These five tips can help you plan, brainstorm, and make better use of the time you spend writing a book.
If you’ve ever started the process of writing a book – or even a blog post – you may have asked yourself, “How long will this take? Can’t I speed it up at all?” Many budding authors underestimate the time needed to write a really good and polished book. Some writers get bogged down halfway through; sometimes they even give up or put the project permanently on hold.
It doesn’t have to be like this! There are ways to speed up the writing process, and these tips can apply to writing that tricky blog post just as much as to writing a whole book.
1) Do your research and decide your structure before you start writing
This makes an enormous difference. To explain why, it’s easier to think about what happens if you don’t do this, rather than what happens if you do.
- If you don’t do your research:
- You run the risk that you’ll change your mind about the content and structure part way through writing, which results in you having to move chunks of text around, delete sections and get in a mess. Aargh!
- You might find that you don’t have enough content or material for a certain chapter. What will you do now?
- You might find one area is more complicated than you had anticipated, which means that you have to put the writing on hold while you do more research. This interrupts your flow.
On the other hand, if you spend some time up front developing a roadmap for your book, the process of actually writing it will come much more naturally and easily.
2) Get into a regular writing routine
Like networking, skiing, or pilates, writing is one of those tasks that gets easier the more you do it. So it’s worth setting up a regular writing schedule, ideally one in which you write something every day. If you can’t make it each day, try to make it several times a week. Once your writing juices are flowing, the words will tumble from your fingertips. But if you’re constantly stopping and starting, leaving weeks in between writing sessions, your momentum will be lost.
Try scheduling your time so you’re committed to it, having accountability partners who will track how much you’ve done each month, or even rewarding yourself each time you achieve a certain word count.
3) Snatch odd moments
Scheduling time is one thing you should do, and snatching the odd opportunity is another. Got 20 minutes to spare while you wait for a phone call? Even five minutes can be put to use; you could just review what you’ve written and make a tweak or two. These odd moments add up.
4) Talk it out
You may be one of those people who thinks better through talking instead of writing. Have you considered dictating your book and using transcription software (or a professional transcriber) to convert it to the written word? It’s worth experimenting with, especially if you find it really hard work to write.
5) Don’t worry about your first draft
A surefire way to slow yourself down is to allow yourself to worry that your first draft is terrible, and then go back and keep changing it instead of moving on. You use a different part of your brain to create than you do to judge. Allow yourself to write a “rubbish” first draft and let your creativity flow (actually it’s probably better than you think!). No one but you will see it, and you can apply your perfectionist streak to it later when you improve upon it.
There’s also a great post here by Joanna Penn on being productive with your writing (feel like throwing out the TV anyone?).
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