Should You Write Your Story Fast?

Should you write your storyIn our modern world we have short attention spans and little patience. We expect everything to be as quick and instant as the click of a button. The same mind-set is often applied to writing.

Everyone wants to learn how to write faster. After all, the quicker you write your story the quicker you can get published and make money and write more stories. Right?

Um…maybe. Before you jump into NaNaWriMo mode, pause for a moment.

Let’s look at a fundamental truth of writing:

  •  If you spend less time writing your draft you will spend more time editing.
  • If you spend more time writing your draft you will spend less time editing.

When you rush through a draft, sure you got 50k words in a month, but what does the quality of that draft look like? I’m willing to bet pretty craptastic. (All first drafts are craptastic anyways, but if you rush through your writing it will be especially craptastic).

You’re going to have to edit it a ton to get it into decent shape, and editing is a very time-consuming process. You could end up having to edit, for example, 8 or more drafts.

When you slow down, it may take you 5 months to get those 50k words, but the quality of your writing will be much improved (though still admittedly craptastic). This means less time in the editing process—so let’s say for example, you cut those 8 drafts in half to 4.

Whichever you choose, the truth remains the same—it takes time to write and edit a decent novel worthy of publication. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you pound your story out fast it will be ready to publish in its current state. Sometimes faster isn’t always better.

Overall, I think it depends on where you want to spend most of your time, and at what pace you are comfortable writing. Don’t force yourself to write fast if you naturally like to take your time with your writing. I know it’s easy to beat yourself up if you’re a slow writer and bemoan how much faster others are writing their novels.

But remember the tortoise and the hare? Slow and steady. But it’s not even a race, so don’t worry about competing with other writers. Your goal is to finish your novel–the time in which it takes you to do so shouldn’t matter. Go at your own pace without guilt.

And try to enjoy the writing process instead of rushing through it. Allow yourself to be swept away by your story instead of worrying over how many words you’re getting out an hour. Speed doesn’t equal success. But patience, hard work, and perseverance on the other hand…that’s the path to publication.

Do you like to write fast or slow? Have you ever beat yourself up for being a slow writer?  blog signature

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Confessions of a Grammar Nazi: 10 Grammar Pet Peeves

Confessions of a Grammar NaziHappy National Grammar Day!

Does the slaughter of the English language send you into a passionate rage? You’re not alone.

In celebration of Grammar Day, let’s get into the festive spirit by grumping about irksome grammar no-nos that rankle most any writer.

Here are my top 10 grammar pet peeves that will exasperate your inner grammar Nazi.

#1: Your/You’re

Why is this so baffling to people? Your is possessive. You’re is a contraction for you are. As in, if you continue to run amok with your grammar, you’re going to get a beat down from a grammar Natzi.

#2: They’re/Their/There

They’re going to have to take their atrocious grammar over there. Far, far away. Actually, why don’t we just set up a quarantine.

#3: Then/Than

If you say “I’d rather have Boromir take the ring then Frodo” I will cast you into the fires of Mt. Doom.

Not really. But it might cross my mind.

#4: Its/It’s

It’s an apostrophe, not a government conspiracy. Why must you find this so bewildering? It’s= it is, Its= possessive.

#5: Ending a Sentence with ‘at’

This one really grates on my nerves, and unfortunately I live in the south where this runs rampant.

Where you at? Where’s it at? Where did you put my keys at? I don’t know where she’s at.

*cringe* Is it too much to ask to just leave out the last word? Before I go on a grammar-induced rampage. For the sake of your safety and my sanity, just…don’t.

#6: Text Talk

My eyes…are burning.

If I have to decipher your text code that looks like it comes from an alien planet, I’m just going to assume it was written by a less-intelligent life form.

#7: Couldn’t Care Less/Could Care Less

“I could care less about your grammar shenanigans!”

Well thanks, glad to know you don’t care at all. That would be tragic.

#8: Unnecessary Quotation Marks

Umm, I’m sorry but what exactly are you trying to “say” here?

#9: Oxford Comma

If you don’t use the Oxford comma, we can’t be friends.

Just kidding. But I will judge you o.O

#10: Good/Well

And last but not least, “You did good!” *face palm* No, Mom/Dad, I did well. As in, you taught me well. So now I can correct your grammar 😉

What brings out your inner grammar Nazi?

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How to Stop Procrastinating and Become a More Productive Writer

productivityIf you’ve come here in search of some quick fix to solve your productivity woes, this is not the blog post for you.

I’m not going to lie to you–writing is a lot of work. And it’s part of human nature to procrastinate and be lazy. Sometimes, no matter how many awesome ideas you come up with, you just don’t feel like writing them.

The trick isn’t eliminating procrastination from the writer–it’s learning how to overcome it. Which will also take work. But if you’re determined to battle and tame the demon of procrastination, read on, brave writer.

Get It All Out

Let yourself have a moment to get out all your procrastination feels. Complain, stomp you foot, groan and roll around on the floor… Whatever you gotta do. Then take a deep breath and drag your butt over to you computer.

Turn off Your Wi-Fi (And Your Phone)

Of course you’ll write on your story…after you check Twitter ten times (hashtag amwriting, hashtag justkidding), browse pics of hot dudes reading on Instagram (for research, of course), and pin pictures of recipes you’ll never make on Pinterest.

The fewer temptations around to distract yourself with, the more you can get done. Switch off the wi-fi on your computer and turn off your phone too for good measure.

Sure it’s easy to turn either back on…but hopefully the mild annoyance will be enough to discourage you. Writers can be lazy creatures, after all 😉

Open the Doc–Just Do It!!!

Half the battle is just opening the Word document with your story. Do it fast. Like ripping off a band aid. Just one little click. DO IT.

Was that so bad?

Of course it was. But you did it.

Develop a Routine

Pick a time where you can sit down and write. It doesn’t matter when, choose a time when you write best. Early morning, afternoon, evening… You don’t have to pick a specific time either, unless that helps.

For me, I tend to write in the evening after dinner, but I don’t carve out a specific time table because I feel it’s too restrictive. Sometimes I may write from 4pm-8pm, 6pm-12am, 5pm-6pm, and everything in-between. Having flexibility is something I need. But I know that evenings are my writing time.

Whether your writing time needs to be more structured or flexible, do whatever works for you. But make sure you pick something and stick to it. You must develop a habit out of repetition.

Set Goals

Know what you want to accomplish, and set a manageable goal for yourself. This can be especially motivating if you’re competitive. Plus, it’s helpful to feel a sense of purpose–that you’re working towards something.

Right now, my overall goal is to finish the first draft of my novel by April so I can enter a Twitter pitch party in June. My daily goal is to write 1,300 words. Whenever I’m feeling unmotivated I remind myself of my goal and it helps me to overcome the writer blahs.

Find an Accountability Partner

Pair up with a friend and tell them your writing goal. Agree to check in with that person every day and tell them your word count so they can keep you accountable. The dread of having to tell someone you didn’t meet your daily goal can be a good boost of motivation to get writing.

Your partner should not just get on you when you’re slacking off, but also encourage you to keep going when you’re having a tough time.

Write in the Morning

There are fewer distractions early in the morning since social media is a dead zone at this time. Writing in the morning can also give you more time in your day if you wake up and get your writing accomplished right off the bat. Try it and see if it works for you.

Write First, Edit Later

Write and don’t look back. Word vomit all over the pages.

Yes, your first draft is going to be awful and it’s hard to resist the temptation to go back and fix things. But remember: you can always polish sloppy pages, but you can’t fix ones that don’t exist.

Don’t interrupt your flow. Accept that your first draft will be crap and power through.

Try Sprints

A writing “sprint” is when you write as much as you can in 30min. Then you take a break (I usually do 10min), and go at it again. Repeat as many times as you can.

I’ve tried this recently and found it works really well for me. I wrote about 1,800 words in a 1 1/2 hour sprint session (so three rounds of 30min). I average 1k an hour, so it wasn’t too shabby!

You can also find sprinting buddies on Twitter and compete to see who can get the highest word count. Friendly competition makes it fun and it’s good motivation! Or, writing fast may not be for you, and that’s fine–there’s no shame in taking your time.

Make a Visual

Make yourself a little poster where you can track your word count and watch yourself get closer to your goal.

Or, buy a bag of your favorite candy and a jar. Every time you write 1,000 words, put a piece of candy in the jar. When you reach your goal, you get the candy. How’s that for motivation? 😉

Bribe Yourself

If all else fails, bribe yourself. Write up a little contract saying you will reward yourself with chocolate, Netflix, a nap–whatever–once you reach X number of words for the day, and sign it.

Silly? Maybe. But when you feel like breaking your deal with yourself, it will serve as a visual reminder. And it will also make you feel like a complete nutter 😀

Sometimes You Can’t–And that’s Okay

While it is good to try to write every day, sometimes you can’t. Stuff comes up. Life happens. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or two. Just get back on the horse!

Hopefully you’ll find something useful here that works for you…and you won’t be too lazy to try it out 😉 Writing is literally a mental battle and hard work. There are no short cuts or magic tricks. If you are serious about writing, you must learn to make it part of your lifestyle.

And stay on guard against procrastination!

How do you overcome procrastination? Do you have any tricks that make you more productive?

Like what you read? Know someone who might enjoy it? Please share it with other writers! Thank you for reading!

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What to do When You Hate Your Writing

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You’ve probably realized that some days writing becomes and intense mental battle that makes you feel like Smeagol/Gollum. Which makes you question your sanity (Don’t call us crazy, precious!). It goes a little something like this:

rapunzel

Sound familiar? We’ve all been there.–it’s  a struggle all writers face.

Writing is a frustrating process because your story often sounds better in your heads, and the words you use to try to capture it on paper doesn’t quite do it justice. The struggle is real. But don’t despair–it’s normal to hate your work.

Some days you may feel so disgusted with your writing that you will be tempted to give up.  You may feel like you can’t write at all, that you’ll never be any good, and you’re just wasting your time.

“Wait, what?” you say.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: hating your writing is a good thing!

At this point you’re probably thinking I’m few bolts short of a sonic screwdriver, but hear me out.  Hating your writing shows that you can view your work critically, which is an important skill for a writer. If you are in love with your writing you will never see its flaws and never strive for improvement.  What is it they say about love being blind?

The trick is to force yourself to keep writing through your self-doubt even when you feel like every word is total crap (And chances are it’s not as craptastic as you think). Being able to push through and continue to produce stories will help you build confidence in your abilities.

Never be ashamed of anything you write. It is evidence that you are trying, that you are practicing and learning. Even if it’s awful, it will never be a waste of time because you are gaining experience as an artist. You are figuring out what works and what doesn’t. You are learning a craft, and it will take time to produce a masterpiece.

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Advice from the Quills:

Every writer—even the greats like Tolkien and J.K. Rowling—has hated their writing at some point. Perseverance is what separates writers from published authors.

The fact is, you are going to write a lot of crap. But writing the crap will give you the experience you need to start writing amazing stories—so keep going and never give up!

What makes you keep going when you hate your writing?

Like what you read? Know someone who might enjoy it? Please share it with other writers! Thank you for reading!

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7 Things No One Tells You About Writing a Novel

blogpost1 finDo you have a crazy-awesome idea you want to turn into a novel? Brilliant!

But before you begin, there are some dark secrets about writing you need to know. If you think writing a novel will be an effortless pouring of inspiration onto the page leading to a NYT best-seller and a six-figure publishing deal, you may want to hit pause.

Consider the following before you start joyously tippity-tapping away at the keyboard.

#1: It’s a lot of hard work

Okay I lied, you’ve probably heard this one already. But have you heard it from Ernest Hemingway?

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed.

Sounds delightful, yes? Not only is the act of writing a labor in and of itself, but it is also mental and emotional work–some days it will drain you.

#2: It’s scary

When you write, you bare your soul. You make your innermost thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and feelings vulnerable to critique by the world. There is an underlying fear of failure and rejection with every word you type. Writing is an act of courage.

#3: You will have to make sacrifices

Writing a novel will suck up your time like a dementor sucks up happiness. Do you ever find you don’t have enough time to write? A serious writer has to make time, and this means making sacrifices. To make time to write I have sometimes sacrificed sleep, outings with friends, and movie nights.

#4: You must overcome the voice that says, “No one will want to read this.”

You know what I’m talking about. That little demon sitting on your shoulder, niggling in your ear. Yeah, that guy. He’ll tell you that your work is worthless and you’re wasting your time, but you have to learn to tell him to shut up. Basically, writing is an intense mental battle that will make you feel like a schizophrenic.

#5: Sometimes you will hate your writing—but that’s normal

Yep, you read that right. Every writer hates their writing. It’s healthy. So go ahead, hate away. It shows you are able to view your work critically, which is an important skill. Just don’t take your hatred to the extreme like the French writer Kafka, who asked his friend to destroy all of his fiction upon his death. Avoid melodramatics.

#6: You can’t wait for inspiration to write

That image of the writer enraptured by inspiration and pouring a brilliant novel onto the page with ease is a myth. Inspiration comes and goes in spurts. Writer’s block is the notorious beast that separates the wanna-be’s from the real writers. You must learn to slay it.

#7: You will spend most of your time editing

Your story isn’t finished once you type “the end.” In fact, that was just the beginning. You will spend more time editing (and re-editing) your novel than you did actually writing it. By the time you’re finished, the very sight of your novel will probably give you the strong urge to vomit. Or slam your head against a wall. Editing is a necessary evil.

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Advice from the Quills:

Writing fiction is an art form that takes time, dedication, and hard work to master–you won’t write a best-seller overnight.

If none of these dirty little secrets deter you, congrats! You have the mettle of a true writer. Ready to start on that novel? Next time, we’ll dig into creating life-like characters.

Like what you read? Know someone who might enjoy it? Please share it with other writers! Thank you for reading!

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