I’m not a fast writer. And I’m not a pantser. I need to outline first and no exactly what happens in the story. But once I have that part, the problem becomes motivating myself to sit down and fill in the outline, consistently.
I usually feel drained after writing for 15 minutes, and if I can do a couple thousand words a day, I’m happy. Except – I need to be writing faster, because I have too many projects to complete and I want to be earning more with my fiction.
So I got together with a friend and built a platform writers can use to race against other writers. It’s simple to use and adds a social aspect to writing (which can otherwise be profoundly isolating).
The point of a writing sprint is to set a timer for 15 minutes and write as much as you can in a short period of time, with a focus on maximizing word count. You shouldn’t be editing or thinking about what happens next – you just need to keep writing as fast as you can. The challenge of finishing the first draft is usually just turning off the inner editor, letting yourself write quickly (and poorly) until you have a rough draft of what happens, which you can go back and edit and improve later. If you never make it to the end, you’ll spin your wheels re-diting the same few chapters a thousand times without finding the end to your story.
So the new website, www.writersprints.com, let’s you “join the game” and race against other writers. Your work is private and separate, but you can see other writer’s word count and speed, and it keeps track of who is “winning.”
It averages out 15 minute periods to make it fair if new people join, so they can catch up with someone who has already been writing for an hour. Currently there are no private games, but you can ask your friends to meet you in the platform at the same time.
I plan to do 3 sprints a day, for a minimum of 3000 words a day, and offering prizes for people who come and write with me. I love the community aspect of it,
ILYS – Blind writing for faster writing
The other tool I’m excited about is Ilys (“eye-less”… get it?). It limits what you can see when you type, and you’re not allowed to delete or backspace. It takes a little getting used to, but writing blind and refusing to go back and edit trains you to type more carefully and push forward with your story, without slowing down to think about things.
You could just cover up your monitor, but the Ilys software is easy to use and comes with a bunch of handy features. I actually got to meet the founder on a cruise ship recently and we discussed making a portable keyboard that would store everything you type. No screen. Totally invisible writing. I’m still looking for a manufacturer for that project but it could be coming soon.
March Writing Challenge!
I’m going to be focused on writing faster and putting out more fiction for the rest of the year, starting with Golden Thread – it already has 491 preorders and I’ve delayed the release date once already. I’ve got to get it done this month. I’m going to spending a lot of time on www.writersprints.com. Come be my writing buddy (I’ll probably give a free book cover away to the virtual “winner” if I find a way to keep track).
Writing faster is still an ambition, not a reality, but I’m starting to figure out some things that work. My friend Chris Fox has a book called 5000 words an hour. He also had an app, where you can set a timer (and his wife yells “Wohoo!” when you finish a sprint.
I also really like Rachel Aarron’s from 2K to 10K. Writing faster is about creating rituals and habits, and also boosting your writing confidence. Practice, repetition and experience should allow you to write not only BETTER but also FASTER – that’s the normative experience of skill development.
These days, I need to:
- Do the writing first.
- Set a timer (I just use the Windows timer function)
- One scene at a timer (if I stay in my massive, sprawling Word doc of notes, I get lots in the details.) I’ve been using the Writersprints site just because it’s a clean, simple text box. I have a sentence of two of notes – what has to happen in this scene – set a timer and try to write the scene. Not the whole book. Not the notes. Actually getting into the story. Write or Die is good for this too.
- I also plan to get a bluetooth keyboard I can use with my phone – sometimes I get stuck on my computer, but if I lay down with just my tiny phone screen, it’s easier to get started (you can’t see the scene and the words at the same time, so you need to simplify).
If you get stuck or aren’t sure what to write or what happens next, or if you have “writer’s block” – it’s usually because you know this scene is boring or slow or irrelevant. Go back to your plot, or make something happen. Also read this:
Here’s a video I made awhile ago about writing faster…
The other secret weapon I’d like to get better at is dictation – I have friends who “write” 10K a day by speaking their book. There’s a learning curve, but the benefits are massive. Personally, for me the best “hack” is just developing a writing habit. 3 sprints a day of 500 words each = 1500 words a day. Not exactly 5K an hour, but still lets me finish a novel every couple months, as long as I’m consistent.
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