Writing a book can seem like a mammoth task, especially if you’re aiming for a full-length novel of 100,000 words or more. Even writing a 30,000 word novella can be a daunting prospect when you’re pushed for time to write.
So how do some self-published authors publish a book a month, when others can only manage one self-published book a year? Time pressures, coming up with a great plot or outline idea, and your general writing speed all come into play.
Luckily that last one can be improved in numerous ways. Here are a few tips that took my own writing output from 3000 words per day maximum to a consistent 5-8,000 words per day.
Have an Outline
Whether you’re self-publishing a memoir, a business manual or an epic fantasy, an outline will always serve you well.
For indie fiction authors, the plotter vs. pantser debate can be a lively one. As a previous pantser I can tell you that having an outline does help me write a lot quicker.
If you’re entirely against an actual outline, try visualizing what happens in your chapter in as much detail as possible for five minutes before you begin each chapter. This technique can help you write more descriptive scenes, as well as writing them faster.
For non-fiction, it’s pretty unusual not to have an outline before you write. Making sure there’s plenty of detail to your outline, and that you’ve got all your research handy can really help you speed it up.
Write at Your Best Time
Ok, so you have an outline, you know what you’re going to write, and writer’s block should be no concern. Next, think about when you do your best writing. If you’ve never tested this, I encourage you to keep track of your word count per hour at different times of the day, until you can see a pattern forming.
I always thought I was an evening writer when in fact, my tracker showed that I write a lot faster in the mornings. My slowest writing times are 12 pm to 9 pm.
Now that I know this, I focus on book marketing and other work in the afternoons. I save all of my writing for the morning. I also don’t feel as guilty about taking afternoon naps instead of writing anymore!
Dictate Your First Draft
If you don’t have a private place to work, you might feel a bit silly talking out loud to yourself, but it’s worth getting over any reluctance and trying it.
One downside is that it can feel a bit bizarre speaking the punctuation, but you do get used to it quite quickly. The other is that you will probably encounter times when the software mishears you, so detailed editing is usually required afterward.
You don’t have to invest in expensive software. I started using just the speech to text capability directly in Microsoft Word or Google Docs on my iPhone–and almost every smartphone has something similar.
It wasn’t perfect; it misheard some words, but I managed to dictate 10,000 words in 2 ½ hours. I was hooked. Even taking into consideration the extra proofreading time, I was able to get the first draft of a 60,000 word manuscript done in a week.
The other benefit to dictation is that your manuscript will be closer to natural speech, and therefore easier to read. Your non-fiction will contain less unneeded jargon, and your fiction dialogue will become much more realistic.
If you try the free options and find them useful, Dragon Naturally Speaking is much more accurate than the standard option on your phone or word processing software. Dragon will also learn over time how you speak, to avoid you having to edit quite so much.
If you don’t get along with dictation, or you’re enjoying the indie author laptop lifestyle and working from a coffee shop, then try word sprints.
Word sprints are easy to do. Set a timer and just write. Don’t edit, don’t go back. If you get stuck on something then just put a placeholder like ‘XXX’ in there and go back to it later.
Write like your life depends on it until the time is up, without letting your internal editor have any input. You’ll be surprised at just how much you can write, and how good it is!
Just Do the Writing
Some days, the hardest part about being a self-published author is just sitting down to do the writing. Carve out time that you know you can stick to – even if it’s only 30 minutes each day.
Try to never go a day without writing at least 100 words. Once you’ve written 100, chances are you’ll manage to write a lot more. However, if you don’t make the time to sit down and write, your book will never be finished no matter how many words an hour you can crank out.
Once your masterpiece is edited and published, why not consider having it translated using the Babelcube service? You can reach readers globally, in multiple languages and with no upfront fees.
Babelcube offers authors and publishers the opportunity to sell their books in additional languages with a simple process and no upfront cost or financial risk.
Most books are only in one language due to the upfront cost of translation, struggles to find a translator, and complexities of working with retailers in different countries. Babelcube removes these barriers. Translators are paid via a share of royalties—creating a true partnership.
Babelcube is the easiest way to translate and sell a book in multiple languages. Book publishers and self-published authors team up with translators. The translated books are sold through 100s of retailers.
Check it out at Babelcube.
Written by Lisa Flynn. Lisa is a freelance writer, content marketer, and social media manager who developed a love of reading and writing from an early age. She has self-published over eleven racy novels under several top-secret pen names and also ghostwrites in the romance and erotica genres. She has partnered with Babelcube to publish novels in additional languages.