As authors, we are constantly looking for ways to increase word count, but it can be difficult to balance quantity with quality.
My recent post, How to Stay Inspired to Write, highlighted the best ways to keep up the momentum when working on your WIP, so for this one I wanted to talk about how you can write quicker to increase your word count.
Learn to draft quickly
When it comes to your first draft, there are a few ways to pick up the pace:
- Take part in scene sprints- this usually involves writing as fast as you can for a short amount of time (usually 10 or 15 minutes). You can work on any scene you like- just don’t stop writing!! Ok, the words are usually pretty rubbish, but that’s the point!! (You can spend all the time you like viciously editing them later).
- Turn off your inner editor- some people like to edit as they go along- for me, it is a slippery slope. If your perfectionist brain is constantly screaming at you to change a word or rewrite a passage, try changing your text colour to white or dimming the screen.
- Use placeholders– this trick is an absolute godsend for me! If you can’t think of a place, adjective, name, etc. it can be all so easy to fixate on that, and lose the flow of your writing. Instead, choose a word (I sometimes use elephant) and slip it in whenever you can’t quite think of the one you want. When you come back to editing, you can work out the word without losing track of the scene you’re working on.
Please don’t scream at me right now- if you’re a pantser, I completely respect that, making an outline is just not for everyone. But, it can be really useful to have a vague plan of what you are going to write for each session. This could be a full-blown ten page outline or it could just be a couple of bullet points, for example, a quick overview of the scene you want to work on.
This point will look different for everybody, but having some type of goal-setting routine will really help to motivate you to write quickly and consistently. Personally, I like to set myself quarterly over-arching goals for my writing, and also other aspects of my life, and then I break up those goals to make myself a weekly schedule. If scheduling is counter-intuitive for you, you could try just setting a couple of loose goals each week, like writing for 2 hours a week, or finishing the next scene in one week.
Write what you enjoy
I say it again and again (please don’t get mad at me ?), but if you don’t like what you’re writing, it is going to be excruciating just to get the words on the page. Firstly, have a think about why you are not enjoying the scene (how can you expect the reader to keep reading if you don’t want to keep writing??).
If the scene is important to include, pop it to the side for the time-being and skip ahead (or backwards) to work on one you enjoy.
Different techniques work for different people when it comes to writing quickly! Perhaps setting goals works for you, perhaps it doesn’t. Maybe you like to write linearly from start to finish, maybe you jump around the draft. Like anything, only take in the tips and techniques that work for you, and discard the others.
Don’t beat yourself up
Everybody writes at a different pace– whilst someone might get out 10,000 words a day, 500 words might be great for someone else. Putting pressure on yourself to write is counter-intuitive, especially if you’re writing for enjoyment! (But it is OK to sometimes hate writing- just like anything).
Refill your creative well
You may have heard this term being thrown around a lot, but it basically just means take breaks before you absolutely have to. If you write breaks into your writing schedule (this could be a couple of hours reading/ self-care, or a whole week away from writing), this will allow you to write much quicker and more efficiently when you do come back to the page (instead of writing a whole load of mush because you haven’t taken a writing break for weeks).
Do you think these tips were helpful? Do you have any others to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or you connect with me directly on any of my social medias.