Typewriter

Every year I read the same things about the speed of my writing.


"You're making a lot of mistakes, eh?"
"You will have to cut a lot of those words."
"You are writing garbage, because you're too fast."
"You will ruin your hands in no time."
"You're ruining the spirit of NaNoWriMo."


My first official NaNoWriMo was in 2013; before that I did one Camp NaNoWriMo. In 2013, I completed the 50k in 5 days and wrote a total of 120k words that month. A couple of days before the 1st of November I read about the #50k5Days challenge and considered participating in it. I wasn't prepared for it, but I really wanted to try it out. So I did.

When I finished the last thousand words I was really proud of myself.

But then somebody came up and asked me, how much of what I wrote was I going to toss out (because of its supposedly bad quality). I was astonished, because I thought that the draft was quite decent, so I reread it, to see who of us was right. Turned out it was me. There was no drop in quality compared to stuff/stories written outside of the challenge. There weren't more mistakes, there wasn't more sloppy writing. It was like everything else I wrote, just a lot more in less time.


So how did I manage that?

First of all: I don't recommend going into the #50k5Days-challenge unprepared like I did the first time. I've done this challenge a couple of times by now and I can tell you it is way easier if you prepare for it.

But how do you properly prepare yourself for such an outrageous challenge?

By learning how to write faster without compromising your quality. It is a skill you can learn and everyone can do it. 

When I started I wrote about 1,5k-2k per hour; nowadays, my word-count has doubled. A friend in my writing group wrote about 250 words in a 15min Wordsprint, now she is at around 600 each time.

At the beginning of last year I read a little book called 'From 2k to 10k' by Rachel Aaron. You can find a condensed version of the topics she writes about in her book on her blog. In that book, she mentioned how she managed to write faster and it worked for me and a lot of people in my writing group as well.

She says you need three key requirements to accomplish the goal of writing faster:

  1. Knowledge
  2. Time
  3. Enthusiasm

And I think it really helps to keep these three things in mind. Even as a pantser, you can use the knowledge thing! I did it myself. Everytime I do a wordwar or set myself a time for writing, I think about what I will write beforehand. It can be as little as "What will my character do in this next scene?" and if I take a couple of minutes beforehand to think about it, I write a bit faster. I still improvise a lot, but just having thought about the starting point and what will happen helps me to get into the scene much faster and provides me with enough knowledge that I don't have to stop midway to think about what the hell I'm writing.

The second thing is about time. It is not only about making time, but using your most creative and efficient time for writing. My perfect writing time is between 3-5pm and 8-10pm. This is when I will write a lot more in the same amount of time than I would, say, early in the morning. How do you find out when your most efficient time is? You try it. For one to two weeks, you write at different times and check how much you wrote, how easy it was for you to write it and if it is possible to write at that time in your day to day life.

Something else I'd like to add: If you like to do wordsprints/wordwars like me, try to find your perfect time there as well. I get my best results when I do a 15-20mins sprint, 30mins on some days. I tried a lot of different times and some just work for me and others are too short or too long.

The last and probably the easiest and hardest of the three things is enthusiasm. Love your story, love what you're writing and actively want to write it. It helps a lot if you're really excited about your story. When I'm writing scenes that I wanted to write since I started, I automatically write faster. Also, it helps you through the scenes you dread writing, or that are hard to write. Because if you manage to write those, you will end up in an exciting scene again.

Sometimes it is hard to motivate yourself, especially when you're behind on your word-count or you're not fully satisfied with what you've written. For me, it helps to start every project with a sheet of paper on which I write downwhy I am excited about the project and why I wanted to write it in the first place. You have to be excited about your project if you want to write faster.

With all that said: you don't have to write fast to write well, neither do you have to write slow to do so. Speed and quality don't have a lot in common. Some people tend to write faster from the beginning, others like their slower pace.

Don't compare yourself to other people. You will see your progress and you will learn that you don't have to compromise your quality for speed. Speed is just another tool in your toolbox.