You’ve made it to Day #11 of National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo). When you decided to take the Write Nonfiction in November (WINFIN) Challenge, you probably had visions of writing daily and churning out 1,500-2,500 words in just an hour or two. It’s possibly, however, that you started out doing just that, but that now you’ve slowed down a bit. Or maybe you never were writing with the speed you hoped.
Author Rochelle Melander is an expert in writing fast. Today she provides a guest post sure to help you speed up your writing so you can make your daily word count, if you’re counting, or simply power through to the end of your project faster than you thought possible.
How to Write Faster
By Rochelle Melander
This fall, I took a short-term freelance-editing gig that required me to work in a windowless office 20 hours a week. With travel time, that gave me about 18 hours a week to squeeze in writing, coaching, teaching and other editing work. Thankfully, I write fast.
It wasn’t always this way. In my first job, I had to crank out a 1,200-word essay every week. I spent hours agonizing about what to write. I’d read, research, write a few words, then get stuck, give up, and put off the task until the day before it was due. I always finished, but the task was never easy—and I love to write!
Over the years, I’ve developed tools that help me write faster and with much less angst. (Who needs the drama?) Try one of these strategies and increase your productivity:
1. Plan ahead.
The day before each writing session, I choose a small chunk to work on. It might be a scene from my novel, a blog post, or a section in a nonfiction book. I also take a few minutes to brainstorm ideas for the piece. Then I let it go. The next morning, I take a walk and think through the chunk I’ve chosen to write about. When I sit at my desk, I’m not facing a blank page. In fact, I usually can’t get down the words fast enough.
2. Isolate yourself.
We live in the age of multitasking and the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). Every time we leave our writing to check what’s happening on Facebook or respond to an email, it takes us about 25 minutes to return to the original task—if we ever do. The fix? When you’re writing—isolate yourself. Become physically and virtually unavailable. Without distractions, you’ll write faster.
3. Use a Timer.
Most of us don’t have the luxury of writing all day. We have day jobs, kids, and other responsibilities. Often, I write in the early morning hours before the kids wake up, and that daily deadline helps me write faster. Many of my clients have used a timer to help them create artificial pressure and write more quickly. Set your timer for 20-30 minutes, and ready, set, go.
Although writing isn’t traditionally a competitive sport, many National Novel Writing Month participants use writing sprints to motivate them. Find a friend for National Nonfiction Writing Month and make a pact to write for a set time—say 20 minutes—then compare word counts. The writer with the most words wins! If you’re looking for a buddy, search #writingsprint on Twitter.
5. Shoot for good enough.
Most of my writing angst comes from comparing my vision of the perfect paragraph with the garbage I manage to get on paper. Trying to eke out the perfect sentence or discover the ideal analogy slows down the best writers. Instead, be satisfied with good enough. You’re creating a draft, not the final product. Everything can (and must) be edited.
Now comes the fun part. You get to play scientist and collect data. First, stick to your normal writing schedule. Record how many words you write in 30 minutes. Keep a log of your progress, noting external circumstances:
- what time of day are you writing?
- what is the environment like?
- what other factors might play a part in your productivity (e.g., you were up late the night before, you’re waiting for a call while you’re writing, your dogs are begging you to play)?
Next, try one of the strategies above. Log your time and word count. As you try the tools, you’ll discover which ones speed up your writing. You’ll also notice other things that contribute to your best writing days. For me, I write best in the morning, before I’ve checked email, and with no external distractions (like social media). You might write fastest in a busy coffee shop or in a windowless room. Once you know what works for you, you’ll be able to create the ideal situation for you…and write faster!
Your turn: Share your tips for writing faster.
About the Author
Rochelle Melander is an author, speaker, and certified professional coach. She is the author of ten books, including a guide to writing books fast—Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It) Rochelle teaches professionals how to turn their ideas into books, navigate the publishing world, and connect with readers through social media. For more tips and a complementary download of the first two chapters of Write-A-Thon, visit her online at www.writenowcoach.com You can also follow her on Twitter (@WriteNowCoach) or Facebook
Image credit: bradcalkins / 123RF Stock Photo