Fast Novel Writing

by Erina Aislinn

Question: I am writing a story and my mom is rushing me. How do I write faster and swiftly, without my novel looking as if it was spit out of a factory?


Answer: First, tell your mother that great writing cannot be rushed. Quantity is not better than quality, and you can't produce your best work under pressure.

For that reason, it's often best not to tell anyone you're writing a novel until after it's finished, unless perhaps another writer you are friends with who can sympathize.

Second, with the exception of a handful of writers who are naturally prolific, most of us struggle with this challenge.

Some things that can help...

1. Know when you write best. Some writers are morning people. Others are night owls.

2. Have a regular schedule. Decide how many hours you can set aside in a day or week for writing and stick to that amount. Not many people can write for more than four hours a day. Some people write just half an hour a day. Do what works.

3. An alternative that works for some writers is to decide on a set number of words or pages you will write each day and stick to that no matter what. It doesn't have to be a lot. One page a day = a book in a year.

4. Avoid distractions. Go work somewhere you won't be disturbed. Somewhere there is no internet connection. Turn off your cell phone, TV, etc. Don't take calls on your land line or answer the door. Your focus should be on your writing.

5. There is something to be said for writing the entire story in one impulse. In other words, it is better to write a complete draft in a month or two than to write half a draft, then take two months off, then try to write the second half. Once you are in your groove, stick with it. If you take a break from your work, you may find that your thoughts, ideas, and even style have evolved so much when you return that it's no longer the same story.

6. Keep it fun. Writing should be enjoyable. If it's all about pressure, stress, and judging yourself you can get blocked.

7. Don't edit or revise until you have finished a first draft. Editing requires a critical state of mind. You can't be critical and write a creative work at the same time. Don't expect your first draft to be good. Give yourself permission to write a bad first draft. Good is for your revised second draft (or third, or fourth, etc.).

8. Keep telling yourself that you can do this and it's going to be great. Again, avoid self-criticism until you are finished a draft.

Best of luck.

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