Over the last three years I have struggled with producing novels at regular intervals. Some authors I’ve talked to can pump out half a dozen full-length novels a year; I’m lucky if I can finish one 80,000 word novel, that’s not including the revisions and editing.
So I got to thinking, “How can I cut my writing time in half?”
I have a full time job, 2 blogs, 2 facebook pages, 2 writing groups, and an online writing school I manage and provide content for on top of writing my fantasy novels. That’s not including taking care of my son, husband, 4 dogs, and home. I’m a busy woman. There just aren’t enough hours in my week to get everything done and it shows.
Normally, I write when inspiration strikes; ignoring all planning and diving right into the nitty-gritty. I blame it on poor time management skills and the fact that I never had to schedule writing into my life while I was a stay at home mom.
With my time being limited I decided that I needed to approach the art of writing from a different angle.
What doesn’t work:
Writing when the mood strikes.
It’s great when it happens but you won’t get much done. In a single week using this method I was able to write 3 whole pages. That’s it. Inspiration doesn’t strike as often as I’d like, even when I go back and try to get inspiration from things that usually get my juices flowing.
What does work:
Outlines. They help you see what will happen to your character and how they will get from point A to point B. A good outline leads to a cohesive story that flows more freely and has less gaps to fill when you finish the rough draft.
What works best for me:
These work because you get to see everything that happens to your characters, how they feel and react toward other characters without having to go into too much detail.
I found that when I wrote a short description on a chapter based off of my outline, I was able to write an entire 10 page chapter in a few hours and I didn’t have to edit as much.
So how do you outline a chapter?
If you took English class you should know how to do this. It’s pretty simple.
- This is chapter one
- This is Amy
- Something happens to her
- This is how she respond to the issue
- This is chapter two
- Amy goes to see Prue
- This is what Prue tells Amy to do about the issue
- This is the dilemma that Amy faces
- This is what she plans on doing
Ect… You fill in the blanks.
Honestly, the fun part is writing the short descriptions. Here’s how you do that.
-Chapter 1:Amy awakes from a deep slumber to find a dark figure standing above her. At first she is confused until she realizes its a ghost at which point she screams -and since she is an avid supernatural fan- she leaps from her bed and grabs an iron poker from in front of the fireplace and disperses the old man’s ghost with it. Being too shaken to sleep or stay in the apartment, she grabs her things and heads to her Aunt Prue’s…a Gipsy palm reader. She never believed in her aunts ramblings but after seeing the ghost she believes that there may be some truth to Aunt Prues stories.-
-Chapter 2: Amy pulls her old beat up dodge into one of the the 3 spots in the small parking lot behind a small brick building that houses her aunts shop. A bright neon sign that looks like a hand hangs in the window at the back of the building and a large sign that reads “Prue’s Premonitions” hangs above the old oak door…-
You can make your short descriptions as long or short, bland or detailed as you want them. The more details you put into the short description, the easier and faster it will be to turn it into a fully detailed and polished chapter/book later.
Using short descriptions I effectively tripled my daily writing and I’m sure with time I will get faster.