are not all cut from the same cloth. We enjoy different genres,
different styles, even different points of view. Some like to plot,
others write by the seats of their pants. Some approach work
methodically, pondering, writing, and editing as they go. Still others
race toward the goal, writing five, ten or even fifteen thousand words
No, we’re not all alike, but we
all have the same goal in mind: to write the best possible piece and
get it into an editor’s capable hands. And we long to do this in a
timely manner so that we can move on to the next piece. This is
particularly important if we’re supplementing our fiction habit by
writing articles and devotions. We have to use our time wisely to bring
in that additional income.
Oh, I hear you saying, “Fast
work is sloppy work.” Not necessarily. Some write best when under the
gun. I tend to think my writing is “truer” when I’m in a hurry. No time
to overthink as I go. What spills out, spills out . . . and it’s
usually fresh and edgy.
So, how to increase daily word
count? How can we zip-a-dee-doo-dah toward the goal so that we can sell
more money-garnering pieces? Here are a few ideas to speed up the
1. Whether you’re working on
your novel or supplemental nonfiction pieces, give yourself a deadline.
If you’re not writing against an editor-induced deadline, give yourself
a personal one. You might consider upping the ante a little bit by
entering the book in a contest with a very real deadline or by
promising your critique partners a certain number of chapters by the
end of the week. These self-imposed deadlines become even more real
when you write them down. Add them to your calendar and take them
seriously. Ask a friend or critique partner to hold you accountable so
that you won’t slack off over time.
2. Set a timer when you write.
This sounds so simple, but it really works. Set a timer for an hour (or
whatever length of time you have to write), and don’t get out of the
chair, no matter what. Lately I’ve been timing myself to work in
twenty-minute increments with a five to ten minute break in between.
Because I struggle with autoimmune arthritis, I get up out of my chair
and exercise for a few minutes during my break time, then go back to
work. Exercise helps me physically, but it also energizes my thought
processes and frees me to think more creatively about that next portion
of the article or book.
3. Set word-count goals. Tell
yourself that you’re not going to get up from the chair until you’ve
written five hundred words (no matter how long it takes). You might not
reach your goal, but chances are pretty good you’ll be a lot closer
than if you’d never set the goal in the first place. And remember,
those daily word-count goals really add up. Let’s say you’ve been
writing a thousand words a day and you challenge yourself to write
1,250. Over a five-day period you’ve added 1,250 additional words to
your work in progress. That’s nothing to sneeze at!
Write in strategic chunks of time. When I’m under the gun, I’ll write
three times a day, setting a word goal of two thousand
sitting. For you, it might be five hundred words per sitting. Doesn’t
matter. You will get more done if you tell yourself you can do it and
if you divide your workday into segments (with a couple of hours of
downtime in between).
5. Don’t edit as you go. I know,
it’s tough not to! Turn off that internal editor and let the words
flow. Write anything that comes to mind, even gibberish. It can be
edited out later. If you really struggle with this, try closing your
eyes to type. (Obviously this only works if you’ve memorized the
6. If you’re stuck, use word and
phrase association. Look at the chapter you’ve just written and pull
out words or phrases that refer to some future event. Maybe you’ve
written that Susie has just learned she’s expecting a baby boy. Instead
of pondering what comes next in the story, jump ahead and write the
scene where Susie gives birth to her baby boy. Chances are pretty good
that scene will pour out of you and will inspire you to write other
7. Use writing prompts or other
creative writing exercises. Consider a course on creativity. There’s
nothing like stirring the imagination to speed up the process. A
creative thinker is a creative writer. A creative writer is a zealous
writer. A zealous writer reaches goals and earns money. (See how that
works? Creative people are “freed up” to write faster because their
minds are already active and engaged.)
Above all, value your writing
time. Cherish it. Protect it. Don’t give in to the temptation to check
your e-mail, browse Facebook, or video chat with a friend. Focus,
focus, focus! Write, write, write. Then next month, you can look back
over the distance you’ve traveled. I’d be willing to bet you’ll blow
yourself away with how much faster you’re writing and how many more
pieces you’re selling.
What are you waiting for? Stop
reading this article and grab that timer. You’ve got work to do!