I recently read a fascinating article written by fiction writer, Rachel Aaron.
Rachel is a full-time novelist who writes for 5 hours a day.
She’s spent years writing 2,000 words a day and felt that it was enough.
Until, that is, she began to track her writing time because what she saw made her completely change the way she wrote every day.
She used her new data to not only discover when she was writing more, but also to discover why.
And the following is what she found and how she changed the way she worked.--
There is a metric to writing faster and better.
It is made up of 3 core elements:
All 3 must be in play before you begin writing.
Knowledge. This is the most important of the 3.
Knowledge is knowing what you're going to write BEFORE you begin.
You need a complete outline of arguments/conflicts, dialogue, fights, fears, facts and more before you write a scene or chapter.
Without knowledge of exactly what you're going to write and how it will all unfold, you can waste hours or even days back-tracking, deleting and rewriting whole portions of your book.
Five minutes spent outlining with a pad and pen can quickly untangle a complicated scene using text, maps, diagrams and anything else that will help you see your story unfolding in a smooth progression.
Working this way helps you to see immediately if your plot line is taking a wrong turn which can save you days of putting it right AFTER you've written it all.
Notes are best written BEFORE you start writing.
Time. This is the second core element. Know how much time it takes you to write. Keep a track for a few days of how much you write and when (time of day).
You may find that the times that you thought were your most productive, aren't.
Just because your bum is on your chair and you're typing, it doesn't necessarily mean you're working at peak productivity.
For instance, you may write for 3 hours in the morning and less than 2 hours in the afternoon and find that you write twice as much in the shorter time in the p.m. than in the longer time in the a.m, even if you always thought yourself to be a morning person.
Also, where you write can be a contributing factor to your writing output.
Many writers, myself included, can get more writing done away from home at cafes, parks or (my favourite) the library.
Also look out for writing fatigue if your word count drops after a certain number of hours of straight writing.
Once you know the best time and place for you to write, guard it voraciously. Don't let anything or anyone interrupt that time or take it from you.
Enthusiasm. This is the third core element. You need to be enthusiastic about what you're writing or you'll quickly lose interest.
You can write much faster, and longer, when you're enjoying what you're writing about.
I think copy writer, Bob Bly, put it best when, in an interview, he said that even if the subject he's writing about isn’t well known to him, it needs to be something he can get at least temporarily enthusiastic about.
As an example, he once turned down a job writing about hunting because he doesn't hunt and doesn't want to.
On the other hand he could write about being a vegetarian because although he isn't a vegetarian himself, he finds the subject interesting so that he could get temporarily enthusiastic about it.
But when it comes to writing fiction, if the scene you're working on is boring to write and you don't feel enthusiastic about writing it, odds are that no one will be interested in reading it either.
So if you're not psyched and thinking "hell yeah!" as you write a scene, drop it or get out your pad and pen and make changes until you feel excited to write it.
And those are the 3 core elements you need if you want to raise your writing output to astonishing levels.
Knowledge - know what you’re going to write about before you start.
Time - know your most productive times of day.
Enthusiasm - if you don't enjoy writing it, stop.
If you want to know more, you can read all about Rachel Aaron's amazing writing output in her latest book for writers, 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love
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