Why you aren't writing more

Why You Aren’t Writing More…And What You Can Do About It

Why you aren't writing more

Can you learn to write faster?

One thing I’m asked frequently is how I write so much. I get asked by both readers and writers. This post is my answer to some of the specific questions I’ve received lately.

Writing fast is a skill that can be learned. Last summer, I was writing about 800 words in my ninety-minute writing time. Now I’m up to about 2,300 or so words in that same amount of time. One morning, I broke 2,800 words!

I published my first novel in the end of November of 2012. I now have ten titles published on Amazon with another almost ready to publish.

My chief goal is to turn this into a career. That’s why I treat it like one now.

This leads me to one of the most important factors in writing more….

Mind Shift

Mindset doesn’t sound all that exciting. But then again, this is post about how to get your writing groove on. It’s not full of gimmicks that won’t help you in the long run. Mindset is crucial for long-term success in any endeavor.

If you knew me before I started writing fiction, you probably remember my personal growth blog. And if you remember that, you probably also remember my focus on the topic of mindset. Just because I now write about vampires, that doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten what’s really important. I still keep track of where my thoughts are taking me.

No matter what your goals are, you must have the right frame of mind. Let’s get to work.

What Are Your Goals?

Before you go anywhere, you need to know what your goals are. Do you want write for fun? Make a little extra money? Turn it into a career? Become a best seller?

Know where you’re going before you start mapping your path.

Lose the Excuses

We always, always find time for what we really want out of life. Do you make time for your favorite show? Catching that new movie? Reading a favorite book? Hanging out with friends? Sleeping in on the weekends?

You can give up any of those to spend time writing – if you really want to. What’s more important?

When I first started writing fiction, I tried to fit it into my schedule. It didn’t take long to figure out that it wasn’t going to happen by chance. I knew I was going to have to make the time. I took a hard look at my schedule of parenting, homeschooling, and running a home preschool 50+ hours a week. The only way I was going to have any time for writing was to wake up earlier. And by earlier, I mean 4am.

I’m not saying you have to get up that early, but you might have to do something drastic, like giving up some TV time or partying with your friends. That’s something only you can decide.

Take Action

You’ve decided what you’re going to do – bravo! You’re leaps and bounds ahead of others. Now get out there and get to it! Grab your new writing time by the horns and get to work.

Wait! What does that look like? Where should you start? Sitting down in front of a blank screen or page without a game plan is only going to waste the time you made all the effort to set aside. What you need is a….

Writing Process

A question I get from other authors is HOW do I manage to write so many words? What’s my process? How do I suffocate the internal editor? How do I plan my writing?

Keep in mind that what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. Take what you will from my own process. This is what works for me.

Prep time

Remember the mindset I mentioned earlier? Part of that is keeping my mind on writing all day long, no matter what I’m doing. If I’m cooking, in the car, or doing whatever, my stories are always on my mind. Anything can be a potential storyline. I’m always on the lookout.

I also spend time reading up on the craft of writing. I read blogs, converse with other writers, and listen to writing and publishing podcasts.

Before I go to sleep, I think about what I’m going to write the next day. I think about possible plot developments, conversations, and whatever else I expect to write about in the morning.

This is important because when we sleep, our minds work out our problems, and especially the last things we think about before sleep.

Outlining

The majority of my prep is restricted to my mind. I rarely actually write anything down, and when I do, it’s at a minimum. When I outline, it’s bare bones. I write about 5-10 sentences before I start a book in most cases, unless it’s a new series. Then I need more for world building. I’ll usually write out a couple pages on paper.

For an example, this is the outline for my novella Fallen:

Samantha eating with Vince when he tells her that he heard a rumor about Marguerite being alive

She wants to check it out herself

Approaches M at the deli where she works. Totally not impressed; doubts it’s even her.

Back to Vince, they decide she should try to get in and be her “friend”

She finds that there aren’t any v’s around

Finds her to be to difficult to get through

Vince comes up with the plan to get to her through a guy, goes through a couple before finding T

Rel with T: fake story about her becoming a v

Writing time

I wake up and start writing without doing anything else. I grab my laptop, get comfortable on the couch, and let my fingers run. I don’t listen to music or drink coffee. I don’t open my browser or check my email.

Nothing is allowed to get in the way of my writing time. The nice thing about 4am is that the only thing that can distract me (most of the time!) is myself. It’s all too easy to get distracted by social media or email, so I don’t allow it before I hit my word count for the day.

Writing Fast

Last November, I shared some of my ninja tricks for writing faster. Those five tips will help you to speed up your actual writing. If you’re interested, check out that post.

Quiet the Internal Editor

One of the things that’s tempting is editing as I go. Other authors deal with this too, as I’ve been asked how I do it. The simple answer is: stop editing. No, it’s not easy. But it’s back to mindset: Think of your writing time as writing time. You can edit and run spell check another time.

Trust me. When you see how much faster you write when you stop editing, you won’t want to go back. Force yourself to keep going after you make an error. You will catch it later.

When is the Story Done?

Give up on the idea of a perfect novel. It isn’t going to happen. There is no book out there which is error-free. I’ve never read one, but I’ve been told that even the Harry Potter books have errors. Once you’ve given it your best efforts and written the best story you can, it’s time to put it out there.

Your best efforts should include having others critique and edit your work. Beta readers are invaluable – mine definitely are. You should have specific questions for them to answer, and if you’re not paying for a professional editor, you should have one or two betas who can help you with that.

The time definitely comes when you let your “baby” go out into the world so you can focus on the next one.

Image by @boetter

16 thoughts on “Why You Aren’t Writing More…And What You Can Do About It

  1. Stephanie Pitcher Fishman
    Twitter:

    This is a great post, Stacy! Thanks so much for sharing it. I really need to work on making more time. It seems like I always have a few days a week that seem difficult when really I need to just bite the bullet and cut something. I really needed to hear the parts about not expecting perfection. At some point it just needs to be done, doesn’t it? “Perfection is the enemy of done…”
    Stephanie Pitcher Fishman invites you to read… Flash Fiction Friday: ColdMy Profile

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    1. Stacy Claflin
      Twitter:
      Post author

      Thanks, Stephanie. Your quote is perfect. If we try to achieve perfection, we never will. Especially with fiction, people are looking more to be entertained more than they’re looking for a literary masterpiece. As long as there aren’t too many errors, readers are generally forgiving. Having a great story is the most important thing to focus on.
      Stacy Claflin invites you to read… Fallen: #Free Paranormal Romance – Is Love Enough? #RomanticSuspenseMy Profile

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  2. Jeri
    Twitter:

    Quieting my internal editor is a biggie for me, especially since I edit books on a freelance basis as well. My natural inclinations are to edit more so than to just let a draft rip. Must be all those huge papers I wrote in graduate school that sorta beat the fun out of the creative process for me, but I’m gradually finding my writing stride again. I’ll be happy when I can write 5,000 words a week. I envy people who can put out decent material in a relatively short amount of time, but I’m such a messy drafter. I just have to make my piece with that. I’m happy to self-publish one title a year while seeking an agent for my novel.
    Jeri invites you to read… #Editor: Manuscript Critique SampleMy Profile

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    1. Stacy Claflin
      Twitter:
      Post author

      Hi Natalia,
      A lot of writers prefer the late hours to the early ones. :) I probably would have chosen that route if I could have. Early morning is the only time everyone is asleep around here. Unless someone is sick, I have uninterrupted writing time. That would never happen at night!
      Stacy Claflin invites you to read… Writer’s ResourcesMy Profile

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