If you’re a writer, then you’ve probably wondered how to write a lot of words. I’m not saying it’s always your priority, but it’s probably something on your radar.

hands on a typewriter with the text "How to Write a Lot of Words"

There are a lot of reasons why you may want to try to write a lot of words. And depending on the writing you do, it may make a lot of sense to get good at it.

I’ve talked about a lot of these tips before. And I do have some resources for if you want to know how to write fast, or how to write 10,000 words a day.

But in case you aren’t convinced, let me explain why learning how to write a lot of words may be good for you.

Why You May Want to Try to Write a Lot of Words

Notice I said “may want to try.” You don’t have to do this. And for some, writing is a thing they do for fun or to relax.

So if you’re one of those folks who reads posts like this one and goes off to write a think piece about how writing should be slow, power to you. That is literally not how the industry works anymore, but power to you.

For the rest of us, here’s some reasons you might want to try to write a lot of words.

001: Fast drafting.

I’m a fast drafter. I have to write a novel in under a month, or I just lose the plot. I’m not sure if this is a manifestation of neurodivergence or what. But it works for me.

So, if I can write a lot of words fast, then I can get the skeleton of a draft out of my head and into something I can work with.

I like fast drafting because it enables me to get a fully-formed story into the world. Then, I can edit it and add where I need to.

But for me, fast drafting requires being able to write a lot of words fast so the draft is out fast.

002: Rapid releasing.

One of the more popular marketing strategies for indie authors is rapid releasing. That’s where you release a book approximately every month.

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Now, this is something that purists hate. There is much complaining about how it should take at least a year to write a book.

And maybe that’s the case for some folks. Should every book have the same timeline? Nope. That’s just silly.

But if you want to try rapid releasing (and be a viable force in the indie publishing market) you need to write a lot of words and often.

003: Deadlines coming.

This is the perpetual state I live in.

Did you know, that as a writer, once you finish one deadline, there’s another one right around the corner. THEY JUST KEEP COMING AT YA HARD AND FAST AND ALL YOU CAN DO IS WRITE SOME WORDS.

So, if you also have a bunch of deadlines, you know the value of knowing how to write a lot of words.

How to Write a Lot of Words

Okay. So. We’ve discussed why you might want to write figurative basketfuls of words. But how does one do that?

Take a seat, kiddo. Mama’s got ya.

001: Write first, edit later.

I say this a lot, but I’m gonna keep saying it until everyone hears it.

When you only write when you’re writing, it goes so much faster and you get so much more done.

If you stop your writing to edit, you not only slow way down, but you also switch over to another side of your brain. So, rather than spontaneously generating words and getting them out of your head, you’re being critical of what you’re doing.

And I don’t know about you, but I’m not super productive when I’m worried if I sound like a moron. Like, yes. Some of the stuff I write will get edited out because I do sound like a moron. But that is a problem for future Marisa, who is the editor.

And if you want to write a lot of words, it’s easier to write a lot of words and come back and edit than it is to write some words, edit, then write some more, then edit.

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I swear by this method, and I will continue to use it until I die.

And if you need some help building up your writing habit, check out this free email course designed to help you build your writing habit I created to help you.

002: Do writing sprints.

Now, I don’t always do writing sprints, but when I’ve got a large word count to hit, I do.

I have a little digital timer on my desk specifically for this purpose. I get all my writing stuff ready to go–outlines, working document, and music to drown out all the distractions.

Then, I brush up on the outline. When I know what I’m about to write and I’m in the headspace of that particular story, I set the timer. I usually go for twenty minutes. And when that timer is going, I’m just writing. I don’t go back and edit. I don’t stop to look something up.

If I come to a place where I know I will need to come back and fix it later, I’ll just type “XXXXX” and keep going. Then, when I’m editing later (which does not happen while I’m writing!) I can search for all those Xs, and fill in the blanks.

The cool thing about sprints is that it makes you write faster. You can push yourself for twenty minutes, and sometimes, you’ll be shocked at how much you can do.

Again, though, this isn’t something I do all the time. Sometimes I just need to curl up with my laptop in bed and write at a leisurely pace to remind myself that I actually like what I’m doing.

003: Follow an outline.

So, I mentioned that I use an outline when I sprint. But I can’t stress how important outlines are.

I use an outline for all my writing. Even this blog post.

Outlines get to be as detailed as you want, but I think the level of detail should match the project. The longer the project, the more detail you need.

So, it’s not uncommon for a novel outline to fill 20-30 pages. Though, I know writers who have longer outlines for books.

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This blog post? The outline fit on a Post-It note with room to spare.

The reason the outline exists though is so you know what you’re going to say next, and to keep you on track. Before I started outlining, my writing was 100% tangents that branched off in very unfruitful directions.

But with an outline? I know what I gotta say, and I can figure out how to say it as I write.

004: Clear out distractions.

Okay. So. Here’s the thing with existing in the present. You got a lot of distractions.

Whether it’s your phone, your loved ones, politics, or just the tag on the back of your shirt ruining your day, you can be so distracted that nothing ever gets done.

Some distractions can be cleared away. Change your shirt. But your phone on Do Not Disturb. Stop watching cable news.

(If you need help getting your phone under control, here’s a really old post about a super simple phone hack to save your sanity.)

Your loved ones? You can’t clear them out. But if they love you, chances are they will give you the time and space you need to do some writing.

And if you’re sprinting, the time you need away from your loved ones won’t be so long.

Clearing out distractions makes it easier for you to get work done. And if you can write undistracted, you can get a lot more done in one session than you would otherwise.

Are You Ready to Write a Lot of Words?

So, have I convinced you? Are you ready to try to write a lot of words? What do you need to keep focused on your writing? How do you hit your word count goals?

2 Responses

  1. I think you are right that if you are going to make it in the indie scene that you have to write a large volume of words, but I also feel that where those words are written matters too. You could write 10k words in youtube comments but that isn’t in your novel.

    Conversely, it is a trap to think that writing novels will get you the exposure you are looking for. At some point you have to write to other people and let them know you are making cool stuff.

    Great post, I’ll have to think about outlining more.

    Out of curiosity, why do you use three digits in chapter headings?

    1. I mostly do it so WordPress won’t automatically format it into a numbered list. Also, I think it looks cool.

      Interesting point about promoting your writing and telling others your work is out there. Do you have a place you like to post about it? Any promo recommendations?

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