Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Fast Writing

A few posts ago I asked you, my loyal readers, to let me know if there was anything you wanted me to post about.  T.F. Walsh asked how I manage to write so fast.

Now, I don't feel like I write all that fast.  My friend Jolene, now she writes fast.  My friend Kelley too.  They both seem to be finishing projects every two weeks or so, while I tend to struggle with mine for six -nine months.

That said, the new project I'm working on (tentatively called The Sidewalk's Regrets) is going fast.  I started it nine days ago and have written almost 15K.  Why is this one going so quickly?  I don't know.  I haven't written an outline.  I found the story about six days before I started writing it, and it's just bursting through me.  I know exactly what happens, the whole arc of the story from the get go, and writing it has been very easy.

I set myself word limits to make sure I get the most out of my writing time, which due to work and kids is pretty limited.  I know that when things are flowing, writing 1500 words or so in an hour is very possible. I know I usually get 5 nights a week to write in, plus one longer stretch on a Wednesday.  While it's tempting to set myself a 10K per week goal, I also know it's not always realistic, so I set myself a 7K a week goal.  Since most of my first drafts are around 70 000 to 75 000 words, that's 10 weeks to finish the draft.

Then I let it rest for a while, usually a week or two, depending on whether I have something else I want to work on or on work commitments.  Then revising starts.

And maybe that's why Tania thinks I write fast.  I never post chapters of my WIP for my critique groups until I've finished the first draft.  My first drafts are messy and chaotic and the chapters are sketches more than full scenes.  But having that skeleton of a book, makes it easier for me to fill out the details and ensure the pacing is correct.

So once I start revising, it is fast.  I usually set myself the challenge of revising one chapter per day, so once I get on this cycle, I post about one chapter per day to my critique groups.  Most of my books are around 30-35 chapters, so the revision process usually takes me another 4 or 5 weeks to complete.

And of course, once my critique partners have torn through it, there's usually more revising and rewriting to do.  So all up, if everything goes smoothly, I think it takes me on average 6 months to 'finish' a book.  Which is probably why I managed two books per year, and have done for the last three years.

Do you write fast?  What's your process?


  1. When I sit down and make myself write I can dawdle with edits or churn out a few thousand, it depends on what I'm doing. but I am absolutely, definitely creating an outline/storyboard/map what-have-you next time before I start writing. I already have about 4k of my next story but I'm not doing any more writing on it until I map out the plot. I've gone crazy doing everything backwards (it seems) and feel like I can accomplish more writing if I plan ahead better. Less roadblocks.

    1. That's interesting. I've tried planning and I find it harder to write because I know what's coming up and I get bored. I tend to write a first draft first, then outline for revision purposes.