10 Tips to Draft Your Novel Fast
When we think about novel writing and the time required for it, most of us think: “I don’t have enough time for this!” With the right strategy, you can finish writing the first draft of your novel fast. That’s what NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is all about, but you can use these 10 tips year-round to draft your book fast with less stress.
1. Know what you want to write about.
When you’re not under a time crunch, you can be a pantser and write wherever the narrative takes you. If you want to finish your novel in 30 days, you must write 1,667 words every day. When writing in this condensed time frame, it helps to have an idea of your beginning, middle, and end. This will help you quickly get into the flow of writing.
When you’re writing a novel, it’s easy to get stuck on a certain scene or chapter. If you don’t know what the end goal is for the character, it makes it difficult to get to the next step of the story.
2. Make an outline before you write.
It doesn’t have to be a formal one, like the ones we’re taught in school with roman numerals and letters. Although your outline can be as detailed as you want or need it to be, you want to at least have the basic plot points or turning points of the novel. This will help you structure your book better and save time.
There are many ways you can make an outline. Here are a few good ones to try to see which ones work for you:
- Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey (The Seventeen Stages of the Monomyth)
- Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat.
- Jami Gold’s Romancing the Beat
- The W Plot
- Sarra Cannon’s How to Plan and Outline Your Novel
- Shaunta Grimes’ How to Make a Plot Board
Having an outline will give you a to-do list for each chapter so you always know what’s coming up next.
3. Set specific times to write.
Setting a scheduled time where you’re expected to do nothing but write, even when you don’t feel like it, is key to getting words out fast. Make a writing session an obligation, and it will soon become a habit. Having a routine makes the words flow better. Some authors make sure they have a specific beverage next to them. Others light a candle and play mood music. Having these routines trains your brain that it’s time to write.
4. Find the right environment.
The last thing you want to be is distracted while you’re in the writing zone. However, some authors write in busy coffee shops because they like the energy. Others go to the library or an office space, to take advantage of a writing area that isn’t home. It’s also possible to carve out a space in your home to write. Don’t have a home office or spare room to write in? Repurpose a closet. Close the door to your bedroom and put up a “Do Not Disturb” sign. Write when no one is home, after everyone has gone to bed, or before they all wake up. Write in the car or the garage if weather permits.
5. Don’t edit until you reach your goal.
If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, writing is for November and editing is for December and January. This goes for any time you’re working to draft your novel fast. You’re not trying to write a masterpiece with every sentence. You just want to finish the novel as quickly as possible.
International bestseller Nora Roberts says, “You can’t edit a blank page.” When you write your NaNoWriMo novel, it’s important to remember that this is a first draft. You have to tell the story to yourself first before you can polish it so everyone else can enjoy it.
6. Set achievable goals.
To reach 50,000-words in one month, you have to write 1,667 words per day. But what if you can’t do that? Don’t panic. Cut that in half and if it takes you two months to finish, that’s still more words than you would have written normally, right? While the goal is to win NaNoWriMo, the real goal is to finish your novel.
7. Try to work on your novel for an hour a day.
Ideally, that hour will be spent writing. But some days are busier than others. Don’t discount taking the time to think about your characters and process what comes next. You can do that driving in traffic, waiting in line, or cooking dinner. If you’re going to be away from your computer, you can take a notebook and jot down notes in your downtime. If you’re going to be driving a long distance, consider dictating your novel into a recorder or an app on your phone.
8. Get some techie help.
There are a bunch of productivity apps to help you stay focused while writing. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Write or Die – Not for the faint of heart. You set your word count or a time that you want to spend writing. If you stop typing, you get punished. Set the punishment as an annoying sound, pop up, or having the app delete your words.
- Freedom – This app blocks distractions on your phone until you complete your daily goal.
- Pomofocus – This app makes it easy to follow the Pomodoro technique that writers use to do writing sprints for twenty-five minutes, then a short break, and then twenty-five more minutes.
- 4thewords – This is a fun one where you level up your character with better armor, equipment, and rewards based on your word count. If you’re a Dungeons and Dragons fan, this is the writing app that will keep you motivated.
9. Turn Off Your Inner Editor
If you want to write faster, you must silence your inner editor. When you self-edit while writing, it slows you down more than you realize. This is a difficult phase for most authors since we are so critical of ourselves. Give yourself permission to write garbage for the month of November. You can fix it later once you reach 50,000 words.
10. When you’re stuck, just keep writing.
Just start writing whatever comes into your head. Have your characters save a puppy. Have them get into an argument. Have them do something that shows what type of person they are. If worse comes to worst, just start writing whatever comes to mind. Describe the house, a flower, or their car. Logic isn’t as important as you think it is. The key is to just start writing and eventually you get back on track. You can always delete what you wrote – after you finish the first draft!
USA Today bestselling author, Jamie K. Schmidt, writes erotic contemporary love stories and paranormal romances. Her steamy, romantic comedy, Life’s a Beach, reached #65 on USA Today, #2 on Barnes & Noble and #9 on Amazon and iBooks. Her Club Inferno series from Random House’s Loveswept line has hit both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble top one hundred lists. The first book in the series, Heat, put her on the USA Today bestseller list for the first time, and is a #1 Amazon bestseller. Her book Stud is a 2018 Romance Writers of America Rita® Finalist in Erotica. Her dragon paranormal romance series has been called “fun and quirky” and “endearing.” Partnered with New York Times bestselling author and actress, Jenna Jameson, Jamie’s hardcover debut, SPICE, continues Jenna’s FATE trilogy.
With so many demands on your time, it’s essential that you use your writing time wisely. Time management can help you to be more productive, organized, and efficient.
Imagining a personal Scrooge-like journey can help us make choices for a brighter future in the new writing year. So, what are the Ghosts trying to tell you?