My pen is bigger than your pen! Okay, that’s what the rhetoric seems like lately. Twitter was aghast when Brian Keene announced that he wrote 80,000 words in one weekend. Lots of writers looked down at their puny word count and died of embarrassment. Many others hotly expressed a certainty that quality mattered much more than quantity.
Not to worry.
However much you write, you probably wouldn’t mind writing more. However well you write, wouldn’t you like to write more? I will expand upon my very general advice (shut up and write) to point you toward Rachel Aaron’s entirely sensible and insightful post for SFWA about how she went from writing 2K a day to writing 10K. Unlike Keene’s all out effort to clear the decks of all distractions for one weekend in order to make a (presumably neglected) deadline, Aaron offers reasonable and easily implemented practices that any writer can employ. Most writers have other jobs, too — there’s a fair few who have the moxie to support themselves as full-time writers. But you can work toward that goal faster.
Aaron boils things down to this pyramid:
Side 1: Knowledge, or Know What You’re Writing Before You Write It
“Here I was, desperate for time, floundering in a scene, and yet I was doing the hardest work of writing (figuring out exactly what needs to happen to move the scene forward in the most dramatic and exciting way) in the most time consuming way possible (ie, in the middle of the writing itself)…”
Side 2: Time
“Every day I had a writing session I would note the time I started, the time I stopped, how many words I wrote, and where I was writing on a spreadsheet. I did this for two months, and then I looked for patterns….”
Side 3: Enthusiasm
“If I had scenes that were boring enough that I didn’t want to write them, then there was no way in hell anyone would want to read them. This was my novel, after all. If I didn’t love it, no one would…”
Like most really good advice, it’s all sensible and ‘obvious’ once you step back and be truthful with yourself. But you have to do that. None of this matters if you aren’t actually writing, so write! Read the essay; even if you only go from 500 words a day to 1000 (or 50 to 100) you will benefit from it. Thank you, Aaron.