On the weekend, I ran a two hour presentation on how to write lots of books quickly, and why you might want to.
Because I was teaching and got immediate, in-person feedback on some of the concepts I have been speaking about here on this blog for a very long time, it was a good reminder of the distance I have traveled, working with these ideas. Newer writers are taken aback when I make statements like “books are virtually commodities”.
I thought I would revisit some of the brow-raisers here in a quick summary post.
Writing Fast ≠ Crap
I really think I need to rephrase this. NLP techniques say that the mind doesn’t process the negative, so anything you say is converted to a declarative.
Fast Writing Gets Great Writing.
Not too shabby.
The belief that writing fast produces crap is so invasive. I was reminded of this more than once when I was speaking with writers on the weekend. The belief is calcified into our bones, so that often, we can’t even hear ourselves clinging to the idea.
Despite spending 40 minutes going over why fast writing actually helps you produce your best writing, I still had a writer contact me afterwards to tell me she had acquired one of my novels, and wanted to tell me how good my writing was, which was a surprise to her, considering how fast I wrote them…
I thanked her, while silently sighing.
Writing Fast is Simple.
I think many of the writers were hoping I’d reveal the keys to the kingdom along with the magic password. The fact is, writing fast is a very simple matter:
- Learn how to write more words per hour, and
- Spend more hours writing.
That’s it. That’s the keys to the kingdom.
Actually doing these two things is what this site is all about. There are a hundred ways to improve both aspects, and a million more ways your brain and your life will try to derail you from your efforts.
You’ll spend your life tussling with the things that try to stop you or slow you down, and every time you think you have this writing thing nailed, something else will come along to prove you wrong, because:
Your Mind Is The Biggest Roadblock
You’re a writer. You’re creative when it comes to inventing reasons not to write. All the skills you’ve learned to build complex characters you bring to bear upon your own psychology, reasoning your way out of doing what you should.
No two writers have the same issues. All you can do is self-analyse and correct your course, then get back to writing.
Any time you catch yourself saying, in response to ideas on how to write faster and write more, “Yes, but…!”, it’s a sure bet you’re dealing with an erroneous belief. I heard this a lot on the weekend.
Everyone can Write Faster.
No matter what your circumstances, there is a way–probably many ways–to increase your output; from wholesale lifestyle changes, to changing countries, cities, or your job, down to small daily tweaks that eek out a few more words per minute and hour.
Your resistance to making changes to enhance your writing is a function of the priority you give your writing. For me, writing comes only slightly behind my family in priority. For you, or other writers, your daytime career, your country, community, pets and hobbies and a great many other aspects of life might take precedence. It’s a personal choice, but be aware of what your real priorities appear to be when you choose to watch the next episode of that great new TV show, instead of writing.
It’s a War of Increments.
I pointed out that by writing an extra 30 minutes a day, at 1,000 words/hour rate, writers could add an extra 182,500 words to their output for the year — or, more than three extra novels of 60K each.
That dropped a lot of jaws.
But really, that’s how the increments win.
I had one writer (there’s always one), who said, “Yes, but–” (See what I did?). She said, “Yes, but you write full time!”
There’s that pesky inner belief thing again.
When I was working a full time day job, in the last full year of writing + working, I put out twelve novels, all around 70K words, using nothing more than this incremental tactic. Granted, my hourly rate is probably higher than most people’s after twenty years of practice, but that doesn’t mean yours can’t get there.
You shouldn’t wait for two or three hours of spare time to spontaneously appear in your life, because they never will. You shouldn’t not write, because “it’s only thirty minutes!” You can get a shit-ton written in thirty minutes, and if you use those same thirty minutes every time they crop up, you’ll have that three novels per year done, all without changing a single other thing in your life.
The guys over at Sterling and Stone use ten minute increments, even single digit increments, to dictate a few more words onto their cellphones, to transcribe later.
And this isn’t a new tactic.
Henri François d’Aguesseau, an 18th century French politician, noticed that his wife was consistently ten minutes late to dinner. He wrote in those ten minutes, and produced a three-volume book that became a bestseller.
Increments, as I said.
Ultimately, though, it does boil down to a simple question: Do you really want to write faster, or do you just think you should?
For some writers, that slow drift down the page and endless reworking of a sentence to make it gleam is what they really love about the process. Often, these are the writers who are drawn to the literature genre (and yes, it is a genre), but not always.
Writing fast, even wanting to write fast, ultimately comes down to you making a decision to do so.
What do you want?