Whether trying to meet reader demand, or just eager to get your story out there, learning how to write faster is one topic that we thought many NOOK Press publishers might be interested in. Having just started her third series with the very hot romance Rock Addiction, bestselling author Nalini Singh shares her tips.
Five Tips for Writing Faster
Attend any current gathering of writers—in person or online—and how to write faster is a topic that will inevitably come up. Everyone wants to produce more books, have more releases.
However I don’t think writing faster should be the goal. The goal should be to write at our most efficient without losing that which makes each of our stories unique.
Not everyone writes at the same pace and it’s critical to accept this if you’re to use the techniques below effectively. So before setting yourself deadlines, think about your natural pace, factor in anything else that has an impact on your writing time, and structure everything I’m about to say around that.
Tip 1: Set goals and make sure those goals are doable – they shouldn’t be too easy, but neither should they be out of reach. Missing deadlines continuously will make you doubt yourself and that’ll slow you down. In comparison, the feeling of achievement when you meet your goals will spur you onward.
I don’t base my goals on time spent at the computer, because it’s easy to fritter away time. I set work goals (eg. a certain number of words written, or a certain number of pages edited). That keeps me honest. Do what works for you.
Tip 2: End your writing time the way you end a chapter – with something that makes you want to turn the page, find out what happens next. The only difference is that you have to write that next part. So stop in the middle of a sentence or halfway through a paragraph, ask a question or jot down a couple of notes about the next scene you intend to write.
I’ve done the latter for as long as I can remember – usually, it’s just a few words to remind me of where I was going. It’s enough to kick me immediately into writing mode when I hit the keyboard, because I’m not trying to begin again. Quite often, starting is the toughest part. This gives you a roadmap.
Tip 3: Exercise. Seriously. If you’re stuck, take a walk around the block, run up and down the stairs, shoot some hoops, do yoga, but do something to refresh your mind, even if it’s only for a few minutes. You’ll be surprised at how being active gets your brain going – I once figured out a difficult plot solution while throwing a ball against a wall for about five minutes. It calmed me, eased the strain of attempting to figure out a solution, and suddenly, I saw the answer. Staring at the screen isn’t always the best option.
Tip 4: Work on more than one project at a time. I’ve only started doing this over the past year, after I read an interview with another writer who spoke about having 3-4 hours of concentration, after which he needed to switch to a new project to again get those 3-4 hours of concentration. I wish I could remember where I read it, so I could link to it, but that got me thinking. I’d always worked on one project at a time, but I realized I did most of my work in those first few hours, with the rest of the time spent trying to work.
So I started working on two projects simultaneously. I quickly realized it doesn’t work if I’m at the same stage in both projects. It’s not different enough to excite me. Instead, I work on books in different stages.
For example, at the moment, I’m editing the third draft of a rock star contemporary, while writing the first draft of a Psy-Changeling paranormal. I love switching between them. You’ll see I also work on totally different types of stories, so that’s something else to consider. I don’t think writing two books in the same series at the same time would be enough of a switch.
My output has increased considerably as a result of this approach. There’s no wasted time in the day when I’m trying to work. I’m working at full capacity for the entire time.
Tip 5: Have fun. Don’t become the hamster on the wheel, just producing material to produce material. Most of us are writers because we love writing. Don’t lose that, because it’s that joy that’ll allow you to maintain a long-term career.
I’ve been a published writer for over a decade, and writing is still my hobby as well as my job – I don’t ever want it to become a grind and you shouldn’t either.
Build in a little free time into your writing day, even if it’s just ten minutes. Don’t think of it as wasted time. This “play time” can be fertile ground for new ideas and concepts you might otherwise be too busy to explore. Work on that crazy project you think no one will read. Write it just because you want to. And before you know it, you’ll be publishing a rock star book when you’re known for paranormals. 😉
A final note: These five tips may or may not work for you, but try them. Use what you like. And one bonus tip – give yourself permission to have time off. Pushing yourself to exhaustion will, in the end, slow you down (how are you going to write if you’re sick and laid up in bed?).
Have fun, write smart, and write with passion.