apparently I’m a fast writer.
But seriously! I average about 2 books / year, which isn’t particularly speedy for professionals (especially budding ones like me). But it’s my actual writing time that seems to floor people. On HARBINGER, I wrote the first draft in about 8 weeks. The book before HARBINGER was done in 6 weeks. And my current WIP, a sci-fi called EYE OF THE STORM, hit 43k words in 13 days.
Keep in mind: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing slowly. Everyone’s process is different, and that’s awesome! You do you, guys. <3
But if you’re interested in how I do it, well, you’re in the right place! Here are some tips for upping your daily word count and staying focused!
- It’s all mental. A couple books ago, I had the looming deadline of my first writers conference. It was 8 weeks away. So I decided in February 2016 that I’d start writing in March, and have a working first draft by April 15th. And I did. And after that, my mindset shifted from “that sounds really hard and unrealistic,” to “I’m an awesome writer, and this can happen whenever I want.”
- Stop hiding behind writer’s block. I plan on being a professional author, who makes a living off my books. Which means I treat writing as a job with deadlines, not a fun hobby “whenever I’m free.” I don’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike. I schedule a time, sit at my desk, and hit my word count… every single time. Because that’s what a professional does.
- Get excited about new ideas, but FINISH YOUR OLD ONES FIRST. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I love bouncing from WIP to WIP. I rarely used to finish novels, because I’d lose inspiration and think, “Well, that’s okay, because my next idea is definitely The One.” Rinse, repeat. But none of your books will ever be The One if you don’t finish them. Create a document of all the new ideas you’re excited about, and make those new ideas your reward for finishing the current one. 🙂
- Know what you’re going to write. This will make the pantsers in the room cringe, but plotting works. Full disclosure: I used to be a pantser, hardcore. But then I’d finish a book and… guess what? It’d suck. Plot holes, flat characters, moments of brilliant writing surrounded by a slog of terrible, boring prose. As it turns out, I’m a very lazy writer; I’d rather sacrifice that inspiration (see above) and write a novel once, than chase a fun idea for hundreds of thousands of words.
- So where’s my plantsing medium? Well, I talked about it here, but to summarize, I plot the big events throughout my novel and pants the rest. That’s a nice balance for me, personally. You’ll find your own balances as you write new things!
- Clean your work space. Sounds obvious, right? But wow, my house is never as clean as it is in November. Whenever NaNo rolls around, I break out the vacuum, mop, duster, windex… anything to keep me from writing. But that clean space makes me inspired to get to work in other areas. Before I know it, my house is clean and I’ve hit 2k, and it’s only noon. Amazing what a shiny environment can do for the creative mind. 😀
So, there you have it! These are daily practices I’ve adopted in the last couple years, as I started to pursue publishing seriously. My sister, who’s watched me write since that first story 15 years ago, says that I’ve become “clinical” about the writing process. That used to offend me, because I was of the mindset that if I wasn’t “inspired,” the stuff I produced would be crap.
Turns out, that’s a lie. When you reach a certain point in your career, you’ll realize that you produce equally good content whether the bug of creativity bit you or not.
And that’s a pretty freeing thing, because who has time to sit around waiting for inspiration? Why not just do the one thing we all love… and write? <3