Monday, May 28, 2007

How to Write Faster

Harlequin is making no bones these days about wanting their writers to write two or three books a year. And frankly, if you want to make a living as a Harlequin writer and you're just starting out - this is pretty much what you need to do if you dream of quitting that day job. So - you have to write fast.

I just finished another book. Trust me - I'm not writing this to brag. I CAN'T BELIEVE IT! There are plenty of problems (thank God for critique groups) but 85% of the work on this book is done. And I started it three months ago. So -- we all need to write fast - I am writing fast - this is what I am doing - I hope it helps.


1. Outline. 5- 10 pages. It will change. But it gets you thinking about where you need all your characters to go -- it gives you guideposts of big scenes that you know you're going to have to write. Most of all - it helps you in Chapter 5 when everything has ground down to a halt. It's a reference point and when you're trying to write fast reference points are very nice to have. I actually take WAY more time at this stage than I do with writing. Makes sense when you think about it.

2. Subplots -- you're going to need them. When things slow down in the main plot and you want to walk away from the computer you throw in your subplot and it not only picks up the slack in your slacking book - it keeps you writing.

3. Get off the FREAKING INTERNET -- never has there been a bigger time suck. Never.

4. Never sit down without knowing what you need to do for that day. You don't want to spend your computer time thinking -- you need to be writing.

5. Only write for an hour - two hours at a time MAX. This is really the longest you can stay on task -- and by you I mean me. But I find after about an hour and a half no matter where I am in the book - how good things are going - I start to drift towards the fridge. Shut down the computer - do something else for at least and hour and then come back to it. It seems counterproductive - but it keeps me fresh, on point, diligent and hungry to write.

6. Forgive yourself the crappy first draft you are going to write. Fixing is for later. Now is for writing. Just get down the bones.

7. Get a critique group because when writing fast you have no real perspective and speaking for myself no idea if what I vomiting on to the screen is working.

There you go. Gotta run.

4 comments:

Christine said...

Awesome advice Molly. I find it's the same thing with Ellora's Cave. Not that they are saying we need to write more, but the fact if I want to even consider quitting my day job I need to be able to produce.

Congratulations on getting another one finished!

Maureen McGowan said...

Great post as usual, Molly. There are at least 2 okay 3 things there that I really need to change for me. First I really do think I need to spend more time on an outline before I dive in. Like you said, doesn't need to be pretty (if you aren't selling on proposal) and it can change drastically when you write... but I'm sure this would help me. Allowing for the crappy first draft is also something I'm not known for. I did it with one book and it really helped. (but I did have a rough outline for that book...) Finally... oh, the internet thing. Signing off right now.

Molly O'Keefe said...

It's wild - I find that writing for fewer hours in the day - these days takes WAY more discipline than writing all day used to take. But it's like taking that terrible super body sculpt class at the gym -- after an hour I'm good for the day.

Hey how about House last night? That's the kind of finale Sinead loves -- and we haven't even talked about LOST!!!! Did you see it? What did you think? WHo was in the coffin?

Sinead M said...

Hey,

Still around.. Molly, great post. And so right. I can get as much done in a tightly focused hour, than a scattered five...
And you are showing us you can write fast and really well with an insanely busy schedule.

I enjoyed House last night. Like the idea of the cottages going their own seperate ways...
I hope they stick by it.

Saw the finale of Lost and loved, loved the flash forward. Clever..

And am watching Heroes right now. That show does some clever, clever things, without explaining too much.
Really interesting..

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