Oh how I wish I had more time to write, but I have to do what I can with the little time I manage to find. My average writing pace is 1ooo new words in an hour, I am happy with that, but I wondered if I could do better?
I started thinking about writing efficiency after reading a post on Magical Words about Writing Even Faster, and tips from Rachel Aaron on how she went from writing 2000 words a day to 10,000 words per day.
So, inspired by the latter post, I started tracking my writing in a spreadsheet and making notes on where I was writing, the time spent, and began experimenting with my writing time.
Here are a few things I tried out and discovered over the course of a week:
1) I usually outline each scene before I sit down to the keyboard. What I observed while watching the clock was that I would spend half an hour to an hour outlining, which is not efficient at all. The next time I sat down to outline, I set a time limit of 10 minutes. I realized there was a point where outlining ceased to be outlining and I was really writing each scene twice (once by hand, and once on the computer). By enforcing a time limit, I am able only to jot down the key points in a scene. However, these sparser outlines still serve their purpose. I know what I have to write so I don’t need to stop until the scene is done. It also gives me creative freedom to connect the dots. I still am a panster at heart ;)
2) Tried writing at different times of day: mornings, afternoons and evenings. I didn’t notice any difference in writing speed, which is a relief! I usually only am able to find time in the late evenings.
3) Tried writing with the internet on (I usually switch off the wireless). I ended up typing 500 words in an hour instead of 1000. I really need to keep the internet connection disabled when I’m writing. I get too distracted otherwise.
4) Tried taking a breaks between scenes and chunking my writing time. Some breaks were hours long and some were only minutes long. I noticed less back strain, and also found it easier to concentrate than when I’d sit for one long unbroken stretch. I ended up with a 4000 word afternoon doing this, and didn’t feel too mentally exhausted by the end of it.
5) I space out. I’ll be sitting at the keyboard and my mind starts drifting off to nowhere land. I didn’t notice this until I started timing myself. I’ve been working on staying focused. I don’t have to sit down as long if I stay focused, so I’ve been trying to stay aware and minimize it.
Result after 5 days of tracking and adjusting: My writing output has increased to 1600 words per hour. On my fastest writing session, I clocked in at 2000 words per hour. All of this, not because I’m typing any faster, but because I’ve cut out the dead time in my writing.
There are probably a few things anyone can do to write a little faster, no matter the writing process. Tracking my time was eye opening. I had no idea I wasted so much of it!
Do you have any tips for writing more efficiently? When do you find the time to write?