How to Write More

People ask me all the time, “How can you write so much?” I don’t really feel as if I write all that much, but I suppose that at this point my long bibliography suggests that I have. Let’s ignore the fact that it took years to build up that list of publications and look at the most recent and I find that yes, I am writing faster and more than I used to do. You can too.

[I feel like I should be talking like Ron Popeil here.]

My basic writing advice has always been what I tell myself: shut up and write. Amazingly good advice that has served me well. If you’re whinging about writing or tweeting or facebooking, you’re not doing the work of writing. Only writing is writing.

What’s that you say? “You seem to be on social media 24/7, Kate. What’s up with that?”

Yes, it seems that way sometimes, but the truth is I spend less time on social media than the average person spends watching television. I don’t really watch television. The key is timing — and choices. And the other groovy thing? I try out writing ideas on social media and cannibalise what I’ve used.

[Except for the super long fainting goats discussion: haven’t found a way to use that yet, but I will.]

So what’s the real key? Write and don’t stop.

Do you realise how much time people lose faffing about second-guessing their writing efforts? Doubting, revising, deleting, rethinking. Don’t. Write it, finish it, let it set for a while. Then go back and give it a critical eye. Look at what works and doesn’t. Set aside your ego if you think everything you write is gold — set aside your self doubt if you think everything you write is dreck: you’re both wrong. It’s just a story you’re making up. It’s not a matter of life and death; if you’re writing, that’s a good thing because creation is a great joy. There’s another pay off.

The more you write, the better you get.

Agonising over every word is not what makes you a better writer. It’s practice, practice, practice. The more you give free rein to the creative part of the brain, the better and faster and more consistently it will run. Be playful, be fearless — write crap! We’ve all got loads of it in us. But write, then revise, and then send it off. Because someone out there is waiting for your words. You just have to find them. But in the mean time, love writing. It’s a great way to live.

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28 Comments

  1. Great tips, thankyou for reinforcing “Write-sit-edit”. This is a constant. Obstacle of mine when writing anything.

    • Oh, used to be mine, too. Time gets more important as you get older! I’m not of a mind to waste it.

  2. I started to write a reply here, but it got too long. Here’s the blog post: http://www.crimefictionbook.com/apps/blog/show/16306733-social-media-more-dead-novels-than-a-nazi-book-burning

  3. Brilliant. As always.

  4. Great advice. It is precisely why love the Junowrimo and Nanowrimo because it focuses you to just write and write and write.

    • Yes, deadlines — even self-imposed — help immensely.

  5. Thanks, Kate. I’m certainly guilty of all of the above. Appreciate the kick in the pants!

  6. I will take this to heart! Thank you!

  7. Great post, Kate! I have a quote above my computer, “Don’t write it right, write it down.” Unfortunately, I don’t remember who said it first. I’ve found, with the novel I’m working on now, that I have to force myself not to go back and edit. My goal is to finish then go back and make the changes I know are needed.

    • I know what you mean, Missy. It took me forever to knock that habit back. Sometimes I make notes for earlier parts of a novel, but I have become good about pushing on to the end first. It’s hard!

      • Definitely hard! I use Scrivener and it has a great function that allows notes. I’ve used to remind me that I’ve changed something later on and will need to adjust for it to make sense. I’m hoping that when it is completed and I read through it, I’ll identify the things that need improvement. Plus, I have a great CP that keeps me on my toes. 🙂

  8. Thanks Kate–your words echoed in my mind as I wrote this morning.

  9. While I accept writinmg more is a valid problem for many people, the immediate thought that sprang to my mind is that perhaps there should be more focus on writing WELL before we get to the MORE. Sure, we get better by writing more, but there is more to it than that – it’s not enough to write more and edit more, but to have it critiqued, to critique others, to readw idely, to read craft books, to attend workshops and seminars and writing conferences and even, perhaps, to engage an editor.

    • “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”―Jodi Picoult

  10. FABULOUS!! Best writing advice EVER!!

  11. Today I was tweeting about finally writing and this tweet pops up via @ninaAmir Nice timing! thanks.

  12. Great to read such a positive post. I’ve found it best just to write, in the certain knowledge that several re-reads/re-edits will iron out the lumps and bumps. And a good editor of course!

    • Oh, I love my editors! They make me look good. 🙂

  13. […] 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 […]

  14. […] [The original version of this appeared at A Knife & A Quill] […]

  15. […] Kate Laity blogged about this at the Knife and Quill. Her message is short and to the point: […]


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