How Fast Do You Write?

One of my long-time friends has published more than 300 books in a twenty year span. She’s amazing, no doubt. But since the pre-published and the some-published (like me!) must complete a manuscript before agents or editors will seriously consider contracting it, the question becomes, “How fast can you write it?”
Writing Tip for Today: Some writers are gifted with an innate sense of story–no denying this. My friend certainly has no time to meticulously revise and polish her work. Maybe since she’s a bestselling writer, the editors do it for her. What can the rest of us mere mortals do to hasten completion of a novel before the end of the world?

  • Make sure you’re passionate about the novel. You’ll have a much tougher time slogging through a story you’re only writing to fit the market. And by the time it’s ready to go, the market will almost certainly have changed.
  • Set a weekly goal. If you have set your sights on a summer conference or if an editor is interested but wants the entire novel, set a schedule for yourself. I divide the number of words or chapters into the time frame and make it a priority to write at least a chapter or two per week.
  • Time to Outline? If you are under some sort of time crunch, make a scene outline for your story makes sense. I’m more of a “pantster,” that is I write by the seat of my pants without an outline, but if I’m trying to finish in a certain length of time, I don’t have the luxury of daydreaming and doing a lot of exploratory writing.
  • Don’t Neglect Reading. You may feel as if you don’t have time to read, but reading in your genre is more important than ever. You can be looking for the rhythm and flow, the tone of a published novel or the ratio between scene and narrative.
  • Workshop One-on-One. For those in a critique group, workshopping in the traditional sense is going to take a long time. Instead, try partnering with another writer and swap material to look for problem areas as well as areas that are terrific. Cheer each other on but don’t be a mutual admiration society. Good luck on finishing that first novel!

Third call: Katherine Hyde, recipient of Meg Moseley’s When Sparrows Fall. I need your postal address! Message me at Lindas352 at comcast dot net.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

5 comments on “How Fast Do You Write?

  1. I like the tip about being passionate about the story. An outline helps me do that. It makes me eager to hit those signposts.
    The word count at the bottom of the screen is a great comfort too.

  2. Great advice, Linda. I especially like the one about reading. I see a direct correlation between pleasure reading and creativity.

    I started “The Fence My Father Built” last night and I’m loving it!

  3. I’m glad to know there are other “pantsters” out there. I don’t always have an outline for the entire book and too many times great ideas happen that change the story in small ways, but end up being great ideas.

  4. Im not a fast writer. I go through spurts of having lots to say and then go through times of wondering if I have anything to say at all! This is great advice and I will put it to use, as I have several projects to finish.

  5. I got to hang out with my dear girlfriend, Melody Carlson while she signed books at Costco today. She’s such an inspiration–and tells me she’s only published 200+ books, not 300! Details, details . . .

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