If you've downloaded our nifty NaNoWriMo calendar then you know that by the end of today, November 3, you should have already written 5,000 words. Depending on how fast you write, that could be a very intimidating number.
How do you write faster for NaNoWriMo? In this post, I'm going to share a trick I've used to help me write four books and over 600 blog posts.
What Makes Writing Fast So Hard?
Before we talk about how to write faster, though, let's talk about what slows us down.
The first thing that slows your writing down is lack of practice. As with any skill, whether it's playing the saxophone or shooting a basketball, the more you write, the more effortless it gets. If you're reading this blog, you probably already have a lot of practice writing, but do you have practice writing fiction? Do you have practice writing anything as long as a book? If not, perhaps NaNoWriMo is just the practice you need.
But remember, if you haven't had a lot of practice, you shouldn't expect the words to come pouring out of your fingertips like the river Nile flowing through Egypt.
The second thing that will slow your writing down is perfectionism.
You think: Oh no, Microsoft Word put a red squiggly under that word. I better fix it RIGHT NOW! What if I die in the middle of writing this and someone sees that it's not perfect? I'll be so humiliated!
It's fine to seek excellence in your writing, but if you want to succeed at writing fast for NaNoWriMo, perfection will have to wait at least until December. If you haven't read it already, here's why one editor says you shouldn't edit during NaNoWriMo.
3 Steps to Write Faster
The key to writing faster is to stop thinking so much, and the following mind trick helps you focus less on the words you're writing and more on the feeling of writing.
Warning: If you write this way, you will make typos, grammar mistakes, and other humiliating writing errors. Be prepared to grit your teeth and write anyway. You can fix them all in December.
Step One: Don't Look at the Words You're Writing
The first step to writing faster is to keep yourself from looking at the words you're writing. Instead, look around the room, go somewhere crowded and people watch, stare out the window.
Some people are too tempted by their computer and need to take extreme measures to keep from looking at the screen. Here are some ideas for the particularly editing inclined:
- Change your font color to a very light grey, making it very difficult to see. With this trick, if you have to read back what you've already written, you can, but it will be too difficult to change the average typo.
- Change your font to 4 pt, making it too small to see unless you get very close to the screen.
- Turn off your computer monitor. For the very brave!
- Alternatively, set the brightness on your computer screen so low you can't see the words.
- Remove your delete key. Here's a video on how to remove a key from your keyboard.
If you can keep yourself from seeing the words you write, you'll be forced to stop thinking so much trust your instincts.
Step Two: Focus on the Feeling of Writing
Now that you're not looking at the screen, the next step to stop thinking so much and write faster is to focus on the feeling of writing.
Instead of thinking about the words, think about how your fingers feel as they hit the keys, the feel of your hands moving quickly over the keyboard. Focus on your posture, the feeling of your back in the chair. Focus on your breathing.
Let yourself feel your writing as it happens.
When you look back, you'll be surprised at how much you've written.
Step Three: Later, Go Back and Edit!
Writing this way is sure to create a lot of imperfect prose. However, the knowledge that you're going to go back and edit later will help you focus on creating now.
So every time you cringe at the typo you've just made, remind yourself that you'll be fixing it in no time (just not NOW)!
Now, Go Write Faster!
Now that NaNoWriMo is finally here, it's the perfect time to stop thinking so much and practice writing faster.
Stop watching the screen for every typo that you make. Stop looking at your writing at all. Instead, just take a deep breath and enjoy the feeling of writing.
After all, doesn't it feel great to write?
How about you? How do you keep yourself from thinking too much so that you can write faster? Share in the comments section.
Work on your NaNoWriMo draft using this trick.
When you've reached your word count goal (1,667 words if you're writing everyday), share how it felt to write fast in the comments section.