It is a truth universally acknowledged that a writer in possession of a good story idea must be in want of methods for how to write more words. For in order to get the story out before the idea ravages one’s brain or loses steam, one must write it out.
I’m a binge writer by nature. I love the idea of a slow and measured approach. But my brain chemicals don’t work that way. Slow and steady is fine for a workout plan. But when ideas hit, I have to move quick or else I overthink them and they lose all power in my head.
So, knowing how to write more words has been something that has saved my bacon a time or two. And if I’m being honest, knowing how to write fast helps me get into a state of flow, which means I feel closer to the story idea and can write it more easily.
Now, I know that everyone’s brains are different, and everyone has a different routine and way they approach the work they do. So, if none of the following information tickles your brain in a way that says, “Hey, this will work for me,” then that’s fine.
At the end of the day, you have to stay true to the fiction writing process that has worked for you.
But if you’re interested in some things that may help you write more words, then keep reading.
The Secret to Writing More
The big secret to writing more is time, if I’m being honest. I can write more now than I ever have been able to before, and that’s largely because I’ve been doing it my whole life. So, practice and dedication and the time to get good at something will always trump life hacks and magic pills.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to integrate into your writing process to help you on your way. I find setting the novel writing mood does wonders for me. And everything I mentioned in this post about how to write 10,000 words a day is good information.
Writing more isn’t just about how to write more words in a novel. It’s about how you approach the work you’re doing, and making sure you set the conditions for getting words written.
And at the end of the day, knowing how to add more words to a story doesn’t really matter if you’re adding worthless words. The story needs to be cohesive. And while I’m fine with chapters that are more vibes than load-bearing plot machines, those vibes need to be there for the sake of the story.
One of the great things about indie publishing is that as a writer, I don’t have to meet arbitrary word counts. I get to write my story, and it gets to be however long it needs to be. I’m not adding words willy nilly, or cutting them for the sake of industry standards.
So, with that, let’s talk about how to write more words.
How to Write More Words
Again, these are methods that have helped me write a lot. Will they work for you? Who even knows? I used to hate some of these methods, and I still actively hate a few as well. But I know they work, so I use them when I need to. At the end of the day, this post is about how to write more words, not how to enjoy writing. Sometimes those two things coincide, and sometimes you have a deadline and you need to get shit done, you know?
If you outline what you’re writing, you’ll be able to write more and fast. The reason is because you’ve already thought about the story, so you have a good idea of where it’s going. This means you don’t have to waste time trying to figure out the story when you’re actually writing. Now, you don’t have to outline in-depth, though if you know the main beats and consequences of your protagonist’s actions, you’ll be able to move through the story more quickly. But even a good list of bullet points can serve you well.
Writing sprints are great for getting work done quickly. Simply set a timer and write until it goes off. While you’re writing, make sure you’re pushing yourself and not stopping to edit. You can always go back and edit later, and typos are easy to fix. And while writing sprints are how I get my blog posts written and fiction writing finished, this is one fo the methods that I don’t always enjoy. It’s great when I need to get shit done, but it’s not my favorite way to write.
003: Schedule your writing sessions.
The only way to make time to write is to make time to write. That means putting it in Google Calendar or your planner and actually doing it. If you want to write more, you need to make time for it. So putting it on the schedule as much as possible is a great way to hit deadlines and finish a novel draft.
004: Show up when you say you will.
So this goes with the previous point, but scheduling a writing session is worthless if you don’t actually do it. So, if you said you’d do it, do it. Yeah, you’re only breaking a promise to yourself, but that matters. Would you still hang out with someone who always broke promises? Probably not. Don’t do that to yourself. Write when you say you will.
005: Learn to type.
I am of a generation of people who had to learn to type because we were told our ability to hit a certain amount of words per minute would be relevant on our resumes. So, I took typing in elementary, middle, and high school. Now I can type super fast and no one cares. But if you never had to learn to type and find that you can’t write as much or as quickly as you’d like, find a free online typing game and get to learning. Bonus points if you tape a piece of paper over the keyboard so you can’t look at your fingers the way we had to do it in school.
006: Write when you write.
Okay, so when we talked about sprinting I said don’t edit. That’s because when you write, you write. When you edit, you edit. This allows your brain to focus on one part of the process at a time and it means that you get more done. Sure, what you write will need to be edited. But that comes later. And you can’t edit if you don’t have enough words written in the first place. So, get it all out.
007: Block distractions.
If I’m struggling to write, I have to block everything. I use the Work Focus option on my iPhone so I don’t see any text messages or notifications. And on my laptop, I use Self-Control. It’s an app that blocks everything you ask it to for the amount of time you need it to, and you can’t turn it off without re-installing your entire operating system. That sounds intense, but if you set it for 3 hours, that means it’s only 3 hours you have to wait until you can access the stuff you blocked. And I’m blocking social media stuff, so if somehow there’s a Twitter emergency, I can access it on my phone if I need to.
008: Write when you’re not writing.
Okay. This sounds weird. But if you’re not at your desk working on whatever it is you’re working on, make sure you’ve still got your head in the game. Think about the work you’re doing when you go for a walk or when you wash dishes. Solve the little plot holes as you cook dinner. Daydream your way through the story as you go about your day. Keeping your head in the story world that you’ve created can be a great way to fall into the story more easily when it’s time to write.
009: Collect inspiration.
I use my ideas journal to keep a collection of inspiration. It’s stuff like quotes or story ideas that struck me or just stuff from other stories that I really, really liked. This helps me keep inspiration handy when it’s time to write, and thinking about the things that tickled my brain just right helps me to see what I like and what I want my stories to be.
010: Set deadlines.
The muse shows up real quick when you have a deadline. So if you can set a deadline that you must hit, you will find that you suddenly discovered how to write more words simply from the anxiety of it all. I don’t recommend this method for every writing project, but sometimes, it’s the best way to write.
How Do You Write More Words?
What methods for writing more words work for you? How do you ensure that you hit your word count? Did you also have to learn to type? What outlining method works for you?