- Remove distractions
- Set a timer for 30 minutes
- Plan the next few scenes of your story
- Write with reckless abandon
Seem simple? That’s because it is. The value is in ACTUALLY doing it and learning something about what distracts you, how you plan, and where you get hung up in your writing. Focus may seem like a simple thing, but think about how many times you’re interrupted throughout the day. It could be the people around you, your phone, or THE INTERNET OH GOD THE INTERNET. The reality is that we’re rarely 100% focused. This exercise will help you focus and unlock your ideal writing velocity.
So, if you’re up for a challenge, follow along. Or, if you’re in the middle of something, bookmark this page and come back when you’ve got half an hour.
Ready? Let’s go.
First, you probably know about how many words you write per hour. 500? 1,000? 4,000 (overachiever)? That’s about to increase. Go to your desk or your lavish study or your virtual Japanese garden or wherever it is you write and open up the project you’re working on. If you’ve got a spouse or a roommate or a needy cat, make it clear that you’re not to be interrupted. This is you time. Do they get it? Good. Grab the biggest, sound-dampeningest headphones you’ve got and play whatever music helps you get in the zone. Open up a timer and give yourself 30 minutes.
Now, before you hit go, take a minute to think about your next couple thousand words. Where are you in your story? What’s about to happen? If you’ve got an outline, you’re a step ahead. If not, no problem. How is the story moving forward? What are your characters feeling? Are you setting the stage for something even farther down the line? Give yourself the clearest vision possible.
You should be chomping at the bit to get your thoughts down on the page. First, a few ground rules:
- Don’t look back
- Don’t fix typos (this one’s difficult)
- Focus on your writing -- try not to stare longingly out the window or glance at the timer
- Keep those fingers flying. Write as fast as you can
Alright. When you’re ready, start your timer and begin writing. I’ll wait.
How’d it go? Take a look at how many words you wrote. Multiply that by two and you’ve got your words per hour. How does it compare to your usual velocity? You should notice a significant increase. By being deliberate about your writing sessions, you can do serious damage in as little as 30 minutes. This concept applies to any type of work. Where do you lose focus, and how does it affect your velocity? You can string these sessions together for as long as you want. It's helpful to hit reset every once in a while so you can gather your thoughts and maximize the time you spend barreling forward at breakneck pace.
And this is just the beginning. Over time, you can find ways to increase your velocity even further. Ever hear of a writer who outlines down to the last sentence? How about a writer who rolls the dice, says a prayer, and belts out a whole novel without a single word of planning? A writer who uses a mechanical keyboard? One who scrawls a story across dozens of little notebooks? My point is there are a million ways to go about writing a book. Little experiments like this will help you find the methods that work for you.
I hope this helped you write faster. You have the power!