Writing More

Awesome steampunk pens (click for link)

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.



  1. […] smart, prolific, and all-around delightful writer K.A. Laity recently blogged about how to write more words, faster. She refers to an article on the SWFA website by Rachel Aaron that shares the method Rachel hit […]

  2. Kate, I actually have been trying to utilize #1 and so far… well, not so good. That isn’t to say I don’t believe the truth of what she’s saying., but I don’t always know how to move a scene forward until I play with it. I’m going to keep trying because boy, would I love that to work for me.

    • I know what you mean and I’ve seen your struggles in feeling straight-jacketed by your outlining. I think finding the right form of outlining is a part of the ‘find out what works for you’ process. I have a loose outline (one page, hand scribbled) but before each scene I stop to think about what needs to happen — and in the midst of it, what would make this more fun? Sometimes it gets silly, but I find revision much easier than the first draft.

  3. I like that triangle idea because it makes sense to me. Two weeks ago I started to work a four day week with Fridays dedicated to writing. The first Friday I managed 3000 words, the second just 1400. On reflection, the difference was I’d got it planned out in my head for the 3000 and it flowed more easily. The 1400 day was a tough one – MC picked up a new job and slightly derailed the plot. So I’m gonna use car time, shower time, whenever to prime the pump and try to let the words gush when it’s keyboard time.

  4. I love that line, “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.” So very, very true—and now I realize that I have a bit more work to do on my outline to jazz up those scenes I’ve been postponing. 🙂

    I also agree that being accountable to yourself and your spreadsheet (or whatever means you choose to track your progress), and taking the time to review that spreadsheet for patterns are both great strategies.

    Thanks for this very practical and helpful article!

    • Cheers, I figured if it helped me it would help others.

  5. Brilliantly worded advice Kate. I especially agree with side 1. Know your stuff.

    I resently read Hesdgeland and although not my typical genre to read, I was captivated because of the in depth knowledge.

    • Thanks, John. It’s always a tough line to walk when you’ve done a lot of research, balancing all the stuff you know with overloading your reader.

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