Picking up Speed: Four Ways to Increase Word Count

Writing a book, or even a short story, can be a lengthy process. As a reader, it’s hard to understand the amount of time that’s been invested in a piece of work. As a writer, this can be one area where we’d like to improve our game. I can write drafts pretty quickly, and I always do them in long hand. I find a blank screen really off putting. It makes my brain shut down and I sit literally staring at the cliched, blank page, except it’s a white screen. Here are a few tricks I use to pick up speed in my writing. As with all other areas of the craft, some of these may work for you and some may not.

1. Outline what you want to write before you sit down to do the writing. Sounds a bit odd but I just bullet point who, what, where and some summary note of what the scene is all about. It means you don’t start from a blank page.

2. Timed sessions. I don’t know about you but I could write for hours and hours if I allowed myself. However, I don’t think I do my best writing this way. I’ve learnt to write in 25-30 minute sprints and then take five minutes out. Just to put the pen down, or stretch the fingers. There are timers for this but your phone, laptop or clock is good enough!

3. Find your preferred time. I used to try and make myself write at any time of the day but I soon learnt that it didn’t produce a good experience. I’m much more productive in the morning. After a session with my morning pages my head is usually in the right space. Try it out and find out when your best time is. This is more difficult if you have lots of other commitments or calls on your time but it may help you to schedule those moments.

4. Start small. Then build up to a bigger word count. I try and do the six word story challenge (think Ernest Hemingway and the baby shoes) most days because at least I’ve written 6 words! My best word count is over 10,000 on one given day (during NaNoWriM0) but on average I can log up around 6000 words.

Let me know if any of these work for you and better still, if you have any other methods you use to increase your word count.



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