Thursday, May 13, 2010

How I Speed Write

Nano (National Novel Writing Month) from November 1st-30th. It’s the writing frenzy where you kick out a large number of words to hopefully finish a novel in record time. Many people start the challenge and end up with a sizeable number of pages by the end. Some are inspired to start writing for the first time. Others are inspired to finish something for the first time. Some, like me, find that writing at breakneck speed produces a lower quality of work that doesn’t reflect what is normally produced when writing within your own timing. Truth is, my natural timing is four months from start to finish. I tried to increase my speed and did it without much trouble. It increased by 3 weeks, and for me, that cooking time for a novel fits just right.

There are ways to make speed writing more effective. The overall goal, is to produce more in a shorter period of time. If you keep this up, who knows, speed writing may become a habit.

Prepare for it

When you set out to write a novel in a short period of time, outlining is your friend. Take a week to write a detailed outline of the story. It will help to work out most of the kinks before you even sit down to write. Create character profiles of the main characters and review outline before the start of your writing marathon.

Plan it

If you are going to focus on spitting out as many words as possible a day, then plan it. Block out your writing time for the month. Figure out when you are most productive. Is it in the morning, at night or midday? Make a rule – no sleep unless you have kicked out a minimum of a certain amount of words. Make sure you schedule extra time for working out of corners or temporary writer’s blocks. Make your schedule somewhat flexible so that you don’t get burned out and give up.

Write it

With a printout of your outline next to you and a bullet list of your character profile – start the race. Follow your outline. If you want to go rogue, go ahead, write until the roadblock. If you reach a road block – write anything, take some time off to think on it, then re-work your outline and get back to it. Also, if you took out writing time to think, add more blocks of writing time to make up your word count later. Whatever you do – don’t stop writing. Remember, you will always have to edit it.

Don’t look back

Whatever you do, don’t read over what you’ve written until you are finished. That is an easy way to get distracted. Remember, you’ll have to edit the thing many times before your piece of art is perfected. Just write forward, don’t make corrections, don’t read over it, just push forward and write.


salarsenッ said...

Great advice, LM. I'm actually considering participating this year. Not sure.

Thanks for the advice.

Cheryl said...

I Nanoed a few years back...I loved it, and ended up with a great feeling of accomplishment. I need deadlines.

Great advice in the post...

E.J. Wesley said...

Good stuff as always, LM.

Question: When you say "4 months" are you talking about hammering out the draft or 4 months for drafting + editing?

It's hard for me to say how long I'm taking at the moment as I have only finished drafting one manuscript. That one took me a bit longer than 4 months, but I believe (now) that was mostly due to 1st time stuff.

I'm drafting out a new story right now and I'm clipping along at a 'chapter a week' pace, which seems to suit me. At that rate, I should have completed 20-24 chapters (which puts me at that magical 60-75 k word point) in roughly 4-5 months.

I agree with you that moving much faster than that (for me) would probably mean a much poorer quality of writing. However, I do recognize that some folks are better editors than others and would be able to - and perhaps prefer to - deal with the heavy edits.

LM Preston said...

It takes me 4 months to kick out the first draft and about 6 months to edit it (including 3 beta runs and re-edits). A great pace to write for some is 1 page a day. At the end of the year you would have completed your 1st draft. Everyone has their natural writing time for kicking out that first draft.

Jewel/Pink Ink said...

Although I know it's *possible* to write a book outside of NaNo, I do much better having some sort of a deadline like NaNo to just keep me writing and going forward.

Great tips, thanks.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Thanks for a positive telling of a Nano experience - I had much the same take on it. I'm still working on my Nano novel (2nd draft) from last year, but I love the voice that came out from that frenzy of writing!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

p.s. I'm a new follower and fellow SF writer (but for MG + YA). Thanks for the tweet!

Alyson Greene said...

OK, i'm going for it this year. NaNoWriMo, here I come!