Question 7: Writing faster and routines

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YouMayKnowMeAsTrash asks: "How do you write faster, and what is your writing routine?"

Writing is very much like art, in that its creation varies so greatly from person to person. The gifted writers can crank it out like a machine, while others struggle to even nail down a concept. The speed at which the words emerge also vary greatly, often for the same person within different time periods!

I'll use myself as an example. When I'm feeling inspired, the story crowds my head, and I'll find myself waking at 2am with story thoughts still circling my brain. So I have to sneak downstairs to bang out a few pages. I'll write at any given opportunity. My first full-length novel, called Monkey Girl, was about 47,000 words, and written in three weeks. That first draft was riddled with problems, and three drafts later, it now lies deep within the recesses of my folder of trunked stories. But it was still a completed story. And I felt like I wrote it in record time.

My next story was Siena, and I finished that first draft in one month. It had fewer problems, but was still problematic all the same. All first drafts do. My point is this: Your first draft is allowed to suck. To write faster, you have to free yourself from asking, "Is this any good?" Because that will slow you down, make you doubt yourself.

You cannot doubt yourself if you want to write fast.

Writing Routines

Another thing that helps you write faster is to set up a routine. When writing became my passion, I replaced all my hobbies with it. Any time I would normally play video games, I dedicated to writing instead. Although that's not a routine, it helped me make time for writing.

Someone once told me of an author (I can't remember his name) who dedicated two hours to writing every day before work. He would set a timer, start chugging out pages, and when that thing dinged, he set aside his progress and went to work. He ended up churning out tons of novels. Although this machine-like approach wouldn't work for me, it might for you.

What's my routine, you ask? I don't have specific times that I write, but my process is like this:

1. Work on story whenever I have time, for as long as my inspiration takes me.

2. When ideas run out, or I'm not "feeling it" anymore, I switch to editing an existing story.

3. If I have no existing story ready for editing, I work on a short story.

4. Revisit the novel in progress by reading the last finished chapter. If I still feel uninspired, I go back to Step 2.

5. When two or three revisits to my novel yields no progress, I go back and reread it from the beginning, to get myself back into the frame of mind I was in when I started it.

6. Upon finishing reading what I have, if I STILL don't know how to continue, then I reevaluate if the story is worth finishing at all.

7. If the answer is yes, then I start pacing around the room to jog up some ideas on directions I can continue in.

8. If the answer is no, then I move the story to my Archive folder. I never delete it, because I never know when lightning could strike me again for that story.

9.  Spend five minutes feeling sad about it.

10. Remind myself it was not wasted effort. I learn something from each new thing I write.

11. Start a new story.

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