How to Write Faster

How to write faster

How to write faster.

Writing fast is the latest rage, especially among indie authors. Whether I’m reading blog posts or listening to podcasts, there’s an overwhelming emphasis among indies on how to write faster.

Nobody’s talking about writing well.

But there are a lot of benefits to writing fast, if you can do it. The faster you write, the more works you can produce. Theoretically, that means more money in less time. Many people write slowly or write only when they feel the urge, so jumping on the write-fast bandwagon can help a lot of writers get more motivated and focused.

But there are some drawbacks to writing fast, especially if writing fast means you’re skipping steps in the writing process (such as multiple revisions) or skimping on important elements of publishing (like getting a professional edit). Deliberate writing and professional-level publishing leads to higher quality work, and if you’re speeding through the process, you might miss some important details and end up with a shoddy book full of typos and plot holes.

Sometimes you have to choose between writing fast and writing well, but most of the time, I think the best practice is to find a balance.

Tips for Writing Faster

I have to stand firmly against the notion of whipping through projects and throwing them at people when they are hardly past the draft phase. But at the same time, I think a lot of writers could use some tips to help them pick up the pace, keep projects moving along, and most importantly, finish what we start and then put it out there for other people to enjoy. In that spirit, here are some basic tips on how to write fast while also writing well:

1. Plan ahead. Instead of staring at a blank page and wondering what to write, work out the details ahead of time. Try outlining to plan what happens in your story, or go deeper and write detailed story beats. Using an outline allows you to find plot holes and inconsistencies before you start drafting, which can be a huge time saver that results in fewer revisions later. That means while you’re drafting you can focus on telling the story rather than worrying about what story to tell.

2. Do it daily. If you write every day, you’ll finish your projects a lot faster than if you work on them only when the mood strikes. It might seem like twenty minutes or five hundred words a day isn’t much, but it adds up over time, and it’s a lot more than producing zero words each day.

3. Track your productivity. When drafting, it make sense to track both your time and your word count to get an idea of how many words you write per hour. Try writing at different times of the day, in different locations, and with different environmental stimuli (like sounds) to see which setting you’re most productive in.

4. Turn off your inner editor. Save time by ignoring typos and grammatical errors as you work through early drafts. If you make significant changes to the content later, early edits might end up discarded. Instead of spending valuable time revising prose that might get cut, focus on the content in your early drafts, and worry about the mechanics when the project is nearing completion.

5. Establish a production schedule and stick to it. If you know you can write five hundred words a day and you want to write a 50,000-word draft, you can calculate how long it should take. Working out a schedule is a good way to stay motivated. You might even set up rewards for when you reach major milestones like first draft completion. However, creativity is a fickle beast, so be sure to strike a balance between sticking to your schedule but allowing some flexibility for when you run into creative problems, like realizing you have to scrap and rewrite an entire subplot.

Do You Write Fast?

Do you have any tips on how to write faster? How do you feel about writing fast versus writing well? Do you think it’s possible to do both? What do you think about writing and publishing a full-length novel every month? What about every three months? Once a year? What if it takes eight years? Take some time to think about your productivity and your goals, and then get back to writing!

10 Core Practices for Better Writing

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.


10 Responses to “How to Write Faster”

  1. Glynis Jolly says:

    Writing fast isn’t an option for me. I have only one hand to use for typing. I don’t think I’d like doing the fast pace anyway. I want to be able to fully understand what I write first time around, and I want to improve my writing with each word I write. These things can’t be done when insisting on speed.

    • It sounds like you know your own process and what works best for you. For me, every project is different. Sometimes I can write fast; other times I need to work more slowly.

  2. opsimath says:

    Wise words, useful tips. Thank you once again, Melissa; your blog never fails to fascinate us and bring us new insights.

  3. opsimath says:

    Before Melissa begins a new thread I would like, if I may, to add another ‘two-pennyworth’.

    I have come to realise that it doesn’t matter whether you write fast or slow, or even well or badly, when you are trying to get ideas into words on a page.

    The only important thing is to write SOMETHING. I can’t remember who said it, but I remember reading something like, ‘You can improve a lousy page; you can’t improve a blank one’.

    It would be nice to write quickly, but don’t forget that if you write just one page a day — and Enid Blyton wrote ten thousand words a day(!) — by the end of the year you will have the draft of a novel; take another year to iron out the bugs and you have a finished one.

    Surely that can’t be too bad?

    Thank you again, Melissa, and God bless you and Writing Forward.

  4. Tikkay khan says:

    I’m writing first time here, but I’m your old reader, I’ve read many post of your blog. I think your blog is best for beginner and expert writers. I like your writing way and explain things in a clear way. I’ll appreciate your effort towards writing.

    About this post, I agree with you, because writing fast enhance your ability to write, but later you can proofread and make it vivid. But most importantly reading is another good thing which enhance your writing power as well. I read many blogs and journal on weekly basis. One thing I want to add here, writing fast on specific topics can make your idea clear and you can get command on specific topic. Am I right?

    • I don’t think writing fast enhances your ability to write. It can lead to publishing more books in less time, but it’s important to consider the quality of those books and whether fast writing is impeding the books’ potential. I do think writing fast is useful for getting ideas onto the page for a rough draft, but that’s only if ideas are flowing fast and you’re writing fast enough to keep up with that flow. And of course, as I mentioned in the post, experienced writers may be able to write fast (and well).

      I also don’t think writing fast on specific topics makes your ideas clear, although as I said, it can help you access your flow of ideas.

      However, I’m only speaking for myself. Every writer is different. I find that when I’m working on nonfiction, I do a very rough first draft and write fast to get my ideas out. Sometimes it’s not even a draft; it’s more like a brainstorming session. The next draft is a rewrite, and it’s much slower because that’s when I start doing the real writing. I really think each writer needs to experiment and finds what works best.

  5. Britton Swingler says:

    There are few things I find more disappointing than reading a book that has not been vetted by honest readers and a great editor, or that has been shoved into some format, Kindle for example, without proper considerations. It’s distracting.

    I don’t care how great an idea is, I’m not interested in reading it if the author has not done his or her due diligence. A good idea written badly is a bad book, one that I won’t finish reading. Even great writers, writers who have an excellent command of language, expression, form, grammar, and the like use editors who can take a fresh look at a manuscript to which the author has grown too close to be objective.

    In 2014 I participated in NaNoWriMo simply because of the daunting challenge to write so much (a short novel) in such a brief span of time. I wanted to see if I could do it: complete an honest-to-goodness novel that hung together. I finished just prior to Thanksgiving (my goal), eeking out just over 50k words, but I wouldn’t dream of putting this novel out there as it is, despite the fact that I attempted, as I wrote quickly, to put something more than drivel on the page. It’s simply not ready, nor am I convinced it’s good enough to see the light of someone else’s day.

    Could I benefit from writing faster? Perhaps…but I think, as you’ve said, more often is the key for me.

    • I’ve encountered a lot of books that were published long before they met their full potential, and a lack of beta readers and editors is blatantly apparent. It is frustrating, especially when the book looks good (and maybe the first chapter is pretty good). I feel like I’ve wasted too much money on such books in recent years. It’s usually not a problem with the story — but it’s obvious that the book wasn’t properly polished and I can’t get through it.

      I find that some of my best ideas flow when I’m writing super fast, but that material is certainly not reader-ready. I think the word “fast” is misleading in this case, because the problem isn’t so much that people are writing too fast; it’s that they’re serving their books to the market before they’re done cooking! We can write as fast as we want and edit as fast as we want; that means we’ll probably need to render more drafts and revisions. Or we can write slow and do fewer drafts and revisions. What matters in the end is a professional, polished product.