One of the posts I read years ago that was very influential for me was by Rachel Aaron, an author, and how she went from writing 2000 words a day to 10,000 words a day.
Do I write 10,000 words a day? Oh hell no. Possibly, maybe, I could build up to that kind of production rate. But it would take time and lots of deliberate muscle building exercises.
I quickly discovered that what Rachel said about the three points that she adjusted for writing more quickly have always been true for me. (Remember, this is not writing advice, telling you that you should be writing more quickly, more slowly, differently, with your pants on or off. YMMV. This is just me and my writing process.)
I’ve been, well, refining all three to work better for me and my process.
1. Knowledge. This is still paramount for me. I used to sit down with pen and paper before I started writing, plotting out the scene in front of me. Now, I merely open up a new Word doc. Sometimes I save those efforts. A lot of times I don’t bother, because I’ll only get a few sentences typed and BOOM I need to flip back to the main document to start writing again.
When I find myself stuck, it’s often because I’m looking too far out. I need to just pay attention to the next scene, the next paragraph, the next line. Opening up a document and typing out, “Okay, what happens next?” generally refocuses me down into the road directly before my feet. Fingers. You get the idea.
2. Enthusiasm. I absolutely, 100%, must be excited about what I’m writing. Apathy is the #1 killer for my writing. I must care. I must be excited. I must be giggling. Now, even when the subject matter is more somber, I still must be giggling, either about a turn of phrase, or a delicious twist of plot.
Without this enthusiasm, I don’t write. Period. It isn’t that I’m lazy or bad. I just can’t fake it. And only occasionally, can I build it. I need to feel it.
3. Time. This is the part that I’m still trying to figure out. It’s confusing, in some ways, because I’ve conditioned myself to write first thing in the mornings, as well as later in the afternoons and evenings. I had to use that type of schedule for writing because of the day job.
Now that there’s no day job, I’ve been trying to shift the writing into the time that was once taken up by the day job. I’ve had varying levels of success with that.
For the new novel that I started on Monday (A Sword’s Poem, historic fantasy set in Japan during the early Heian era, around 970 AD) I’m trying this new/old rhythm.
Get up earlish in the morning, walk, then write.
Make breakfast, answer email, read blogs, do house things, run errands, etc. Possibly until 2 PM.
Start writing again, and go until 7-8 PM.
So far, this has been much more successful than trying to just start writing at 10 AM and go until 6 PM with breaks.
Every novel has its own rhythm. I’ve had to change my writing process more than once to adopt to the demands of the newest project. I just hope that this writing time refinement kind of “sticks” as it were.