National Novel Writing Month is in full swing! Here at Kobo Writing Life, we have been hosting weekly writing sprints for one hour at a time so everyone at Kobo who is participating this year can get closer and closer to that coveted word count. Writing sprints are just one of the many effective ways to help you write quickly, and, ultimately, write more.
In this article, we want to highlight some tips and tricks to help you write faster and maybe even write more. Remember, however, that writing ANYTHING is better than nothing at all. If you can get ten thousand words down in a day, amazing! If you can barely make it to one hundred, that’s okay, too. It all adds up and counts towards that fifty-thousand-word goal.
Above all else, remember: writing anything at all is the goal! Even if you end up throwing a whole page, chapter, or the entire draft away at the end of November, you still exercised your writing muscles. Or, in other words, you practiced, built up endurance, and most likely came up with a new idea or two. Like any other skill, practice makes perfect.
Our advice for when you want to write faster or want to write more:
Set up a writing sprint – for those who aren’t familiar, a writing sprint is a short period of time where you write as much as possible and stop to take a break after the time is up – even if you are halfway through a sentence! Five-, ten-, and fifteen-minute sprints at least once a day are great ways to practice writing quickly and efficiently. You’ll be surprised by how many words you can write in such a (seemingly) short period of time.
These sprints are also great to schedule for when you don’t have much time in a day. Taking five to fifteen minutes before work, on a break, or whenever you find yourself with some downtime is an amazing way to build a writing habit and add to your wordcount.
Schedule time to write – it’s important to set a time to write every day. Unlike sprinting, which can be inserted into your schedule whenever it suits you, it’s best to schedule a longer stretch of time – ideally at least an hour – into your day. If you work a 9-5 job, try waking up an hour earlier (if you’re a morning person already) or book some time in the evening to write, perhaps right after dinner. It’s important to stick to that scheduled time for consistency’s sake, and to get into the habit of writing every day – which will ultimately allow you to write faster and more efficiently.
If you work part-time or writing is your full-time job, all the better! You can schedule in your writing period whenever you like, or even make it longer. Perhaps two hours in one sitting, or an hour twice a day, or even three or four hours on weekends if you’re feeling up to it.
No matter how you schedule, just make sure you schedule at all!
Try writing via dictation – if you don’t already use a form of speech-to-text software, be warned: there can be a bit of a learning curve. But it doesn’t hurt to try it out! Many authors find that they can write better and faster using dictation – with some authors writing as many as ten thousand words a day!
Many computers and laptops come with built-in speech-to-text software that you can utilize, and there are several free or inexpensive options out there as well. Do some research and try one out sprint-style to see how you do. Maybe dictation will become your primary way of writing!
Write in bullet point form – who said full sentences are always necessary? If you ever feel stuck and can’t bring yourself to form a new sentence, write out your ideas in bullet points. These still count towards that total number of words and will be helpful for when you are working on your draft later.
Plus, writing in bullet point form can help you organize what is going to happen in that chapter, scene, or section of the book. You can easily keep up with the action without having to agonize over getting a full sentence out. Combine your regular writing with this bullet point technique whenever you’re struggling to get past a certain point in your story. Trust me – it’s not worth losing your momentum or forgetting an excellent idea simply because you got stuck on a single sentence!
Don’t write a novel – write something else – anything goes during National Novel Writing Month, despite the name! You can write a memoir, a screenplay, a collection of poetry – as long as you hit that fifty-thousand-word mark, you’ve made it. If you find yourself struggling to write a novel, switch gears and turn it into something else. That might help you unlock your creative flow and get you excited about what this new format may be.
Likewise, you may also want to use NaNoWriMo to complete several smaller projects. Working on short stories? Want to write a novella and some personal essays? Mix and match and add it all up! It’s totally fine to experiment with what you’re working on and how often, and some writers find it helpful to have more than on project on the go.
We hope these tips are helpful and can be implemented into your writing routine this month – or every month, if you find them working for you! As always, happy writing and good luck with NaNoWriMo 2022!