This is perhaps one of the most useful writing books I’ve come across so far. It is a very practical handbook, with some of the suggestions sounding so obvious that you feel ridiculous for not having done it sooner. For 99 cents, this thing is a n0 brainer purchase.
The author herself had been steadily cranking out 2k words per day, after her day job. At that point, it had been taking her three hours per writing session to reach those 2k words.
Then, when she was paying for a baby sitter so that she could write, she found that despite having more writing time, her production remained 2k words per day. After months of this, she got serious.
How did she address this issue? She started by planning her writing and logging her writing output.
She discusses the metric she relied upon, which is the triangle of Knowledge, Time and Enthusiasm.
- The first step to writing faster is to know what you’re writing about before you write it. This meant she started jotting out truncated versions of her scenes by hand before writing her actual scenes. It’s inefficient to make things up as you go so sketching it out rapidly in advance speeds up the writing. Spend 5 minutes to do this for every scene. Essentially, you are drawing yourself a plan for the day’s writing goal.
- This is the logging part. She kept a chart for 2 months to see how many words she wrote. She learned that she was more productive outside of the home. (I’ve heard many other writers report that they will go somewhere like the library to crank out some serious output.) Also, no WIFI speeded up her writing as well. She also learned that when she had bigger blocks of time, her output increased per hour. Ie, if she had 1 hour, she wrote 500 words. But if she had 5 hours, she averaged 1500 words per hour.
- She also had the revelation that the days she wrote the most productively were the days she worked on scenes she looked forward to writing. This brought up a new revelation—if the scenes were a struggle and boring to write, maybe no one would want to read them. So perhaps those scenes needed to be cut or revised.
For me, it was the enthusiasm section where I found her advice to be the most helpful for me. After jotting out the short summary of where the scene was supposed to go, she would play it in her head and look for cool little hooks she wanted to write. If she couldn’t find something cool, she knew she had to fix it.
Though she wrote this portion to address the “enthusiasm” I found it helpful from the knowledge perspective. Playing out the scene in my head in advance of writing, like I was watching a movie, greatly increased my own writing speed because it solidified the KNOWLEDGE I had about what I was writing.
The rest of the book is packed with advice about scene mapping, time lines and how to be a more efficient editor. I could not recommend this book more highly.