For many of us, things would never get done without deadlines. Procrastination would forever delay the finished product. Deadlines tend to creep up quickly, though, and can add a huge amount of pressure to the writing process. As the cut-off date draws near, you might be looking for ways to speed up the writing process. Here are eight tips that will motivate, guide, and encourage you, ultimately making your writing quicker and more efficient.
1. Always have a notebook handy.
Be prepared to jot notes whenever and wherever inspiration strikes. That way, when it comes time to write you won’t be starting from scratch. Much time can be frittered away while staring at a blank screen, waiting for inspiration to strike.
Use your notebook to keep an outline of your chapters, the story in general, and the synopsis (beginning, middle, and end). This will keep you on track and limit the amount of time wasted on useless tangents.
Once you have your general ideas down on paper, add information about your characters. Fill notebook pages with details about their history, conflicts, and personality. As you consult your notes, new ideas will come.
2. Stay on topic.
If speed is the goal, staying on topic is the way to achieve that goal. Wandering off on tangents that don’t relate to the story will frustrate your readers. But more importantly it will eat up lots of valuable time–time you could have put towards developing the story in the proper direction.
As you consider the overall storyline, think of Edgar Allen Poe’s advice: “A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.” If a sentence isn’t enhancing the primary mood of the story it is a time-wasting tangent.
Likewise, according to Kurt Vonnegut, every sentence must do one of two things: reveal character or advance the action. Make sure each sentence is pulling its weight. After all, a writer could do worse than follow Vonnegut’s advice. With many novels achieving bestseller status, he obviously knew what he was talking about.
3. Make writing a priority.
This is especially important if writing isn’t your full-time job. You can’t totally ignore things like your children, spouse, meals or sleep, but you can prioritize. If you children only nap for two hours a day, how will you spend that precious time, writing or cleaning the bathroom? Which is more important?
4. Carve out a specific time each day to write.
Whether it is two hours or eight, schedule time to write. Determine which time of day you are most focused and least distracted. You might need to get up earlier or stay up later than the rest of the family. You might need to hire a baby-sitter for a few hours. Do whatever you need to do to make sure your scheduled writing time stays sacred. Also, try to schedule a separate time to do research so that your writing time isn’t compromised.
5. Reduce distractions.
Not only do you need to establish a specific time to write, you also need to have a specific location. If you are working at home with other family members in the house, this tip is especially important. Let your loved ones know the space you have chosen is your special place. No matter where it is, let family members know they shouldn’t enter that space while you are working.
You might also want to consider working in a public place. Usually, this idea is vetoed because of the potential distraction of people milling about, but you may find places like coffee shops and public libraries to be far less distracting than a house full of kids.
Once you have entered your work zone, eliminate all other potential distractions. Log off your email. Turn off your cell phone. Put the dog outside. Close the window to shut out the neighbor’s noisy lawn mower.
Even if you are distracted for just a moment, that single interruption can eat up a significant amount of time. Trying to get back in the rhythm of writing could take precious minutes and those minutes can add up.
6. Just type.
Once you are in the zone, go with the flow. Type. Don’t stop to fix typos. Don’t correct spelling. Don’t open an internet browser to check a fact. Stay in the zone.
Consider the advice of John Steinbeck: “Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.”
7. Don’t let temporary writer’s block get the best of you.
Every writer will eventually happen upon a difficult chapter, a pivotal moment, or a fork in the road. When these times come, don’t let the situation get the best of you. Instead of wasting hours debating the possible outcomes, chose an alternate route. Again, consider Mr. Steinbeck’s sound advice: “If a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it–bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.”
8. Don’t let your readers intimidate you.
You can waste a lot of time speculating about what your future readers will think of your literary masterpiece. This is especially dangerous for writers working on their sophomore project. Fear of being a one-hit-wonder can really slow down the writing process. Instead of caving to the pressure, embrace the idea of your readers’ preferences.
John Steinbeck said, “Forget your generalized audience…the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person–a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.” James Patterson echoed John’s thoughts: “I’m always pretending that I’m sitting across from somebody. I’m telling them a story, and I don’t want them to get up until it’s finished.”
In the end, you can use deadlines to improve your writing. Follow these suggestions and you are bound to make the writing process quicker, more efficient and more enjoyable.
This article was written by Aedy, who likes to write on scientific and education related topics. If you need a quick research or thesis writing help, you can always reach him at steve dot aedy @ gmail dot com.