This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
----------------------------------------------------- Blogger Template Style Sheet Name: Scribe Designer: Todd Dominey URL: domineydesign.com / whatdoiknow.org Date: 27 Feb 2004 ------------------------------------------------------ */ /* Defaults ----------------------------------------------- */ body { margin:0; padding:0; font-family: Georgia, Times, Times New Roman, sans-serif; font-size: small; text-align:center; color:#29303B; line-height:1.3; background:#483521 url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/bg.gif") repeat; } blockquote { font-style:italic; padding:0 32px; line-height:1.6; margin:0 0 .6em 0; } p {margin:0;padding:0}; abbr, acronym { cursor:help; font-style:normal; } code {font:12px monospace;white-space:normal;color:#666;} hr {display:none;} img {border:0;} /* Link styles */ a:link {color:#473624;text-decoration:underline;} a:visited {color:#716E6C;text-decoration:underline;} a:hover {color:#956839;text-decoration:underline;} a:active {color:#956839;} /* Layout ----------------------------------------------- */ @media all { #wrap { background-color:#473624; border-left:1px solid #332A24; border-right:1px solid #332A24; width:700px; margin:0 auto; padding:8px; text-align:center; } #main-top { width:700px; height:49px; background:#FFF3DB url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/bg_paper_top.jpg") no-repeat top left; margin:0;padding:0; display:block; } #main-bot { width:700px; height:81px; background:#FFF3DB url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/bg_paper_bot.jpg") no-repeat top left; margin:0; padding:0; display:block; } #main-content { width:700px; background:#FFF3DB url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/bg_paper_mid.jpg") repeat-y; margin:0; text-align:left; display:block; } } @media handheld { #wrap { width:90%; } #main-top { width:100%; background:#FFF3DB; } #main-bot { width:100%; background:#FFF3DB; } #main-content { width:100%; background:#FFF3DB; } } #inner-wrap { padding:0 50px; } #blog-header { margin-bottom:12px; } #blog-header h1 { margin:0; padding:0 0 6px 0; font-size:225%; font-weight:normal; color:#612E00; } #blog-header h1 a:link { text-decoration:none; } #blog-header h1 a:visited { text-decoration:none; } #blog-header h1 a:hover { border:0; text-decoration:none; } #blog-header p { margin:0; padding:0; font-style:italic; font-size:94%; line-height:1.5em; } div.clearer { clear:left; line-height:0; height:10px; margin-bottom:12px; _margin-top:-4px; /* IE Windows target */ background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/divider.gif") no-repeat bottom left; } @media all { #main { width:430px; float:right; padding:8px 0; margin:0; } #sidebar { width:150px; float:left; padding:8px 0; margin:0; } } @media handheld { #main { width:100%; float:none; } #sidebar { width:100%; float:none; } } #footer { clear:both; background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/divider.gif") no-repeat top left; padding-top:10px; _padding-top:6px; /* IE Windows target */ } #footer p { line-height:1.5em; font-family:Verdana, sans-serif; font-size:75%; } /* Typography :: Main entry ----------------------------------------------- */ h2.date-header { font-weight:normal; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.1em; font-size:90%; margin:0; padding:0; } .post { margin:8px 0 24px 0; line-height:1.5em; } h3.post-title { font-weight:normal; font-size:140%; color:#1B0431; margin:0; padding:0; } .post-body p { margin:0 0 .6em 0; } .post-footer { font-family:Verdana, sans-serif; color:#211104; font-size:74%; border-top:1px solid #BFB186; padding-top:6px; } .post ul { margin:0; padding:0; } .post li { line-height:1.5em; list-style:none; background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/list_icon.gif") no-repeat 0px .3em; vertical-align:top; padding: 0 0 .6em 17px; margin:0; } /* Typography :: Sidebar ----------------------------------------------- */ h2.sidebar-title { font-weight:normal; font-size:120%; margin:0; padding:0; color:#211104; } h2.sidebar-title img { margin-bottom:-4px; } #sidebar ul { font-family:Verdana, sans-serif; font-size:86%; margin:6px 0 12px 0; padding:0; } #sidebar ul li { list-style: none; padding-bottom:6px; margin:0; } #sidebar p { font-family:Verdana,sans-serif; font-size:86%; margin:0 0 .6em 0; } /* Comments ----------------------------------------------- */ #comments {} #comments h4 { font-weight:normal; font-size:120%; color:#29303B; margin:0; padding:0; } #comments-block { line-height:1.5em; } .comment-poster { background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/list_icon.gif") no-repeat 2px .35em; margin:.5em 0 0; padding:0 0 0 20px; font-weight:bold; } .comment-body { margin:0; padding:0 0 0 20px; } .comment-body p { font-size:100%; margin:0 0 .2em 0; } .comment-timestamp { font-family:Verdana, sans-serif; color:#29303B; font-size:74%; margin:0 0 10px; padding:0 0 .75em 20px; } .comment-timestamp a:link { color:#473624; text-decoration:underline; } .comment-timestamp a:visited { color:#716E6C; text-decoration:underline; } .comment-timestamp a:hover { color:#956839; text-decoration:underline; } .comment-timestamp a:active { color:#956839; text-decoration:none; } .deleted-comment { font-style:italic; color:gray; } .paging-control-container { float: right; margin: 0px 6px 0px 0px; font-size: 80%; } .unneeded-paging-control { visibility: hidden; } /* Profile ----------------------------------------------- */ #profile-container { margin-top:12px; padding-top:12px; height:auto; background:url("http://www.blogblog.com/scribe/divider.gif") no-repeat top left; } .profile-datablock { margin:0 0 4px 0; } .profile-data { display:inline; margin:0; padding:0 8px 0 0; text-transform:uppercase; letter-spacing:.1em; font-size:90%; color:#211104; } .profile-img {display:inline;} .profile-img img { float:left; margin:0 8px 0 0; border:1px solid #A2907D; padding:2px; } .profile-textblock { font-family:Verdana, sans-serif;font-size:86%;margin:0;padding:0; } .profile-link { margin-top:5px; font-family:Verdana,sans-serif; font-size:86%; } /* Post photos ----------------------------------------------- */ img.post-photo { border:1px solid #A2907D; padding:4px; } /* Feeds ----------------------------------------------- */ #blogfeeds { } #postfeeds { padding:0 0 12px 20px; }

Anne R. Allen's Blog


My Photo

Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."

Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, July 26, 2015

SPEED KILLS...OR DOES IT? How to Write Fast(er) without Going Bonkers

by Ruth Harris

As the Romans said (and the Olympics borrowed for its motto): Citius, Altius, Fortius. Or, as we say: "Faster, Higher, Stronger."

Sometimes publishing seems to be an Olympic event or at least it feels that way.

Vroom. Vroom. Everyone wants to write faster. To publish more books. To keep up with/get ahead of the competition. To be a Jackie Stewart of the keyboard. A Dale Earnhardt of word count.

But, hang on, you might say. It's not a sprint. It's a marathon and marathons take time.

Or, you might have other objections:

1) I care about my work and I care about my readers. I want to share my best possible efforts and "the best" doesn't come easily or quickly.

You're right, but what we're talking about here is getting a draft written fast, not about the finished product.

2) I don't want to publish any book before it's ready and editing and revising take time.

See above.

3) I've taken part in NaNoWriMo so I can show you proof positive that anything I write fast is garbage.

So what? No one except you ever has to see it. Ever hear of that amazing process known as "fixing it later?"

4) If I write fast, won't I add to the "tsunami of crap?"
Yes, of course, you certainly can, but "crap," like beauty, lies in the eye of the beholder. Lots of people who write what you or I or Maxwell Perkins might consider crap are enjoying writing it, publishing it, making readers happy and making money in the process.

In addition, allow me to remind you that writing slowly and agonizingly can also result in crap. Pretentious crap. Boring crap. Unreadable crap.

Besides, there are all the obvious upsides to writing fast.

  • Your productivity soars. Where there were two books, there are now four. Duh.
  • You get into the zone, that magic place where writing goes so effortlessly you don’t know where the twists, turns and brilliant dialogue is coming from.
  • You outrun the inner scold, that mahatma of negativity that rains on your parade and tells you you're not good enough, not talented enough, that you're a phony and a faker.
  • You don't give yourself time to censor or second-guess yourself.
  • You avoid wasting time by obsessing over whether your hero should be blond, brunette or a power-baldy à la Bruce Willis. You can always figure out the details later and, more often than not, as the character engages and develops, hair color (or lack of hair) will become obvious.
  • Writing fast increases your chances of gaining access to your sub-conscious or what Stephen King calls "the boys downstairs." Those "boys"—or girls if you're of the female persuasion—are the source of creativity. They are the ones who come up with the unexpected (even to the writer!) plot twist and dazzling solution to a problem you thought unsolvable.
  • Watching the words and the pages pile up, you give yourself the gift of a sense of accomplishment. Where there was nothing, there is now something and the fact that there's "something" where once there was nothing builds confidence.
  • Writing fast frees you from the endless, soul-numbing editing-revising trap.
  • Last of all, writing fast is a sensible approach in these days of self-publishing because new books help sell old books. Just ask Joe Konrath or Dean Wesley Smith who writes about writing at pulp speed.

Before we get into (sane) ways to increase your speed, it's important to understand why you aren't writing as productively as you'd like to.

1) Are you really slow or are you yourself putting the brakes on? 

Are you slowing yourself down by listening to the no voices in your head? That prune-faced seventh grade teacher? That parent for whom nothing was ever good enough?

Psychologist Leslie Becker-Phelps offers a practical approach to deflecting self-criticism based on cognitive behavioral therapy. She tells how to turn self-criticism into compassionate self-awareness that will help free you from the trap you create for yourself.

2) Do you allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good?

Do you plod along, spending hours searching for the "perfect" word or trying to write the "perfect" sentence, paragraph, first sentence, last sentence? Are you getting nowhere? And not fast?

This thorough guide explains the roots of perfectionism and lays out a concrete guide toward taming the runaway perfectionist that's getting in your way.

Just remember: your book has to be good. It doesn't have to be perfect. In fact, it can’t be perfect because nothing is perfect or even can be. Fact of life, just like the birds and bees, (but not as much fun).

3) ID your working style: steady, spurt, sprint.

  • Sprinters can't (and shouldn't) expect to keep up a killer place all day long. Sprints are short races for a reason. No one can go full steam ahead hour after hour after hour.
  • Spurt workers tend to write in extremely productive bursts. They also need a few days off to regroup and catch up with themselves between intense writing sessions.
  • Steady writers work at an even pace. A hundred words a day or a thousand words a day every day, those words add up.
Once you ID your working style, you will have an idea of how many words/how much speed you should realistically expect from yourself but, before you start, you need to have some idea of what you're going to write.

4) Face to face with the “O” word.

No way to escape it, but if you want to write fast you have to Do It. You know exactly what I mean, it’s the writer's version of The Big O. Outline.

In order to write fast, even pantsers need a road map. An outline does not have to be that godawful clunker from grade school with Roman numerals and tiered indents.

An outline can be as simple as a hand-written list or a scribbled synopsis. Or it can be a version of any one or more of the following ways of getting your ideas down and wrangling them into some kind of usable shape:

  • A logline or one of its relatives. Anne's tips on writing the dreaded synopsis...and its little friends: the hook, logline, and pitch will start you off on the right track.
  • The elevator pitch. Author Kayelle Allen offers a fill-in-the-blanks template.
  • The blurb you write before you write the book. Joanna Penn's tips on how to write a back cover blurb are practical and inspiring.
  • A genre cheat sheet so you know what your readers expect and can make sure to keep on track.
  • Here are 6 different outline templates you can apply to romance, scifi, fantasy, literary fiction and any other genre you can think of.
  • Libbie Hawker's popular guide to outlining for pantsers: Take Off Your Pants. Libby's outlining technique applies to any genre and will help you improve your writing speed.
  • Bestselling author of the Costa series, David Hewson explains his method of outlining novel-length fiction and tells how he brainstorms story and storyline possibilities.
  • Scapple (Mac only. $14.99 with FREE trial) is a simple app perfect for brainstorming and making connections between any or all of the kinds of ideas (plot, character, setting, incident) you will need to write a book. If you've ever scribbled down ideas all over a piece of paper and drawn lines between related thoughts, then you already know what Scapple does.
  • How to Write a Book in Three Days: Lessons from sword-and-sorcery master, Michael Moorcock, is inspiring and practical.
  • Rachel Aaron's How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day is another source of inspiration and down-to-earth advice.
  • 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter has helped many writers up their speed. The author, Chris Fox, has also created an app (Mac only) to accompany the book.
  • Roni Loren always thought of herself as a Slow Writer but deadlines compelled her to change her ways. She was surprised by the impressive increase in her speed and blogged about what she learned here.

Now that you're feeling inspired and have prepared yourself to write, it’s time to start.

  • Coffee (or Red Bull) works for some. Loud music for others. Vivaldi's The Seasons for still others.
  • An external deadline can help: a contract (if only with yourself) or even a promise to someone else—including the dog who is in need of a walk.
  • Setting a word target, a time target, a scene target adds focus in the form of an achievable goal. 
  • Do you respond better to the kiss or the whip? If the first, promise yourself a Dove Bar at the end of your just-get-it-down writing session. If the whip, then no dessert for you tonight unless you get your quota filled! 
  • Shut the door, turn off the phone, quash the internet, go to full-screen mode, do whatever you have to do to get the job done. Adapt Nora Roberts' approach: you will permit interruptions only in the case of “blood or fire.”

In your new world of Writing Fast, there are a number of possible outcomes:

  • Might be much better than you think and just needs a light edit. Yay! Treasure the moment because you get to feel you're better than you think and that faster doesn't mean crappier.
  • Might be pretty good but needs a careful edit. OK, editing is part of the job of being a writer so get on with it.
  • Might be dull, drab and needs major, butt-in-chair revision. That’s OK, too, because revision is also part of the job.
  • The aaargh! draft: So what you wrote is real crapola and needs a four-corners rewrite? Don’t let that get you down and don’t forget: It ain’t the writing it’s the rewriting. Professionals know it and the aaargh! draft is the perfect case in point.
  • Even worse than the aaargh draft is draft so putrid it threatens the integrity of the time-space continuum. We've all been there, done that and it's why keyboards come with delete buttons. Just because you wrote it doesn’t mean you have to publish it or even that anyone else has to see it. See if there's anything you can learn (or steal), then trash the d*mn thing and move on.
  • Saving best for last: OMG! Did I write that? It's just about the best feeling a writer can have and, when you write fast, you outrun your insecurities and second guesses, your tendency to "fix" and fiddle, you're also raising the odds of the OMG!-Did-I-write-that? outcome.

Now that you are writing fast(er) and at a speed that feels sane to you, stand up and take a bow.

As the Romans used to say: Accipe rosas, relinque spinas.

Accept the roses, leave the thorns.

What about you Scriveners? Are you a fast writer like Ruth, or are you a sloooooow writer like me (Anne)? Ruth wrote this post partly to help me with my sluggish writing skills. Do you find you can write faster with an outline of sorts? Or are you like me and write a careful outline and then completely ignore it? Have you tried any of these tips to get you up to speed?  


We have two FREE books to offer you this week!

Ruth Harris's New York Times bestseller Love and Money is FREE!

Amazon US, Amazon UK,
 Nook, Kobo, iBooksGoogle Play.

"Richly plotted and racing to a shocking climax, this glittering novel is first-class entertainment." --New York Times 

"Sophisticated and entertaining. I couldn't stop reading." --Rona Jaffe, author of The Best Of Everything

Also FREE: Michael Harris's Gripping Memoir

Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay

Catch-22 with radiation! Area 51 meets Dr. Strangelove!

"A gripping memoir leavened by humor, loyalty and pride of accomplishment. A tribute to the resilience, courage and patriotism of the American soldier." —Henry Kissinger


BARTLEBY SNOPES CONTEST   $10 FOR UNLIMITED ENTRIES. Compose a short story entirely of dialogue. Must be under 2,000 words. Your entry cannot use any narration (this includes tag lines such as he said, she said, etc.). These are the only rules. 5 finalists will also appear in Issue 15 of the magazine. Last year they awarded $2,380 in prize money. Deadline September 15.

Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers  Entry Fee $15. A prize of $1,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of the prize issue is given quarterly for a short story by a writer whose fiction has not been published in a print publication with a circulation over 5,000. Using the online submission system, submit a story of 1,200 to 12,000 words. Deadline August 31. 

Creative Nonfiction magazine is seeking new essays for an upcoming issue dedicated to MARRIAGE. TRUE STORIES about marriage from any POV: happy spouses, ex-fiancees, wedding planners, divorce attorneys, whoever. Up to 4000 words. $20 Entry fee. $1000 first prize. Deadline: August 31. 

CRAZYHORSE SHORT-SHORT FICTION AWARD $15 Entry fee.  $1,000 and publication. Three runners-up. All entries considered for publication. Submit one to three short-shorts of up to 500 words each. Deadline July 31.

DIABOLICAL PLOTS  NO FEE. A new online journal that publishes original fiction, one story per month. Genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror (everything must have speculative element, even horror). 2000 word limit. Pays .06 cents/word. Deadline July 31.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

Contrary to popular belief, a "fast" draft does not need to be sloppy. That's very controllable by the writer. Sometimes it seems like writers treat first drafts as something to get out of the way so they can get to the revision, and they have no idea they are actually making more work for themselves.

I do a clean draft when I write. I move around all over in the file in creative way (DWS calls it cycling; I just call it moving around). I go back and add a bit of foreshadowing, a new scene, fix typos. What I don't do is tweak sentences. Unless I discover a sentence that does not make sense, the sentences that came out originally stand as is. By the time I get through, I don't spend much time on the second draft.

I never, never, never say, "I'll leave for the revision." I did that on a past project, and I can tell you: It made a lot more work for me than if I'd stopped to think about what I needed first. I'm a pantser. I don't outline. I don't know what's going to happen next. So if there's a hole in the story because I blew it off because it was hard, that ripples through everything I wrote that follows--and all of that would need to be fixed. Much easier to fix during the creation process.

July 26, 2015 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger CS Perryess said...

Great post Ruth,
I live soundly in the Steady Vivaldi Pantser Camp, which I suppose makes me a SVPC. Wouldn't it be fascinating if someone came up with a Meyers-Briggs instrument specific to writers? We'd meet at conferences & say, "Yeah, I'm an SVPC INFJ, how about you?"

July 26, 2015 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow, excellent tips and ideas.
I can see I am a steady writer. I do what it takes to finish a first draft at an even pace. And I totally agree that going fast keeps you from second guessing. You don't have time to stop and think about anything but writing.

July 26, 2015 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Linda—Thanks for sharing the details of your work process. Interesting and very helpful!

July 26, 2015 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

CS—Love it! :-)

July 26, 2015 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Alex—Thanks! I think it really helps to know what your writing style is. That way you can set—and meet—realistic goals.

July 26, 2015 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Leanne Dyck said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

July 26, 2015 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Phyllis Humphrey said...

Ruth: Thanks for all these good ideas. I have Rachel Aarons book and found it really helpful. But then, I've always been an Outline person.

July 26, 2015 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

A question for you: Why do you assume pantsers can't write fast unless they have an outline?

July 26, 2015 at 11:46 AM  
OpenID fornow said...

The Becker-Phelps link has a bunch of extra junk in front of the link. Here it is directly:


July 26, 2015 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Linda—I’m a pantser and assume no such thing. What I do say is that even pantsers need a road map of some kind. That road map can take any number of forms some which I enumerate and others of which each writer will devise for him/herself. That map doesn’t even have to be written down but writing with no idea in mind is just gibberish.

July 26, 2015 at 12:40 PM  
OpenID fornow said...

(laughs) red bull or coffee? That would be a bad idea here.
For me, quiet and distraction-free. And a big glass of water.

July 26, 2015 at 12:42 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Phyllis—Thanks! Rachel Aarons’ book has helped many writers. The process is so individual, we each have to find what works best for us. I am always interested in how, exactly, other writers approach their work and in finding other ideas I can incorporate into my own process.

July 26, 2015 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Thank you!

July 26, 2015 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

David—quiet and distraction-free for me, too but hold the water. I get up and go into the kitchen for that. :-)

July 26, 2015 at 12:47 PM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

I hate to say it, but it comes across as telling pantsers to outline (especially when you started with the O word in the heading). I did a book for pantsers because I was frustrated with only getting told things like "have a road map," "know your ending," and "know your plot points"--and these were all things that were the worst things possible for me. They added a structure on top of what was already naturally developing in the story, and instead of helping, twisted it into a horrible mess. I'd been published, and yet, I had beta readers who thought I couldn't write! It was that bad!

Once I tossed any notion of mapping out the story, my muse gave it to me in record time. I only started with a character, a world/setting, and that I wanted monsters. That was it.

July 26, 2015 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Sarah Brentyn said...

I love this! These are reasons I particularly need: You outrun the inner scold / You don't give yourself time to censor or second-guess yourself / You avoid wasting time. Yes. Also, almost this one: Writing fast increases your chances which I read as "Writing fast increases your chakras" because I was on my phone. :-) Great post!

July 26, 2015 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

I fixed it. Thanks, David!

July 26, 2015 at 2:05 PM  
Blogger mindprinter said...

OMG Ruth, this is so good. I do something very much like what you mentioned. A prewriting strategy after much what-ifing. I write down the idea, then go for a logline, then think about my theme and from there try to fill in as much of the three-act paradigm as I can knowing it will change as I write. But I have direction, a throughline and some plot points that may or may not be useful. I won't know till I start to write. I'm so glad you mentioned this in your post because I think a lot of us think outlining is this huge endless thing and puts off the writing process. By having something to go from as I do, I feel more self-confident when I start. It's been working for me for years especially for short stories and novellas. Thank you so much for this post. It always helps to know that I'm on the right track. My best Paul

July 26, 2015 at 2:18 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Sarah—Thank you. And thank you especially for the info about how writing fast can improve your chakras. I completely forgot to include that one. How could I???!!! Smacks head. lol

July 26, 2015 at 2:51 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Paul—Thank you for spelling out your pre-writing strategy—your approach will help a lot of people. And thanks, too, for really “getting” my point about outlines. I know I thought of outlines as those ghastly things we were taught in school until it—finally—dawned on me that I needed to expand the definition of outline to include any kind of list/map/paragraph that would help keep me oriented. It’s also crucial to realize that outlines are destined to be thrown away—the “outline” is just a kind of writer’s GPS.

July 26, 2015 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

I'm a pantster as well, and I have to agree with Linda Maye (above). If I try and write an outline, my work becomes an unholy mess. My characters become hollow and my plot lines fall apart. Although, I do create a semi outline/synopsis about 2/3 finished so I can see if my plots will end up at the end where I want them.

I think too, once you've been writing long enough, you tend to develop your own speed and style. I've been at it for ten years and I can generally manage between 3-5 k per four hour session. (I have two 4 hour sessions per day morning and after supper). A 10k day for me isn't as unheard of for me as it used to be. However, honestly, those days are really rare.

Also, I tend to review and edit at the beginning of each new writing session. it helps me keep the crappy crap from slipping through, and gives me forward motion for the new session.

Yet, any new trick to help me get better/faster/stronger is always helpful. Thanks, Ruth. Always great to hear from you.

July 26, 2015 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger Gail said...

Wonderful tips.

July 26, 2015 at 3:50 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Anne--thanks for sharing the details of your work process--which actually soundquite a lot like mine. As you say, any new tips or tricks are always welcome! :-)

July 26, 2015 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Gail--thank you for your kind words.

July 26, 2015 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger G. B. Miller said...

Medical issues have forced to me write slower than a snail crawls, so to answer your delightful question, no.

July 26, 2015 at 5:50 PM  
Blogger Debby Gies said...

Thanks for all the wonderful tips and links Ruth. When will your book be on sale? I just went there and it wasn't. Thanks.

July 26, 2015 at 5:55 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Debby--Oh, no! I checked the links this morning and they all worked. Which one isn't working for you?

July 26, 2015 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Patricia Lynne said...

I feel like I made a mistake reading this at bedtime after a long day of traveling because now I feel like I should be writing. LOL

I can't decide what speed to write at. I cranked out a 35K novella in a week not long ago, but then another story about the same length took me over a month.

July 26, 2015 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Debby, I just checked those links for Ruth's book and Michael's and the books are free on all the sites we linked to. Do try again!

July 26, 2015 at 8:10 PM  
Blogger Roland D. Yeomans said...

Do you want your heart surgeon to rush through your procedure? Do you want the construction company to rush through the building of your home ("Oh, we'll fix that cracked foundation with bondo -- no problem.")

A rushed draft will probably have design flaws that will be a headache to fix.You know why Taco Bell tears down its restaurants and builds from the foundation up? It's easier than re-designing from the inside.

I know I am in the minority, and I accept the negative feedback I will get from expressing my opinion.

I believe you reinforce negative writing habits when you rush through your book. Hemingway felt that smaller daily out-put produced quality. We all can type words. But do your words sing to the reader? Is your prose evocative enough to stay with the reader long after she closes the book?

Outlines are great. It does give you a skeleton to hang your prose upon. Yet Dean Koontz never uses them. What works for you stay with. So in the same vein, if rushing through your writing works for you, then stay the course. :-)

As always an thought-provoking post.

July 26, 2015 at 8:51 PM  
OpenID Tonya said...

Hi Ruth! With all of the pressure about a daily word count for accountability (for ourselves or to share), I'm relieved to know that I have a particular writing style that's not concerned with that. I'm a spurt writer. I can go for days writing pages and chapters in clusters, tweeting my word count figures with pride, and then shut down. Life can take over or I'll just need a break and my characters need to regroup before they can reveal what happens next. (I'm a pantser too. I jot things down as I think of them - when I'm writing my piece or during the breaks, simply so I don't forget!) Thanks much for this post!

July 27, 2015 at 1:17 AM  
Blogger Claude Forthomme said...

Thanks Ruth for a most inspiring post, it came just when I needed a push (am feeling in a deep hot, summer rut right now!!)

July 27, 2015 at 1:37 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

G.B.—Sorry you are having to deal with medical issues. I hope writing at whatever speed is do-able for you brings you comfort and pleasure. Get well soon!

July 27, 2015 at 4:21 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Debby—Just caught up with you and Anne. Sorry to hear you’ve been having trouble. Hope you’ve been able to get the book(s) you want. Hope, too, that you will enjoy them!

July 27, 2015 at 4:24 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Roland—Thanks for your witty and thoughtful comment! The point of the post to help writers find a speed that works well for each individual’s writing style and permits us to be satisfyingly productive while staying sane.

I personally find conventional outlines counter-productive but I do find that, as I get further into the story, notes/lists of what-not-to-forget are useful. Call them free-form “outlines” or whatever else you want, but they help me. Might do less than nothing for someone else.

PS: I bet some heart surgeons work faster than others. ;-) Probably just comes down to the differences in individual rhythms.

July 27, 2015 at 4:44 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Tonya—Thanks for describing your work style as a spurt writer! I tend to that myself and find ultra productive days are followed by fallow days. We need time to catch up with our own fantastically impressive speed. lol

July 27, 2015 at 4:49 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Claude—Ruts are often followed by spurts of marvelous creativity so just prepare yourself and hang on! :-)

July 27, 2015 at 4:51 AM  
Blogger Adventures in YA Publishing said...

Especially for first drafts (or any drafts where a writer needs to do substantial revision), I think it's very important to get down the ideas as quickly as possible, without censoring or judging any one concepts too harshly. The point of a first draft, or any early draft for that matter, is to get a lot of material to work with. Some of the best ideas definitely come when the mind is free to run wild and forced to make connections between points that may otherwise trip us up. Plus, writing a lot, quickly, can help to really immerse writers in the story worlds they are creating and help them better know the beauty of the world and characters they are creating and where shadows still need to be dispersed.

--Sam Taylor, AYAP Intern

July 27, 2015 at 7:00 AM  
Blogger Maureen C. Berry said...

Wow! Excellent advice and tips! Thanks as always. I find the fill in the blanks synopsis and templates especially useful for new projects.

July 27, 2015 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Patricia—All speeds are good. Stalled is bad. Writers’ mantra. ;-)

July 27, 2015 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Sam—Thank you! You’ve just hit all the main points about the plusses of writing fast. I tend to think of it as the hold-your-nose-and-type draft (especially good if you’re a one-handed typist). ;-)

Editing is a different function and can only come after there’s something, anything!, to edit.

July 27, 2015 at 10:46 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Maureen—Thanks for the kind words! Thanks, too for singling out a specific method you find helpful. It will certainly help point the way for other writers who might be wondering where to start. :-)

July 27, 2015 at 10:48 AM  
OpenID Tonya said...

Exactly! I was also glad to learn this type of process had a name! For a while I'd thought I was alone. :) Thanks again!

July 27, 2015 at 1:25 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

I don't think it had a name. I just reviewed my own work patterns and made up a name for it (us). lol

July 27, 2015 at 2:24 PM  
OpenID coridyson said...

Hi Ruth, thanks for this post. This is validation for me that writing fast is one way of writing. I do feel sometimes in the middle of a good flow of writing my conscious mind is no longer controlling my hands, but instead my unconscious has taken control of my hands and I am simply observing the words as they form on the page. It is amazing to watch and even more amazing to realize those words came from me. Great validation for a relatively new writer. Thanks again.

July 27, 2015 at 3:53 PM  
OpenID tonyarice said...

:-) It's perfect! lol

July 27, 2015 at 3:59 PM  
Blogger Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I used to do skimpy outlines but as I got better at outlining I started writing faster. Now I use a sprint journal and it really helps.
Susan Says

July 27, 2015 at 5:32 PM  
Blogger Linda Maye Adams said...

You might try checking out Dean Wesley Smith's Writing into the Dark, which is written for people who don't outline. One of the most important things for me was seeing that long term pantser writers didn't do all this extra stuff that's commonly recommended for us--it was like "Really? It's that simple?"

July 28, 2015 at 3:30 AM  
Blogger Robin Storey said...

Lots of great tips in this post. I have recently started writing full time and have set myself a goal for each day to keep up my productivity. I have deliberately set my goal at 1000 words, which is quite low but achievable even with unavoidable interruptions. It's the psychology of it - on the days I exceed my goal, which is more often that not, I give myself a high five and it spurs me on to greater heights.

July 28, 2015 at 6:13 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Susan—Thanks for taking the time to comment and for sharing your own experience. Love the idea of a sprint journal and I bet others will, too!

July 28, 2015 at 6:18 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Robin—Thanks for the kind words! I don't think 1000 words is low. 1000 usable/editable words a day add up quickly. Good for you!

July 28, 2015 at 6:33 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Nice post! I have an unfinished book I may try this technique, after I finish a rewrite of a finished book I'm working on. (Well . . . a finished draft of a book.) Love all your links. Thanks so much.

July 28, 2015 at 8:25 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Elizabeth—Thanks for the kind words. Glad to hear the post was of help!

July 28, 2015 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger Barry Knister said...

I wrote a post on this subject, but in terms of different kinds of readers--what I call Savor Readers and Fuel Readers. Writers have to know which group they're writing for: if it's for fuel readers, they better follow your advice.
The piece appeared on July 24 at www.elizabethspanncraig.com

July 28, 2015 at 1:19 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Barry—Thanks for taking the time to comment! Thanks, too, for the link to your article which adds a valuable dimension to the way writers need to understand their readers and their goals.

July 28, 2015 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Barry--Great piece over at Elizabeth's site. As one of those slow readers who likes to "smell the prose roses", I appreciate the acknowledgement. It also may explain why I'm such a slow-poke writer. I do make an outline, but then I totally ignore it, so I'm kind of a pantser who outlines.

July 28, 2015 at 2:09 PM  
Blogger Linda Thorne said...

Some very wise words here and, I've seen this happen so many times - has happened to me too. Thank you.

July 29, 2015 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Linda—Thank you for such kind words!

August 1, 2015 at 6:05 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Hi Everybody--I apologize for an extremely offensive piece of spam that's been on the blog for nearly 7 hours. Normally I would have deleted it first thing this morning, but I had a plumbing emergency--a leak in the irrigation system that was losing $$$ by the minute, since we're in the middle of a drought and water rationing. So I didn't get to the blog until just now.

I hope there is a very dark, very hot place in in Hell reserved for hateful trolls like the one that left that horrible piece of spam.

August 1, 2015 at 1:54 PM  
Blogger Katarina West said...

Loved this post! Thanks, Ruth.

August 2, 2015 at 4:57 AM  
Blogger Ruth Harris said...

Katrina—Thanks for the sweet words! Glad you enjoyed it.

August 2, 2015 at 8:15 AM  

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home