Guest Post: How to Write Quickly

Kat again! 🙂 I know I’m not the only one who’s always looking for ways to draft faster. So here today is indie writer Heather C. Myers to talk about ways you can increase your word count 

Writing manuscripts fast is pretty much mandatory in the indie publishing world if you want to be successful. Because anyone can publish a book now, it’s important for an indie author to produce quality work in an efficient amount of time in order to stay relevant, cross-sell and show readers that they’re committed to their audience by producing multiple books for consumption. It’s also important for traditionally-published authors, as they have deadlines they must adhere to. The challenge is: how do you generate quality material at a fast pace?

Outline: Outlining is what I recommend to every author who asks for writing advice. It reminds you where you want to take your story and why you’re writing it. Also, it prevents writer’s block in that you always know what you’re going to write! Outlines don’t have to be constricting and they’re not set in stone. I outline by writing 2-3 sentences that describe the main points for each chapter. Everything else, I come up with at the seat of my pants.

Give yourself a timeframe: How soon do you want to finish your novel? Is it a month? Two months? 1 year? Whatever it is, make sure you give yourself room for unexpected and last minute events that can happen—finals you have to study for, a birthday party or a vacation you have to go to. Remember—the shorter amount of time you give yourself, the more you’ll have to write. If I want to finish my manuscript in 6 weeks, I usually give myself 2 months, just in case.

Come up with a daily word count that fits with your timeframe: It’s important to come up with a number you believe you can achieve each and every day, so make sure you set your timeframe accordingly. It’s nice if you want to finish your 60,000-word novel in 2 weeks, but unless you can write 4,300 words for 14 days straight, it won’t happen. For me, I write 5 days a week, and 1,500 words every day. That will get me 7,500 words per week, 30,000 words per month. This means I finish a 60,000-word novel in two months—with the weekends off!

Now, don’t pick a big number because you want to get the writing part over quickly. It’s necessary you pick a word count you believe you can achieve every day. This way, you won’t burn out and you’ll feel accomplished every time you do meet it. It will push you to continue to write because you can see your results.  Maybe only 500 words each and every day works for you. 500 words written every day is still 3,500 words a week, 14,000 words a month.  Which means you’d finish your 60,000-word novel in just over 4 months. This may not sound like it’s fast, but if you consider that it takes people years to finish their manuscript (I’m looking you George RR Martin!), 4 months is not that long in the grand scheme of things. Plus, you have to think of writing with the turtle & hare mentality: If you start of strong but burn out, you’re not going to finish in the amount of time you want to. However, if you pace yourself and do a little every day, you’ll finish exactly on schedule.

Create a writing schedule: If your intention is to write fast, you need to keep yourself in check. Schedule your writing for every day you plan to write. This could mean you have to wake up early or you go to bed late—whatever works for you and your daily word count to ensure your writing won’t be interrupted.

Public accountability: Studies show that if you make a public declaration of something you intend to do, you’re more likely to follow it. Tweet out your daily word count goal and then tweet out if you matched it. Post it on Facebook. Have an accountabili-buddy. Hold yourself accountable and you’re more likely to succeed.

And there you have it! I follow these tips to the letter, even though I have a baby and a part time job, and it’s allowed me to write manuscripts in 6-8 weeks—which is perfect for my publishing schedule. Implementing these little tricks will do wonders for yours!

9511162HEATHER C. MYERS is a chick lit/romance/new adult indie author with 12 self-published titles on Amazon, and plans for more. She recently signed with Anchor Group Publishing, with the first book in two of her series to be released this month. You can find her watching the Anaheim Ducks during hockey season, traveling or at Disneyland with her family. She lives in Orange County, California with her husband, her daughter, two step-sons and two rambunctious terrier-mixes.  To learn more about her, please sign up for her reader’s list here:


5 Responses to Guest Post: How to Write Quickly

  1. Frances Brown Aug 7 2015 at 5:41 am #

    Thanks for these pointers, Heather. It’s so true that unless you set goals, they’ll never be met. My first published novel was the result of challenging myself to Nanowrimo – 50,000 words in a 30 days. A tough one, and some days I didn’t think I’d make it. Some days I was sure what I wrote was crap. But by Nov. 30 that year I had 54,000 words and The End. It was far from perfect, but it was finished. Now, it’s published.

    Your post was an inspiration, and a reminder. Thanks!

    • Heather Aug 7 2015 at 10:43 am #

      That’s amazing! Congratulations! A lot of the time, I don’t really see what I’m writing while I’m writing, especially since I’m only writing a select number of words every day. But then when I read the manuscript, I think: You know, this isn’t so bad. I’m glad you enjoyed the article and thank you so much for your comment.

  2. Abby Aug 7 2015 at 10:12 am #

    Thanks for the suggestions. It’s heartening to think about how quickly those word counts add up, as long as you stick with a regular writing practice. And aiming for a specific word count every day has really worked for me!

    I’m curious about your outlining method–do you ever have to deviate from the outline, and does that affect your working schedule? With my current WIP, I’ve been changing the outline (or at least changing scenes) almost every week as I discover new information about my characters and the story, and that sometimes slows me down. I’d love to learn how you deal with this, if it’s an issue for you.

    • Heather Aug 7 2015 at 10:47 am #

      Hi Abby,
      To answer your questions, yes, my outlines can change. With my current WIP, which is a sequel – 7 of my chapters are definitely not hoe I’ve iutkined them. However, they’re much better than the ones I’ve outlined. When I write, there tends to be a flow. I use my outline as a general map of where to go and what needs to get done for me to get my characters where they need to go. A lot of the times, especially in sequels, my characters are rebellious teenagers and want to do what they want to do, rather than what I’ve set out for them. I give myself permission to listen to them, and the story usually turns out better than I originally intended it to.

      I hope that helps! Thank you for your comment!

      • Abby Aug 7 2015 at 12:01 pm #

        Thanks, Heather, that is very helpful. I’m also finding that it’s usually better to deviate from the outline if the characters want to do something else, even if it feels frustrating at the time.

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