How I went from averaging 3,000 words a week to over 10K.
- Read More.
If you thought I was going to start with anything else, you clearly don’t know me, or the industry, very well. The more I read, the more I write. Simple. Stephen King said it best. “If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the tools to write.”
- Write early.
Do it first thing in the morning. If this means getting up earlier than normal, decide if it’s worth the sleep loss. If it means not showering until later, wager your smelliness on a scale of 1 (fresh and clean) to 10 (hot garbage). Anything under a 6 warrants those extra words, in my opinion. Then again, I don’t have to smell you.
- Write late.
The words may be ghastly the next day, but they may be gold. I’ve written both by the side of my bed.
- Write when the iron is hot.
Write what you are enthusiastic about at the moment and you will write more. Write when you’re in the zone, no matter what time of day this is. No, you will not always be in the zone, and no, you will not always be able to do this. A great story idea, scene plan, or one-liner could come to you while you’re in the middle of a client meeting, bathing the kids, or at the proctologist. You won’t always be able to answer the call. But, if you can, do.
- Give something up. I recommend a TV show or the occasional happy hour outing or mommy play date, not, like a meal or anything. Please eat.
- Write during lunch a few days a week.
- Write while your kids are at practice or at an event that doesn’t require your constant interaction or cheering. (Make sure you have a notebook and pen with you.)
- Write during your commute, if you can. (*clears throat* Notebook and pen.)
- Write in the parking lot while the kids are sleeping or amused with a book of their own—or a movie because let’s be honest, they’re probably watching a movie or playing a game. It’s a safe place; we don’t have to lie to each other. (This only works if you always have…say it with me…your notebook and pen!)
- Learn to say “No.” Is it more important to volunteer at that bake sale? How about those dishes that your spouse/roommate/kids could easily do instead? Is someone trying to get you to cover a shift you don’t need? Tell them to stuff it (in the nicest way possible), your characters need more attention.
- Don’t stop to edit…yet. There will be a time for editing, but that time is not now.
- Shut off distractions to focus more.
- Go in a room and close the door.
- Turn off the internet/computer/phone/social media.
- Use music to get you in the right frame of mind, or fill your space with silence.
- Write with pen and paper if the computer is too distracting for you.
- Or, write every time you want to check social media. Take those five minutes you would usually spend scrolling through pictures of other people’s meals (that you don’t get to eat, mind you because this world is often cruel and unfair) and restructure an awkward sentence or practice writing descriptions of the things/people/events around you to use later.
- Have accountability.
- Sign up for #NaNoWriMo in November. This write-a-novel-in-a-month race is great practice for writers of all levels.
- Grab a sprinting buddy on twitter. Find an appropriate hashtag (like #amwriting or #1k1hr) and tweet that you’re “sprinting” for 15, 30, or 60 minutes starting at :00 (code for “top of the hour”) with an offer for anyone to join. Even if no one does, commit to it and post your word count when the time is up. You may even get some encouragement along the way!
- Use your writing friends, either in a critique group, a Facebook group, on Twitter, or in person to keep you on pace.
- Give yourself a deadline and a reward.
If you want to get as much out of your writing career as possible, it starts with writing as much as possible. If you don’t make time for writing, it will not make time for you. It’s up to you how you wish to treat this craft: as a hobby or a career. Both are fine. The choice is yours. Follow your heart, but take your brain with you!
Read this article. Lara has 5 [not to be missed] tips on Speed-Writing Your First Draft: