How long would it take you to write an 80k word novel? Or a 60k word self-help book? Would it take you a month? A year? Or perhaps longer?
While you can’t rush perfection, there is something to be said about the speed and efficiency with which you write. As a matter of fact, a lack of speed and efficiency can seriously hold you back.
Publishers have deadlines. Readers have expectations. You may lose a few fans if they’re eagerly waiting for the next installment in your series but you never get it done (like *cough cough* George R.R. Martin).
But the real cost of inefficient writing is about you, not your readers.
Your head is full of great ideas. You need to write efficiently so all your worlds, characters, and ideas can make their way onto paper. You don’t want your books to miss out on the great advice or plot twists you’ve thought of, and you certainly don’t want your best work to die inside you without ever getting shared at all.
Fortunately, the right strategies can help you be the most productive writer that you can be. So, let’s look at how to consistently write faster…
1. Find Your Peak Writing Hours
Are you a morning person? Or a night owl? Or something in-between?
This is actually a very important question to ask yourself when it comes to writing.
It’s hard to get serious writing done when you’re groggy and unfocused. When you write at a good time for your body and mind, you can get more work done faster.
There’s a belief going around that writing between the hours of say 4:00 AM to 7:00 AM is just perfect. You get some peace and quiet in the morning before the day really begins, and that’s when you can really crank out some good prose. But that’s simply not true for everybody.
I have team members who don’t even start their writing process until Midnight! Personally, I’d fall asleep on my book stand long before then, but it works just fine for them. Try writing at a few different times of day to see what’s best for you. Discovering the time of day when your mind is sharpest and the words come easiest can make every writing session more productive.
2. Set a Word Count Goal
When you first start working on a new book or writing project, you’re at peak motivation. Your mind is made up and excited about this big undertaking. The word count you’re pumping out each day might seem awesome.
Until it doesn’t.
Sustaining motivation can be tough for writers. A well-written book takes time, and burnout is common. Those 3k-4k word days can quickly devolve into weeks where nothing is accomplished.
The best way around this is to set a concrete word count minimum for each writing day and stick to it. Setting daily goals and subsequently achieving them can be just the right amount of structure to keep you going.
Many professional authors, including Stephen King, set their daily goal at right around 2,000 words. But for those of us whose full time job isn’t writing, the number will probably need to be smaller. That’s okay. In fact, it isn’t really about words at all. If you’re a food blogger writing a mexican cookbook, you might set a daily recipe goal instead of a word count. Or if you’re writing a short book for 6 year olds, you might not need 2,000 words.
The point is to make sure you’re always moving forward. 500 words a day is more than 15,000 words per month. In other words, consistent progress adds up fast.
3. Create a Detailed Outline
If you’ve watched James Patterson’s MasterClass then you know what his secret weapon to writing is:
A great outline.
Spending time on your outline is one of the best ways to write more productively and avoid writer’s block. The better you plot your ideas, the easier it will be for you to actually put them down on paper.
You should plan each of your chapters or scenes with sufficient detail. What do you want your readers to learn, to think, to feel? Try putting all of this in your outline. Then, when you go to actually write the scene, you’ll already have in mind the picture you are attempting to paint.
Think about your major insights or plot points, and jot those down as well. The goal is to give yourself a map you can follow all the way to the finish — to avoid hitting a wall and getting sidetracked.
Basically, the moral of the story is: Be Prepared. If you always know what you need to write, you’ll have an easier time hitting that daily word minimum.
How to Consistently Write Faster by Experimenting
By following these simple techniques, you can learn how to consistently write faster and your efficiency will improve. But that doesn’t mean these are the only things you can do. There are plenty of author softwares that can help you write and create your next book faster. Or maybe you’re a slow typist. One of those “one-finger typists” like RL Stine. Learning to touch type could be worth looking into.
Point is… There’s always room to improve. Just examine your process carefully and find out where your weak spots are. And then ask what it would take for you to fix them. You’ll be glad you did.
Do you have any tips on how to consistently write faster and more efficiently? Put your best one in the comments below.