I recently did an interview over at Stephen Campbell’s AuthorBiz podcast (fantastic, must-add for all indie authors!). The most interesting segment of our conversation was about the realities of writing faster—what it actually looked like on a day-to-day basis.
You can listen to the interview here:
If you read Write Better, Faster, you know that the appendix contains a massive 50,000 word diary that I kept during my two-month experiment to make writing a daily habit. In that diary, I detail all my struggles and challenges as I went along.
Several people have commented that I’m “transparent,” or “brave,” or “raw” in the diary—and perhaps I am. But the real reason I’m able to put it all out there with no fear is because all of the challenges I talk about in the diary have been dealt with—in a sense, I’m cured of the original “war on art”-esque problems I had in the past.
Two weeks ago, for example, I wrote 25,000+ words. I spent one day (Tuesday) writing a lot, but the other six days I just tried to get in a bit—3000 to 4000 words or so.
I genuinely felt very little pain doing it—writing comes very naturally to me now. And while you can check out the spreadsheet and see that I start out very slow at the beginning of the week, you can also see that by the end of the week, working on the same draft, I hit a speed of 3,700 words per hour. This was without my walk ‘n talks, just me and my microphone at my desk. No gimmicks involved.
So let me tell you exactly how I write now, and what’s possible for you, should you follow the steps I documented in detail in Write Better, Faster:
I Prioritize Self-Care and My Morning Routine
I have a 2 hour morning routine and not a single minute of it is time poorly spent. Here are several of the things I try to do every morning:
- 20 minutes of movement (using yoga, pilates, stretching, or dance videos on YouTube)
- a long luxurious shower and a bit of dress up (I do a decent outfit, a bit of makeup, and a few jewelry pieces—fast and easy but makes a world of difference when working at home)
- a curious morning walk with my dog, Mia (she leads the way and we explore according to her needs and energy)
- a glass of hot tea or a fruit smoothie (depending on the weather)
- 20-60 minutes of journaling (as an ENTP, I spend a lot of time journaling to deal with my idea overload)
- communal time with my creativity shelf (basically a shelf of books I love most—a history of Lichtenstein, a drawing book, a leather journal of my memories with Patrick, and more)
Although this sounds incredibly self-indulgent, I look at it as an investment in fuel. Back in the day when I was training for a marathon, I would often carb load to prep for a long run. If you intend to hit huge word counts, you must make an investment in yourself and your energy sources.
And because you’re writing faster, you’ll actually have time to indulge and still get thousands of words done in just a few hours a day.
You must take care of the linchpin in your business. If you are an indie, your linchpin is YOU. Self-care is a must!
I Take Infrequent Week-Long Breaks For Outlines, Editing, and/or Publishing
One thing I learned about myself as a burster is that I don’t switch from editing to outlining to drafting very well. Nope, I’m a “power through it” type of drafter.
That means that I need to prep for my writing weeks by having lots of outlines in the bank. I was already doing this somewhat organically, but recently I’ve tried to schedule it—and it’s making a world of difference!
Likewise, once I’m in editing mode I can edit, edit, edit multiple drafts at once to get them to the publish point. But starting a new draft during that time? Nope!
And more recently, I’ve decided to release multiple books on the same day, even if they are in the same “line.” (My three lines are Prose on Fire, Monica Leonelle, and my MR pen name.)
I do this because, even though it’s incredibly inefficient in terms of launch juice, it keeps me from getting too wrapped up in sales and marketing. Promotion can be a creativity killer, as anyone who has launched a book knows! My ideal schedule would be to launch only four times a year, even if I have 15-20 books coming out in a year.
So until I have a huge backlist and can slow down on writing a bit, I don’t think every book needs huge fanfare and I don’t think authors should be pushing something new every single month. I’d rather have a huge burst every once in awhile than little bursts every single month… so this is a new schedule I’m trying just to test it out.
The bonus benefit is that I’ll essentially be using the Liliana Nirvana technique with many of my launches! Lots of cross-promotion… Maybe. We’ll see!
I’m Building a General Promotional Calendar
While I definitely don’t want to be in launch mode on a regular basis, I do like have regular promotions that work for me on a schedule at all times. Most of my email list is automated and it takes very little effort to add content to them on a once-a-month basis. I’m still building out my fiction ones, but my early testing is doing very well.
My email list is basically the source of everything—my content, my onboarding, my review asks, my announcements—everything. That means that all promotions drive people to either the books or the email list or both. That simplifies life greatly and makes it easy to do “a bit every day” when it comes to promotion.
I’m also seeing incredible results with giveaways to bring people onto my list to begin with—once they are there, they follow the natural progression. Soon, I’ll also be turning on ads, which will be an initial investment of time, but which will be pretty simple to maintain on a daily basis. With these efforts, my main focus is how to gamify each element so that people share the content they’re receiving and bring a steady stream of new people into the list. Again, lots of experimenting going on here!
I said this is a post a few weeks ago, but there are a few other traffic sources that I’m hitting hard in the next year and I’m very excited to experiment with them once I’m done with my giveaway and ad experiments. All of it is building slowly, and my goal is to automate absolutely everything possible so that I’m sending a steady stream of readers to my books—without having a lot of upkeep.
Reality: I’m Writing Faster Than Ever
My word count per month has been fairly steady at 50,000 words per month for awhile now. I’m aiming at 100,000 words per month from now on. Writing fast has become one of my superpowers and areas of genius, so I need to milk it a bit more than the average author can.
And unlike in my experiments and diary, I don’t have to drop my life to get it done anymore. I can still watch a lot of television for storytelling research, and even watch it before 5pm. I can still enjoy my engagement to my fiancé and even support his goals to build a product (a product for indie authors—more on this later ;)). I can enjoy my life, sleep in, and spend time on my business, building systems that matter and get results.
Here’s the thing—I genuinely believe that writing faster is a critical skill for any author. While my experience “leveling up” in 2013 was a bit painful, I’ve definitely come out on the other side in a much better place, and much better poised to expand my author career quickly. I think it’s a journey that every author should take because it’s such a game changer to be able to write better, faster, and more.
Write Better, Faster: Now a Book!
There were so many interesting questions in my inbox about this topic that I started writing a follow-up article to this one. That article grew and grew so I decided to make it a book! You can get the book, Write Better, Faster: How To Triple Your Writing Speed and Write More Every Day exclusively on Amazon with three options: purchase, Prime Member borrow, or Kindle Unlimited Member borrow.
Write Better, Faster: How To Triple Your Writing Speed and Write More Every Day goes deeper into the 4-step framework to writing faster: Knowledge, Flow, Training, and Energy, answers tons of questions from readers like yourself, provides a lot more data from my experiments, and even goes through an example of my writing process of Outlines, Beats, Sketches, and Draft. I also talk about my 2-month experiment that helped me establish a daily writing habit and write 50,000 words of high-quality fiction (the same goal as National Novel Writing Month!) two months in a row.
Grab Write Better, Faster here »
Check Out My New Book, Novel Writing Prep!
50,000+ words in 30 days—impossible, right?
Or if it is possible, those words must be total crap—right?
And even if there is some semblance of writing talent in the draft, writing that fast means the plot and characters must make no sense… right?
No. Nope. Wrong!
Yes, you can write 50,000 good words on your novel in as little as a month, as long as you prepare yourself.
Ready to learn how?