All of my clients bump up against the frustration of how long it takes to write. Because we can access and send things at lightning speed, we think we should be able to write and create that quickly. But writing remains a slow process. Especially a book: this requires deep thinking and space to hash out and develop our ideas.
I think what you’re looking for is more efficiency so you can make the most of your writing time. You can set yourself up to write more efficiently. The main work is knowing your own style and systems and sticking to them without wavering.
Here are seven suggestions for feeling like you are mapping and writing with more efficiency and momentum:
1. Draft your outline or main ideas into a map or table of contents. You know this pre-thinking is the main work of writing the book. What’s the main premise? Who’s it for? What do you want readers to think and do differently as a result of reading your book?
2. Discern quickly what’s relevant to the book and what’s tangental. Devise a system to store ideas that sprout up but aren’t related to your book.
3. Flesh out your table of contents. Do a chapter summary for each chapter. Develop a chapter template. Keep drilling down for each chapter, indicating what’s in each paragraph. Then draft each paragraph, either chronologically or according to what feels fresh to you at each session. Chronologically is probably more efficient but this isn’t easy or natural for most people.
Speaking the content first can be a great way to get your ideas out succinctly and quickly. I ask my clients to do this as a way to cut to the chase: if you had 15 minutes in front of your audience to tell them about your topic, what would you say? What would you say in 60 minutes?
4. Quickly and easily drop into ‘creation mode’. This, I think, is the most challenging and the one you can most easily train yourself in. Going to a cafe or place dedicated to writing helps a lot, as you know. Identifying beforehand what specific piece(s) you’ll work on is an enormous help.
5. Separate and batch your processes: identify the processes you have to undertake to write the book. Some include:
- writing the content
- soliciting and assessing feedback
6. Schedule sessions for each process, choosing times of the day and week that are best for each one. Stick with this like a robot. When traveling, either be like Chris Guillebeau and use travel time to write, or double up on writing before and after trips.
7. Find a way to recognize and appreciate progress on a daily and weekly basis. This is a crucial step that most people skip. Ignoring small gains contributes to frustration and a sense of not moving forward quickly enough.
8. The final suggestion for writing faster is to learn how to disregard the inner critic. To write past the fears and insecurities that plague most of us. I’ve been using free writing to quickly and easily get my ideas on the page. I’ve written my novel and all my books and articles with this method, and I love facilitating it for my clients and students.
Which of these suggestions is most relevant to you? Let me know in a comment below, and share the goods with your writer friends so we can all write well and efficiently!