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When November rolls around, writers who are participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) log many hours at their computers all in the name of writing a 50,000-word book in one month. Every NaNoWriMo participant has his or her own strategy for writing the first draft very quickly and increasing “words-per-hour” mileage.
Whether you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month or just trying to meet a deadline, here are some tips that will help you write more quickly and be a more efficient author.
How To Write Faster: Five Steps To Increase Your Productivity
1. Pinpoint your best time of day. Are you a morning person? Or a night owl? The first key to writing quickly is to know when that writer’s brain of yours works at its best. Everyone’s brain works differently. If possible, schedule your day to make the most of the hours during which you feel most energized, clearheaded, alert, and enthusiastic. Read more about time management for writers.
2. Clear your head and set an intention. The work of writing fast happens even before you put your butt in the chair. Prepare for an efficient session by making a decision to be focused—we mean really focused. Taking a quiet moment before you put your fingers on the keyboard can go a long way toward increased efficiency. Read more: mantras for writers.
3. Set a timer. If you know you only have one hour to work, there’s a good chance you’ll really buckle down and make progress. So set a timer and then honor it. When the timer goes off, you stop. At least for a little while—which brings us to the next point…
4. Take breaks. If you want to write for five hours over the course of one day (and yes, there are NaNoWriMo participants who write that long and longer), you’ve got to pace yourself. If you dive into your work too hard and too fast, you’re going to burn out quickly. Set a brisk pace—but not one that’s going to leave you exhausted after two hours. And use your breaks to reenergize.
5. Turn off your inner critic. While the editorial side of a writer’s brain does a lot of heavy lifting, putting it on mute for a while is essential if you’re trying to meet an intense word-count goal. Give yourself permission not to criticize yourself and second-guess while you’re in the first, generative stages of your writing process. If you are writing for National Novel Writing Month, then you know the book that comes out of your effort will be a first draft, not a final draft. So turn off your inner editor while you are on a writing jag—there’s plenty of time for editing later on.
Quick! Is Writing Faster The Right Way To Go?
Many writers report that creating a first draft fast helps them get their ideas down on paper before things like insecurities, self-doubt, and market considerations begin to complicate their creative processes. In this way, writing quickly—whether you’re writing in short bursts or whether you’re part of a larger effort like National Novel Writing Month—can help a writer learn more about his or her own creative process.
There are many other techniques that can help a writer write more quickly: Apart from those that we’ve listed above, most of them involve your personal preparation routine. The more prepared you are before you sit down to write, the more likely you’ll be able to produce an effective piece of writing quickly. So begin by planning. And then write faster than ever before by following the steps above. Good luck!
Photo by Katie Krueger