Everyone wants to know the secret to writing faster.
Truly, there is no secret. Everyone thinks and writes differently so there’s no
one magical process that will work for all of us.
But there are methods you can use as a part of your process to help the words come
more easily. These methods do work for me and they might work for you.
The plan doesn’t have to be an 18 page outline with a world building glossary! (Though some people might need that.)
The plan can be whatever type of planning works for your brain. Some options include: an outline, character arc notes, a mind map, chapter summaries, a beat sheet, and so on.
For Wolves, I broke down the story into 4 acts and wrote a few paragraphs summarizing what happens in each act. Whenever I sat down to write a new scene or chapter, I used the summaries as a guide of what should happen in that part. Did I deviate from my original plan? Of course. But it was good to have that plan because it acted like a roadmap, reminding me of where I was (eventually) headed.
My current story draft is more complex than Wolves. It’s got 3 POV characters, so I made a much more detailed outline for each chapter before I started writing.
So, don’t forget that your planning process might change based on the story you’re trying to write.
Oh, my favorite step! You need to get the words from your brain onto the page and sometimes that might require you to NOT write to your fullest capability.
For me, that means writing without a lot of formatting (no paragraph indentations, no quotation marks half the time because I draft a LOT on my phone). I sometimes leave notes to myself in text that say [Research this] or [Add more dialogue later]. And that is all OKAY.
Most of those things can all be addressed in revisions. But if you let yourself get distracted trying to research this one small thing or think of the perfect banter response, you’ll lose precious time and often end up in a Internet wormhole. We’ve all been there.
For Wolves, I did my super rough draft in Trello. (Which doesn’t have auto-save, so please remember that!) My current WIP, I’m jumping between using Trello and drafting in a messy Google doc. BUT, in both instances, when I was finished writing for that day, I’d copy over what I wrote in a nice Google doc so I had everything in one place. Controlled chaos, if you will. 😉
This one is something I learned to help me manage my ADHD moments. I’d sit down to write but get distracted very easily. Maybe I had to get all my tabs open or I stopped for that one scene I was supposed to do but something else popped into my head. Its very easy to lose time “getting prepared.”
So now, I get prepared in advance. When I finish writing for the day, I glance at the notes for my next scene and flesh out or add things I want to include. Then, when I do sit down to write, I keep those notes visible so I don’t lose my place or get lost in the weeds as I write.
Only you know what helps or hurts you write. If you want to write a ton of words in the time you have, then make sure that when that time comes, you have everything ready to go!
A version of this story appeared in Wolves and Wonder, my monthly newsletter that includes no-nonsense writing advice along with book updates and sci-fi inspiration. Get it in your inbox; you'll love it.