Recently, I’ve been struggling through the first draft of a sequel, and it’s taken twice as long as the Book 1 did. At first I thought it was simply because sequels are often harder, but as I examined my writing habits and compared them with what I was doing before, I realized that there were several things that helped me write a faster first draft. . . and I’d stopped doing them. Now, I’m committing to reestablishing some of these old tips and tricks that worked for me before, and I thought I’d share them with you!
So, here are my tips for fast drafting:
- Set a goal
This might not work for everyone, but for me, this is the absolute key to writing faster. When I don’t have a goal in mind, I tend to procrastinate. But having a goal in mind gives me the push I need to get those words written. Your goal can be daily, weekly, monthly, whatever works for you. You can plan to write a certain number of words or for a certain number of hours. Whatever your target is, make sure that it’s reasonable for you, but try to push yourself a little too.
- Remember it’s a first draft
First drafts will always be rough; there’s really no way around that. And the faster you write, often the messier the draft will be (or at least it will feel that way). But remember that it’s okay for your first attempt to be messy. No one else has to read it but you. All you’re focusing on right now is getting the words on paper, because you can’t edit on paper. Figuring out the right words will come later.
- Get ahead when you can
There are going to be days when it’s easier to write than others. Some days the words will just flow, and sometimes a hundred other things will happen and writing will seem impossible. When you’re having a good writing day, keep in mind that you might not have a good writing day tomorrow. So even if you’ve already hit your writing goal for the day/week/month, take advantage of any opportunity you have to get extra words down. You’ll be thanking yourself later.
- Be consistent
The more days in a row you meet your goals, the easier it will be to continue. I find that skipping days here and there, even when I’ve surpassed my goal at the time, always makes it more difficult to get back into it later. The more consistently you sit down to write, the more habitual it will become, and the easier it will be to start each time.
- Outline what you can
Not all writers can work with an outline, and that’s fine. There’s no one right way to write. But I do recommend that you give yourself as much of an outline or plan as you can, to guide you when the going gets tough. Even a brief, two paragraph synopsis or a couple of notes about future plot points will steer you in the right direction if you get stuck, and you’ll be less likely to get stuck if you know where you’re going. Think of it as a road map or a travel guide or whatever works for you, but having those notes in place can help speed up the process. And of course, if you love detailed outlines, then get detailed! Plan in whatever way works best for you.
What do you think? Do you fast draft? What helps you write first drafts faster? Let me know in the comments!
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