For starters, let me prove that I have written 40,000 words in ten days. My NaNoWriMo stats are:
To be 100% transparent, I had a bad writing day Wednesday after the election and only got about 850 words written. In a world where those extenuating circumstances didn’t exist or happened in a different month, I would easily have been able to write 40k words in 10 consecutive days. Because see my stats? I have written that much. Exchange day nine for day eleven and I’ve more than exceeded 40k words in ten days. I plan to get several more hours of writing in tonight so my count for today is going to increase too.
I started with word counts between 3,200-3,700 per day for the first week of NaNoWriMo. Then I finished the book I was reading and paused the beta reading project I am working on for a friend of mine (partly because I didn’t want to distract her with edits on another project while she is trying to win NaNoWriMo too). After I stopped those two projects, my daily word counts shot up to the 4,500-5,500 range.
Yes, my wrists hurt. Don’t worry, I’ve been working out. I’m not totally destroying my health by sitting in front of the computer all day.
Okay, so how do I do it? What’s the secret?
Excitement and Enthusiasm. Being excited about what you are writing is one of the most important factors for getting your manuscript written quickly.
You know that feeling when you get to the end of a good book and can’t put it down? Or when the season finale of Doctor Who/Game of Thrones/whatever you love is coming up and you can’t think or talk about anything else? THAT is the kind of energy and enthusiasm you need to have for your manuscripts.
I’ll list the typical and obvious ways that you can help yourself focus while you write below. When it comes down to it though, we don’t all have endless amounts of free time to sit down and write. I consider myself lucky that I do, but I know loads of writers work 8-5 jobs, cook dinner, spend what precious little time they can with their families, and then sit down to try to write for a few short hours before bedtime each day. I know that time is important, but being short on time doesn’t mean that you can’t knock out an impressive amount of words every day!
Here is what you should do (and what I do): Whenever you aren’t writing in the physical sense (typing or writing by hand), write mentally. While I’m cooking, cleaning, working out, showering, or whatever, I’m constantly thinking about the story I am trying to tell. I think about upcoming scenes and work them out in my mind, even writing dialogue. It helps to have your computer or a pen and paper nearby when you hit on those gems that NEED to be written down right away so you don’t forget them, but you can always email yourself from your phone or text things to someone you trust when you’re on the go.
The point is, when you can’t get your story off your mind and you are bursting at the seams with words you want to write, the next time you sit down to write, the words will flow quickly and easily out of you.
Being able to type fast helps too of course. I’ve noticed this month that I can easily type 100 words in 10 minutes or less. That isn’t my typing speed. It is my creative writing speed. I feel like I write faster than that though, because 600 words in an hour seems like too little. I’m not trying to brag. Really, I’m not. I hate feeling like I’m bragging just by talking about this.
There are loads of other factors that contribute to fast writing though. While I think that having enthusiasm and mentally writing your story while you do other things is important, these factors will help too:
- Minimize visual and auditory distractions.
- My son has recently become obsessed with EVERY version of Power Rangers EVER (why are there so many?!), and for some reason, I can’t tear my eyes away from it when it’s on.
- Music with lyrics is a big distraction for me. When my husband gets home and starts playing music, I find myself singing and dancing a lot more than I’d like 🙂
- Create a calm writing environment for yourself.
- Clean your desk
- Carefully select the art that hangs/sits around you
- Fix your lighting!
- Whether using lamps or overhead lights, having the right amount of light and in the right color is VERY important. Read about the differences between white light versus warmer tones.
- Lower the brightness on your computer.
- Think about fragrances, white noise, air quality, and other “background” factors.
- Would having a candle or incense burning help relax you or make you sneeze?
- Do you need a fan aimed at your back while you write or a cozy blanket to drape over your shoulders?
- Do you need classical music or nature sounds playing in the background?
- Would a trickling waterfall on your desk or a nature-facing window help you or distract you?
I’m know there are plenty of other things to consider when it comes to writing and writing quickly. Having the proper writing software can really help. I’ve already blogged about Scrivener and how great I think it is, so I won’t discuss it here. Having supportive people around you is vital to being able to write too. Whether spouses that have kind words and cook you dinner, writing buddies that can sympathize with the process and read your first drafts, or an online community of support, having encouragement is very helpful.
Did I miss mentioning something that is important to you in helping you up your word count quickly? Let me know in the comments below!