I’m not George R. R. Martin.
I know, it’s a shock. If you see me in real life, you might be excused for mistaking me for the author of Game of Thrones. We’re both somewhat rotund. We can both be jovial. He’s got more hair than I do, but we both wear glasses.
But apparently I write much faster than he does. Of course, so do surly seventh graders who complain about having to write out two whole paragraphs for a school assignment, but that’s beside the point.
I realized it yesterday. I was chatting with my writing partner Nathaniel Peters. We had outlined Dinos of the Old West and divvied up the responsibilities months ago. It was time to take a look at what we were supposed to do next.
I told him, “Yeah, I need to revise two novels before working on the next part of the project.”
“Oh. Do you need me to write it so you have time to get that done?”
“Nah. I should be able to wrap all that up in two months at absolute most. Probably a lot more quickly.”
He was a bit stymied. Revising two books in less than a month each? Who can live at that pace?!
Ah, but I’m not really anything special in that. I know some authors who write 18 novels a year.
So, how do you do it? How can you write so much?
First, approach your writing as work. You need to get the final project done by a certain date. Set yourself a goal to complete the entire thing. Make that goal challenging but still realistic. Maybe for you it’s a month for a novel. Maybe it’s three months. Figure out what’s right for you and set that final date.
Second, once you have that bigger goal, figure out what you need to do every day to complete your full project. Do you need to add roughly 2,000 words a day? Then you need to add roughly 2,000 words a day. I would also recommend that as you figure that number out, you assume that you’ll be taking at least a few days off. Give yourself a bit of a buffer. And if you end up not taking days off? Hey, you get to finish early! Cool!
Third, I’d highly recommend that you outline. I’ve relatively recently learned how outlining greatly increases your speed at writing. You’ll still spend time pondering what happens next, but it’ll happen far less frequently. Instead, you can get words on a page.
Fourth, turn off the phone, close down the social media, and turn off the TV. Anything that distracts, turn it off. Sometimes that’s impossible, sure. I can’t turn off my toddler. But for whatever is physically possible, turn it off.
And last and most important, examine your attitude toward your writing. If it’s “merely” a hobby, you’ll have a lot of fun. There is nothing wrong with that! But if you’re trying to write quickly, approaching the words like it’s “only” a hobby will probably lead you to failure. Know what your goal is. Do you want to write for pleasure? Forget everything I just said. Go write for pleasure!
But if your goal is creating worlds that will also get you some pay, you need to approach writing as it is for you: Work. It’s not something optional. Yes, you set your own schedule, but one way or another it needs to get done.
So get it done.
Speaking of which, I should go revise. I’ve got work to do!