How to Write More - Tips & Tricks
for a Quick First Draft
by Jo Hart
Committing to write a certain word count within a short period of time can be daunting. You start the first week or so with high motivation and the words spill out onto the page. However, after the first or second week, your motivation starts to lag and the words don’t flow quite as easily.
From my years participating in NaNoWriMo and ChaBooCha, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks to help get out decent chunks of words in a short amount of time. This has been especially vital for me as I’ve always had to fit my writing into small spaces of time due to kids and work.
1. Start With an Outline. This one is a bit too late for this round of ChaBooCha, but something to keep in mind for future writing challenges. Having an outline, even if it is as simple as having a beginning, problem and ending worked out, will help you keep momentum going. Knowing in advance how you want the story to end means, even if you veer off on different tangents while you are writing, you always know where you are going and have something to write towards. This helps a lot with staving off writer’s block.
2. Turn Off All Distractions. Turn off your phone or put it away. Close your internet browser. It’s so easy to ‘just check Facebook’ and find yourself pulled into the rabbit hole of the internet. Choose writing over TV. Sometimes I grab my old school notebook and pen and go sit outside to write. P.S. Writing outside is a good way to write when you have kids. They’re happy playing while you can watch them easily and write at the same time.
3. Write or Die. If you haven’t heard of this you need to check it out: writeordie.com. Basically you set yourself a goal (eg: 200 words in 30 minutes) and set a punishment. If you stop writing for too long the punishment comes into effect. The punishment might be as gentle as a reminder to keep writing or as severe as erasing your words! It’s a great motivator and a great way to churn out those words in a short amount of time or push past writer’s block.
4. Just Write. Don’t worry about fixing typos as you go, or wondering if that dialogue sounds right, or going onto Google to research how people dressed in the 15th Century. That’s the sort of stuff that can wait until you go back to do revisions. If you’re not sure if something is accurate (eg: 15th century clothing or modern day forensics) just write what you think, for now, and highlight it or put some kind of place marker so you can research it later during revisions. When you stop to fix or research, you derail the flow of your writing. The aim for your first draft is to keep getting words down on the page until you get to the end.
5. Raise the Stakes. If you’re struggling to get through writing a scene in your manuscript because it’s tedious, raise the stakes! Chances are if you’re finding it boring to write, your reader will find it boring to read. Make it exciting. Add conflict.
6. Reward Yourself. Give yourself incentive for reaching goals, eg: hit 10,000 words, buy that new book you’ve been eyeing off. Alternatively, you could make deals with yourself, eg: you can only crack open that double choc fudge ice-cream if you hit 1500 words today, or you can only watch that movie on TV tonight if you hit 2000 words.
Jo Hart is an Australian author with stories published in a variety of anthologies and online. Her writing blog johartauthor.com (which contains a multitude of articles and links for writers) is currently celebrating its 6th blogiversary. As part of the celebrations. Jo is running a COMPETITION where you can WIN an advanced copy of her soon-to-be-released short story collection Beautiful & Deadly. Also among the prizes is a chance to have an in-depth critique of your story (up to 10,000 words). Visit johartauthor.com to enter the draw!