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I am currently at 5 - 10 pages (250 words/page) a day.

How to increase my speed to be able to write 15 - 20 a day?

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Learn how to type faster. –  Lauren Ipsum Apr 2 '13 at 17:13
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The answer depends on your slack time. E.g. you have 6 hours a day for writing, but effectively only use 4 hours. Then a strategy for motivating you using the other 2 hours is most promising. If you only have 3 hours a day and write 3 hours, it's getting more complicated. –  John Smithers Apr 2 '13 at 20:03
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For some people - like for me for example - the question would be more like "How to increase my speed without abysmal quality drop". There's only so much imagination can feed in a day for some of us. I could write 30 pages of utter crap a day easily, but what's the point? –  SF. Apr 2 '13 at 23:11
    
Do you have a particular reason you want to hit these numbers (15-20 pages a day) or do you just think they might be a good pace? –  Joel Shea Apr 3 '13 at 13:18
    
My main reason is to be more productive ;). And by "productive" I mean more thoughts, more mistakes, more ideas, more "everything". I believe that learning from your own experience is the most accurate for the way how my brain works. I think that if I speed up my writing then I automatically force my brain to work with my thoughts faster too. Like a juggler who can after a while juggle 5 or even 7 balls because his muscle memory and brain exposed to the everyday physical drill. –  Derfder Apr 3 '13 at 15:19
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Pick your problem from the list...


Typing speed: If it helps, you can stare intensely at your keyboard while you type and edit later. If you can go at light speed while looking at the keys, do it. Then, later, you'll be able to look up from your typing. When I was twelve (three years ago), I could hit 70wpm if I was looking at my keyboard, and maybe 30wpm if I wasn't. So you know what I did when I was writing? I looked at my keyboard. Now, I don't need to, and I've kept most of that speed.

Ideas: Go looking for them. The Internet is a wonderful place. You can spend hours on TVTropes, Limyaael's Fantasy Rants, Springhole.net, whatever. They're great. And the time you spend will pay off: if you come up with good ideas and avoid bad ones because you read those sites, you might save days in the rewriting. I know this from experience.

Also, you should train yourself to think about your story whenever you're waiting in line for something or in the shower or otherwise not occupied. You might not think you're getting any ideas this way, but it does set your brain to working on the task.

Time: Two words: close Facebook.

...I said now! Do it! I don't care if some random Indian dude you've never met wants to be your friend!

Concentration: There's a device that induces this. It's called "earbuds." You can get them for about ten dollars at Walmart. I recommend the band "Explosions in the Sky," which is all instrumental and very calming, despite what their name would lead you to believe. Sometimes I have a hard time writing to classical music, though--it grabs my focus too much. If that happens with one band/composer, find a different one.

Also, there's a device called a husband, who should be taking care of your screaming kids so you can write. If he is uncooperative, bribe him with cake. If you lack such a device, build one. Tell your kids he's Data from Star Trek.

Or just turn on Star Trek. Your kids will shut up eventually.

Enthusiasm: You may be lacking ideas, or you may be beating a dead horse of a story. If so, ditch it and find something more interesting. Unless you're under contract, in which case, you have my sympathy.


I'm a high school junior, and therefore have a lot of free time to write out long stuff like, say, this post. It's not unusual for me to work in 5000 words in a few hours, if I'm really into it or have a lot of time on my hands.

I don't write every day, and I don't always write that much when I do, but I do spend a lot of time on the Internet, reading things that were written about writing. I also read a lot of fiction. That means that when I do write, it's productive.

If I'm stalled on something, I will go back to the Internet for ideas--but I eventually write past it. You can't spend all your time taking in research, and you can't spend all your time writing, either. All intake and no output means nothing gets done, and all output without intake means you get burned out and are left with no ideas, and also that you're probably writing cliches. Balance is really important.

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Hi Rebecca and welcome to Writers.SE! I'm glad you've chosen to spend some of your writing-related surfing time with us. I look forward to seeing you around the site. –  Monica Cellio Apr 18 '13 at 2:23
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Thanks! Hopefully you guys don't mind that I tend to write... extensive posts. It's probably a novelist thing. :D –  Rebekah Apr 19 '13 at 1:07
    
Thorough is good. :-) –  Monica Cellio Apr 19 '13 at 3:27
    
As for looking at the keyboard, I almost never do. And my for-pay work revolves around typing. Go figure. (Learn about the home row and proper finger placement, and you won't need to look at the keyboard to know where on it to press down.) –  Michael Kjörling Apr 19 '13 at 14:16
    
I don't need to do that now. It's just something I did when I was younger and not used to typing, and my point is that you don't need to bind yourself to staring at the screen, thinking you'll never get faster if you look at your keyboard. –  Rebekah Apr 19 '13 at 20:12
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If you are a skilled writer, the goals you mention in your question may be not unrealistic. (1,2,3,4).

Some of the most usable advice I've seen appears in the writing blog of Rachel Aaron. A brief excerpt from the blog follows.

I ended up creating a metric, a triangle with three core requirements: Knowledge, Time, and Enthusiasm. Any one of these can noticeably boost your daily output, but all three together can turn you into a word machine. I never start writing these days unless I can hit all three.

The meaning and effect of Knowledge, Time, and Enthusiasm are given fairly clearly in the blog. I understand that more detail appears in Aaron's book 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love ($0.99 for the Kindle edition) but I haven't read it.

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20 pages per day is 5000 words per day. That's a lot.

That said, here are some ways to increase your daily output:

  • Write for more time every day.

  • Write without editing or even critiquing. You can always critique later, and edit later if necessary. This might end up increasing the total time you spend critiquing and editing, which in turn might eat into your writing time. But you might be surprised at how well you write even without your inner critic's constant "help."

  • "Word wars." Short bursts of full-speed typing. Type as fast as you can for ten minutes. These are called word wars because writers often use this as a gentle competition--who can write the most words in 10 minutes.

  • If typing speed is the bottleneck, try a Mavis Beacon typing tutor. Maybe try a keyboard layout that supports faster typing (e.g. Dvorak or Colemak). Note that while you are learning your speed will drop, perhaps significantly.

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Surprisingly many, even people who use the keyboard all the time, don't know how to touch-type. Before replacing the keyboard layout, if you don't already do it then do take the time to learn to touch-type properly. It'll do wonders to your typing speed. (Though be careful about this if you do plan to replace the keyboard layout, or you'll have an even steeper learning curve once you do.) Of course, typing speed and writing output are two very different things. –  Michael Kjörling Apr 4 '13 at 13:33
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I don't have the text in front of me so my numbers may not be completely accurate but I can at least give you a general sense of why the number of pages you write each day is a meaningless metric.

In Anne Lamott's book on writing, Bird by Bird she notes that the most prolific writers manage to write only one book about every 5-7 years. Regardless of how many pages they write each day, they're lucky if it all adds up to 1 page within the final product.

Bottom line - it doesn't matter how many pages you write each day. Every first draft is going to be bad. What matters is that you are able to sit down and write consistently and that you are able to go back and tear apart and ruthlessly edit and re-write what you've written, realizing that 15 pages in your first draft might end up being reduced to a single page, or removed completely.

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One book every 5-7 years? Seriously? Dean has written about this myth: deanwesleysmith.com/?p=4360 –  Shantnu Tiwari Apr 11 '13 at 15:24
    
First, that number is an average, and not my average but Anne Lamott's. The number is not a "myth" but a calculation. Second, Dean himself writes "NO WRITER IS THE SAME. NO PROJECT IS THE SAME." He is included in this generalization, and he himself is a particularly extreme case when you consider what kind of writing he does: (via Wikipedia) "known primarily for his Star Trek novels, film novelizations, and other novels of licensed properties such as Smallville, Spider-Man, X-Men, Aliens, Roswell, Men in Black, and Quantum Leap." –  Pat McGee Apr 17 '13 at 1:08
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