It seems to me that some writers can write like the wind, producing two or three books to my one. Some have children, others have full-time jobs, but all have issues that pull them away from the page, yet they are still successful in the field. Perhaps I have only half of the needed talent, while a prolific writer has the whole shebang. I thought this was true once, but not anymore.
It has been said that a successful writer is an organized writer. I consistently have papers waiting to be organized on the top of my desk that are separated into two stacks, one on each side of the computer. After tiring of the mess, I bought a roll top desk to hide it, but every once in awhile I’m overwhelmed by the feeling that I might be missing something important in the pile and straighten it. Certainly, I am not the only writer whose desk is in disarray, many successful authors have an even bigger mess than mine, so I don’t think that by organized a tidy desk is what is meant. If this is true, then in what way does organization count, and does organization bring forth speed in writing?
Whether you write as you go or outline your story every step of the way, you’ll get the story written, and one way can be just as fast as the other. Since the joy of writing only goes so far before it becomes work, you need to know what you are going to write when you sit down. If you aren’t inspired when your butt hits the chair, and you don’t know something of where you are going, you’ll be staring at a blank page. Distractions here we come.
In those early writing years, I thought that I could only write when I was stress-free, because that’s when the inspiration would flow. Then one day a writer told me that the book her fans liked the most was written during a very stressful time in her life. I wish she had added that I would never get any writing done if I waited for a time without stress.
Without inspiration, what is needed is a system. Print off a free monthly calendar online and jot down your plans. Perhaps one page a day to complete your book is reasonable to record, because you can complete 365 pages in a year. Pen in what you will write when you sit down, it doesn’t have to be a complete outline, but enough to keep you going. You have to spend time up front to make it work. That is organization.
I set up a writing schedule while working full-time and it is amazing how much more work I’ve gotten done since. Next, I started to rethink the book-in-a-month challenge, even though I couldn’t write a book in a month, I knew I could get several new pages written. While writing, I didn’t know if I could salvage any of the story, but found much of it usable when I got a chance to go back through.
One hour a night, five days a week is another easy plan to get more writing done. I discovered that if I wrote at least an hour after work each day, I had five hours of typing in and still had the weekend to spend with my family. If I took additional writing time on the weekend all the better, but if not, I still felt like I’d gotten something done and it was relatively easy to do.
Sometimes, to be visible at home, I take my AlphaSmart (that I bought used for fifty dollars) and type near my husband while he’s watching TV. The AS is lightweight, extremely sturdy, smaller than my laptop, and runs forever on a battery. When finished, I plug it into my computer and it sends what I’ve typed into a document. I’ve also used the AS in the community while waiting for appointments, or when I travel, helping me write more than I would have been able to without it. Now that’s another easy to do plan.
Still, I have quite a bit of work to do to keep up to the speed of others. I tell myself I’m not in competition because I’m working full time and that when I retire I will be able to write like the wind, however, the saying is true that if you want something done ask a busy person. In actuality, the answer to writing speed has everything to do with why a writer writes. Many of the fastest writers in history wrote for a reason. To keep poverty at bay, writing was approached like a job, not a hobby. Today, the most prolific writers I know approach their work just like anyone in any other profession; they count on the money to pay the bills. Something (whatever it is) has to drive you to write, to get it done far after the joy of writing has left the room.
In summary, to write like the wind, schedule what you will do each day while still being present for your family, put your butt in the chair, and have a commitment to get it done that will move your writing from a hobby to a serious career.