LUCY BURDETTE: Today's guest was another presenter I met at the Connecticut Fiction Fest. Once he explained how he increased his productivity to 10,000 words per week, I was hooked. And I thought you all would be interested in his common sense ideas and homework too. Help us Peter!
PETER ANDREWS: There are many reasons why people want to increase their productivity. Bloggers may want to post frequently enough to attract an audience. Journalists may need to deliver copy on deadline. Genre novelists may need to produce enough to keep editors and agents happy. Academics may be facing “publish or perish.”
Really, anyone can write quickly. The trick is to write more productively. You don’t want to simply put more words on paper. You want to get more of your manuscript done for each hour of work.
I began to learn how to write more quickly when I took a job as a radio producer. I was responsible for three radio programs every week. It was like march or die for writers. A year into that job, I found that I was writing three times faster than I had been, and I’ve continued to look for ways to become more productive since.
Here are a few things I focus on, along with exercises that can help you up your productivity:
Obstacles and Excuses Know what stops you from writing or cuts into your efficiency.
Try this at home: Make a list of ten or more things that get in the way and brainstorm solutions. When something new gets in the way, add it to your list and find solutions for it. When a solution doesn’t work, come up with a new one.
Prep Make notes in full sentences. Add references, as appropriate. Set up a productivity/process journal. Decide what you will write the day before. Choose your audience. Reduce distractions.
Try this at home: Set a timer for 10 minutes and write (in full sentences, but without making any corrections) why being more productive is critical for you and what success will be for you as a writer. Count your words.
Draft Give yourself permission to write lousy. Write (or complete) a sentence immediately. Keep writing. Avoid rewriting, editing, or even reading what you’ve written until you hit your word count.
Try this at home: Set a timer for 10 minutes. Write a letter to a friend about what you have learned about Fast Writing.
Rewriting Put aside a set amount of time. Set a goal and choose your documented rewriting process the day before. Either do what you promised the day before or try something new and document the results.
Try this at home: Document a process that you use (for restructuring, editing, rewording, proofing, etc.) in a productivity/process journal.
There’s a lot more to try. You can explore why you are writing, and document it. You can work with a writing buddy. And you should find ways to reward yourself and celebrate success.
But through it all, remind yourself that this is supposed to be fun. Enthusiasm is the best tool of all for productive writing.
Peter Andrews teaches How to Write Fast and is the author of a forthcoming book by the same name. He has worked as a speechwriter, teacher, chemist, and radio producer, and he is the co-author of Innovation Passport. He can be reached at email@example.com.
LUCY: Peter will be checking in today to talk about writing fast and help brainstorm what gets in your way. Questions? Comments?