A couple of new authors asked how long it takes to write a book. They want speed-writing methods. 🙂 To write quickly, you need discipline and organization: your seat on a chair, and a system for keeping your materials organized.
Set a deadline
You also need a deadline. I’m much faster on clients’ ghostwriting projects than I am on writing my own books, because I know that that deadline is there. Most writers are like that: we need a finish line.
So decide on your deadline. Make sure that there’s a penalty for missing your deadline. You could make a deal with a writing buddy: if you miss the deadline, you’ll pay for a night out for both your families.
When are you most creative?
I’m most creative early in the morning, and late at night. When my kids were small, I wrote late at night. Then I switched to writing books in the early hours, and I’ve stuck with that. However, if I’m on deadline for a project, I’ll write for another couple of hours after ten in the evening.
Ideally, you’re a little tired when you sit down to write. Here’s why. If you want to write quickly, you need good communication between your right and left brain; it helps to be not quite awake. Some writers drink a glass of wine so that they’re a little muzzy; it eliminates their inner censor. I don’t recommend alcohol; it can be a slippery slope.
Next, work out how much you can write in a day.
How much can you write in a day?
If you’re working a day job, it may be a challenge to write for more than three hours. Even if you’re a full-time writer, writing for more than four hours a day on one project is difficult. You can do it, but you’re likely to write yourself into a corner, if you’re writing fiction.
Let’s recap. You have a deadline. You know when you’re most creative. You’ve also decided how many hours you can write each day. Assuming you know the number of words in the project, you can now work out how long it will take you to write your book.
Want to challenge yourself?
If you want to speed up the writing, you can do sprints on a weekend day, and set a high goal for that day’s word count.
For example, Dan Norris is writing 10,000 words in one day; he’s blogging. His process:
- Create a rough draft as quickly as I can (ideally 1,000 words in 40 minutes or so).
- Create the posts directly in WordPress and add images and links as I go.
- Have a few minutes away from the computer.
- Go back and review the post.
A sprint day, when your challenge to yourself is “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” can boost your word count.
Use a sprint day when you’re falling behind schedule. For example, let’s say your book’s 60,000 words, and you’re aiming to write 2,000 a day. The occasional sprint day, in which you write 4,000 words can help you to make your deadline of 30 days.
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