Friday, August 27, 2010

Speed-Writing

It is possible to speed-write. Really.

Warning; long post ahead. Hopefully it may enlighten you, but just beware of longness. :)

A few weeks ago, maybe less, I decided to sit and write in my third novel after putting it off for a month. Before long, the plot went shoom! and took off like a bullet. In three days, I wrote roughly ten thousand words... Some of you may have noticed that my word count above this post has jumped to 30,000 words--only six hundred words less than my first novel, which has been my longest work of my life...up until now.

So does this prove my point? What makes a writer speed-write? How can it be done? I'll attempt to answer this in my post.

So some of you may be skeptical. "Ten thousand words? You're pulling my leg." No, I'm not. I really did write ten thousand words in three days, and it wasn't because I was such a 'great writer'--because I am not. Not close to it.

Here's the combinations of events that caused this strange phenomenon.

1)
Inspiration
This one doesn't exactly pop up when you need it, so it's a bit hard to find.

2)
Need
I needed to write, partially because I didn't have anything to read at the time.

3)
Schedule
I had time to do it; and I had to tell myself to do it as well--that's important

4)
Plot
The plot had me excited. I was laying awake in bed (does anyone else do that?) and I find that my mind wandered to my novel. The plot was a little floppy, which made me wonder what was wrong with it. I flipped a few mental strands of the plot around, and pow!--I was struck dumb by an idea that enforced the plot of my other books and advanced that one.


Now, here's a few suggestions on how to best use these forces to 'speed-write'.

1)
The Nudge [Inspiration]

Inspiration doesn't come at your beck and call--all writers (or most of them) know that. Inspiration comes and goes, and most of the experienced writers will tell you that you can't depend on inspiration. Well, guess what; you can't depend on inspiration. ;)

But, as I wrote in a post some time ago, inspiration can be nudged. Start writing. Immediately. You'll find that some degree, at least, of inspiration will come once you get going.

2)
I Wanna! [Need]

Like inspiration, need isn't set in stone. Sometimes you feel like you need to write, and sometimes you think you need to watch a movie. But be warned! If you watch the movie, you won't write--and that's not always a good thing.

But just like inspiration, you have to get going and force yourself to say, "I wanna!" And then, as your creative tank takes off, you'll find that you'll be saying this more often; 'Five more minutes, Dad, please! I want to finish the chapter." But the context is writing, instead of reading. Inspiration can't be started out of nowhere, but it can be kick-started.

3)
No Time! [Schedule]

This one is a little more up to you; you often decide what part of your schedule will be like, even if you have to do schoolwork before. Will you watch the movie, or will you write instead? Don't get me wrong, I'm not slamming movies. But if you have an opportunity to watch it later, and you know that you haven't written on your current project for a while, you are faced with a choice; watch the movie and miss out on writing (and starting that speedy writing engine), or watch it and put your writing off until later, when you'll feel even less inclined to write. Don't wait until you 'have nothing better to do' to write.

If your time is full, then MAKE time. How are you supposed to write with no time to do it? Surely, there's somewhere, something that you could do to give yourself even ten minutes to write. Give up blogging, if you must.

I was away from the Internet for two weeks, and did you see what happened? My word count jumped 10,000 words. A little thing to think about. :)

4)
Swordfights and Dragons and...Plots? [Plot]

This is one of the most important things to use to speed-write. Generally, great plots gets faster writing; floppy plots get slow writing, if any at all.

If you aren't writing, or if you aren't writing fast, you may want to take a look at your plot. Find holes where there isn't any conflict (one of the most important elements of a fiction story, and not necessarily physical conflict), and cut them. If the scene you're writing has a low conflict level, either add some conflict or cut the scene.

Stay up in bed pondering your plot! Add an unexpected ambush! Play out a chapter in your book outside (preferably where no one will see or hear you).

I can safely say, from my own experience, that the better your plot gets, the faster the writing may flow. There are some exceptions, though, (one of which I will discuss in a moment) and your Need also has a key place in your speed.


Besides this, conflict is a hidden fifth; who here likes writing some kinds of conflict or a verbal fight? I do! I can write those fairly easily, and they're fun to write. Another thing that spurs on your speed.

I'm almost done, so hang in there. I've got one more thing to say; get some sleep, or you'll be useless as a writer. The amount of sleep you've had and how tired you are is, believe it or not, essential to how fast you can write. :)

All right, I'll leave off here. Feel free to comment!

10 comments:

Galadriel said...

Ever done NaNoWriMo?

Star-Dreamer said...

Good post Jake! And all very true. :)

I did nanowrimo last year. It was awesome! Got somewhere around 38,000 words out... but unfortunately didn't finish it. That's ok. I'm not planning to do nano this year, but maybe next. I just have too much to do this year.

Jake said...

@Galadriel and Star-Dreamer

I have never done nanowrimo before. I have heard it mentioned, but I'm not quite sure what it is. Care to explain it? :)

Eric said...

Jake-

Great post! One aspect in speed writing that is critically important is also the most foundational; the skill of touch typing. The connection between touch typing and writing efficiency cannot be denied. A writer can possess everything that you listed, but without honed typing skills, it will be like hanging a 100 lb backpack on a marathon runner.


NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it begins November 1. (Thanks Mr. Google!)

What is NaNoWriMo?
http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/whatisnano

NaNoWriMo - Young Writers Program
http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/

NaNoWriMo Blog
http://blog.nanowrimo.org/

Now you know!

Sincerely,

Your old man

Squeaks said...

Great post Jake :) It's inspired me.

Squeaks.

Ian said...

I once wrote about 26,000 words in four days...and over 6,000 words in one of those days. Coincidentally, nanowrimo was the instigator of that particular incident. :)

Unfortunately, the storyline wasn't very good at all, and I'm not even sure that anything significant was happening. I plan to amass an army of plotlines and re-conquer my story this November.

:)Ian(:

Jake said...

@Squeaks
Thanks!

@'Eric' (Dad)
Ha ha. Very funny. :)

@Ian
Whoo! Nice job. Perhaps I should look into this 'Nanowrimo'... :D

Anonymous said...

Great post, Jake!

And yes, you should seek out NaNoWriMo. >_> I failed it last year but - (if I may be so bold as to blare my own trumpet) - triumphed grandly in its July counterpart, JulWriMo, a month or so ago.

*wonders if that all came out intelligibly*

You have a splendid blog, Sir Jake, and an excellent skill at creating solid, entertaining, and educational posts on how to write better. :) Thanks for the post!

-whisper

Jake said...

@Whisper

Thank you! I think I will try out NaNoWriMo, at least to feel it out. :)

Galadriel said...

I have won two NaNos and a JulNo. Hoping to make that three NaNos this fall