Thursday, February 21, 2013

How To Write a Book Fast


I'm sure we've all heard the swirling stories of authors who wrote their book in a few days or weeks, signed with their agent shortly thereafter, and sold it at whiplash speed!



I sure have. And every time that I've heard a version of this Fantasy-like story, I want to B-slap myself in the face. Or run full speed into a brick wall. Or some other really fabulous way to hurt myself.

The fact of the matter is that up until recently I have been a rather slow and steady writer. I took my time plotting, "brushing my cat" (see Blake Snyder's book on writing called SAVE THE CAT), and thinking things through. It could've been that I write thrillers which take a lot of planning...or it could be that I just plain sucked at writing fast!
 
At the LTUE Writing Conference, which I attended last weekend, I had an Oprah-esque "aha moment." I learned from presenter, L.L. Muir, that it is possible to write a complete 60,000 word manuscript (first draft) in three days. Of course possible and probable are two different things. But even if the goal is to write a manuscript in a month, it's good to have some guidelines and strategies. L.L. Muir gave me some, which I shall now freely share:
  • Research Michael Moorcock's helpful advice on the matter
  • Download Dr. Wicked's Write or Die program. It only costs $10 and it will help you keep track of your word count and time productivity. It's amazing how easily distracted we can be. A little punishment and/or prodding can help.
  • Get a hotel room or go away somewhere you can lock yourself away with as little distractions as possible.
  • Set goals. Hourly (1,200 words/minute is a good pace), daily (from 2,000 words to 20,000 words), and so on. 
  • Rally the troops. Have a "write day." On Monday of this week, my two CP's and I (Peggy Eddleman and Erin Summerill, locked all the children (and spouses) out of Erin's house and wrote for 8 hours. At a 1,200 word/hour pace, we should have written 10,000 words. Well, it was really hard and I only made it to 7,500 words before steam started escaping out of my overheated brain! But that's better than a kick in the groin, right? 



17 comments:

  1. I can see the benefit of just writing-- without censorship or any self-editing-- just get the words down. At least you'd have the work to go from and you could play it all out, like a movie. Not sure I could do that though! I think it takes a confident writer.

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  2. 7500 is amazing. Good for you.

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  3. I'm glad you were able to get so much done, but anyone who can write a novel, send it and get it published in a week, would definitely get b-slapped by me. LOL

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  4. That's a ton of writing in one day. I'm more of a 2k a day kind of pace. But that lets me finish in about 3 months and then I dive right back into the edit.

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  5. Thanks for the tips. I am a very slow writer, so this is helpful. Of course, if I would get off blogs and open my manuscript more that would help the most.

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  6. Wow! Well done - the thought of doing so many words so fast is making me sweat a little...

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  7. As nice as staying in a hotel for three days and pounding out a novel would be, based on how things have been going lately, I think I would be SO much better off just having write days like we did on Monday. I got so much done!!

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  8. That is awesome word count.

    Thanks for the tips. Getting rid of the distractions would help a lot.

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  9. 60,000 words in three days?! Holy cret, that would be cool. =)

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  10. I have a good friend who leaves her family behind and goes to a hotel for three days at a time. Not often, but she gets more writing done in those three days than the whole month before...

    I've written books in a week, but I don't recommend it. I totally zombie out, and can't function for a day or two afterward... The only nice thing is that I'm a writer who needs TIME away from my MS, and being able to write fast, gives me LOTS of opportunities to let the book sit between reads/edits/revisions...
    And I LOVE Save the Cat... LOVE.

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  11. You guys are awesome! That class was super interesting. I would seriously have to take a 3-day vaca by myself if I would ever complete it, but it might be worth it. I really want to get faster! :)

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  12. Gosh that word count sounds like a marathon! But I agree taking yourself away from 'normal' life for a day or two so you can focus must surely help. Maybe I'll be able to try it sometime!

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  13. There is a benefit to spewing out a book in a short time . . .less editing, more creativity, but I would say that the shortest time it took me to write one would be for NaNo, and then I had a lot of outlining, pre-writing, vignette type stuff written first.

    If you write at a slower speed, don't worry about it. Write the way that you write, and enjoy it!

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  14. i'm about to scratch the surface of save the cat for the online book club. hope there arent too many feline metaphors. i'm a dog purrrson =)

    and i say to each his/her own. getting away to a lonely hotel room might be nice, but we moms are needed at home.

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  15. Still 7500 is a huge day of writing! For me, I think I'm doing well if I can do 2000 a day. :)

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  16. I just heard Marissa Meyer, author of Cinder, speak at at library today. It took two years from her starting to write the book to its getting published.

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  17. Three days? Psht yeah RIGHT :D

    I set 30 minute "writercises" so that for those 30 minutes, I do absolutely nothing but write. Sometimes I only get one in and sometimes I squeeze in three. I usually get a lot more done though than I would have if I just told myself I was going to sit and write for three hours.

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