Here’s a simple experiment you can try today and it only takes 30 minutes.
- Open up the book you’re currently writing.
- Grab a timer — IOS, Windows and Android all have built in timers/clock functions that can act as stopwatches and timers. If you don’t have one installed, there are a ton of free apps that do the same thing.
- Set the time for 10 minutes.
- Then write.
Don’t do anything different than you normally do. If you stop to tweak, then stop to tweak. If you dither over word choices, go ahead and pull up Thesaurus.com and wallow.
At the end of the ten minutes, highlight the words you wrote and get your word count.
Write that down.
Don’t evaluate it. Don’t cringe. Just write it down.
Now, spend five minutes figuring out what comes next in your story.
What is the general outline of the scene? Which characters will do or say what?
You can sketch out rough notes just ahead of where you are in the manuscript, so they’ll be below where you’re about to write, or you can sit back with your eyes closed and imagine the scene. Either works.
Then reset the timer for another ten minutes.
This time, though:
- Don’t stop!
- Don’t edit!
- In the back of your mind, there should be a touch of urgency, a need to keep your fingers moving. You can crank it up a gear or two, but don’t try to max out. Just keep the words pouring out at a steady pace.
Start the timer and go.
When the timer goes off, highlight the words you just wrote and find out what your word count is now.
If you’re not at least 15% higher in word count than the first time, I will be shocked.
This tiny experiment is a combination of two speed enhancing techniques:
- Word sprints as designed by Chris Fox of 5,000 Words an Hour
- One of the major speed factors from Rachel Aaron’s 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. (i.e.: always knowing what happens next).
If you like the push this exercise gives you, try using larger time blocks.
Chris Fox talks about using classic Pomodoro chunks of 25 minutes, with 5 minutes in between.
I use 50 minute chunks with 10 minutes between, when I want to boost my speed and word count.
Also, if you’ve always thought of yourself as a classic pantser, working out the plot just a scene or so ahead of where you’re writing will give you the best of both worlds.
If you’re a plotter/outliner, you may find that making sure you know the next few beats in granular detail makes your fingers work a lot faster.
Even if you’re not interested in trying these speed enhancers in the long term, a simple 30 minute experiment will at least demonstrate that you can write faster if you want to.