Top Productivity Tips for Novelists | NY Book Editors
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How to Write More Words Every Day: An Action Plan for Novelists


I’ve heard stories about people who write 10,000 words every single day. I think that’s amazing, but if I tried to write 10,000 words in any single day, my fingers would fall off and my brain would turn to mush.

Rest assured, dear reader, I’m not challenging you to a 10,000-word-a-day race. I’m afraid there would be no winners in that contest. Instead, I’m giving you a few tips to empower you to write a modest (by comparison) 2,000 words per day.

Why such a seemingly arbitrary amount?

It’s in the title. This post is for novelists. If you can manage to write 2,000 words each day, you’ll be able to complete a novel’s worth of writing within 30 days.

Let’s do the math. The average novel is between 50,000 to 70,000 words. If you write 2,000 words every day, you’ll have 60,000 words after 30 days. That just so happens to be the amount of a full-length novel.

Before you attack me in the comments, I know there’s more to novel writing than spitting out words. However, with a little bit of planning and a lot of writing, you’ll be able to create a good first draft by this time next month.

But what if the idea of writing 2,000 words each day scares you?

It still scares me, too, but I do it anyway. You can do it also.

In this post, I’ll share how to increase your word count so you can finally get that novel out of your brain and onto paper. Let’s get started.

Don't Wait for Inspiration

Inspiration is not your friend. You can wait for him but he won’t show up, and you cannot call him because he doesn’t answer the phone.

Instead of waiting for inspiration, just start writing. But here’s the hack: start writing the section of your novel that you’re most stirred up and passionate about that day. The best way to write more each day is to care about what you’re writing.

The best way to write more each day is to actually care about what you’re writing.

There’s no rule that says you have to start at the beginning or even where you left off yesterday. Just write from whichever section excites you and then trust the process that eventually you’ll get around to writing the whole thing.

Get Thee a Thesaurus

Have you ever spent an inordinate amount of time searching the maze of your brain for that perfect word?

You, my friend, needed a thesaurus. Every writer does. The good thing about a thesaurus is that, unlike inspiration, it never disappoints when you need help.

I sometimes use a thesaurus for every sentence that I write. Otherwise, it takes forever to compose a paragraph.

If you’re like me, you could’ve written 100 words in the time that you wasted hunting for that one, perfect word.

This is why using a thesaurus is part of your action plan. The right thesaurus will allow you to quickly find the word that you were thinking of (or even something better).

My favorite thesaurus is OneLook. It’s lightning-fast, provides definitions and examples, and allows you to filter search results by alphabet or rhyme, among other options. OneLook acts as a reverse dictionary which means that you can also enter a phrase or describe an idea and get a list of synonyms in return. OneLook is also available as a free add-on for Google Docs.

Top Productivity Tips for Novelists

Start With a Plan

“Outline” may be a dirty word to some writers, but when you’re aiming to get more stuff done, you can’t go without one.

To write more words regularly, go into every single day with an idea of what you’d like to write. It can be a loose idea. There’s no need to have a full-on bulleted list. However, you do need some direction so that you aren’t on an aimless tangent. You’re writing a novel, after all, not a stream of consciousness.

Research Before You Write

Researching while writing will undermine your ability to write more words. If you’re constantly stopping to fact check, you’ll slow writing productivity.

Don't allow yourself to go on research rabbit trails when it’s time to write. Assign a time for research. Then, when you’re ready to write, focus intently on that task without stopping to fact-check or research. You may get certain details wrong, but that’s what editing and revision are for.

Notify Your Loved Ones

You’ve just settled in for a peaceful and hopefully productive writing session, and then your friends call, text, knock on your door, or send a homing pigeon to your window. All of a sudden, you’re the most popular person in the world.

There’s no nice way to tell you this but your friends and family are sabotaging your success. You won’t be able to write more words every day until you tell your friends and family that you can’t be disturbed during your writing session. And then turn off your phone, and close your windows, and your blinds.

Figure Out Your Optimal Word Count

Remember how I said that writing 2,000 words is the goal? That’s also the minimum. You may be able to write more than that amount depending on how much time you have to write each day. The more hours that you can devote to writing, the more writing you can probably get done.

This takes time and experimentation.

Find a word count that feels comfortable and attempt to hit that count each day. Then build on it by 25-word increments. If it’s 2,500 words, great. If it’s 5,000 words, even better. But don’t stress yourself out by writing too much. If, after 2,000 words, you’ve hit your limit, that’s fine. Figure out your sweet spot and be consistent with writing that amount of words each day.

Increase Your Typing Speed

How can we talk about writing more words daily without talking about typing faster? Most of us can stand to type faster. The average person types 40 words per minute. The fastest recorded typing speed on a QWERTY keyboard was 216 words per minute.

While you may never get close to that incredible speed (without spontaneously bursting into flames), you can get faster and maybe even double your typing speed.

First, figure out how fast you type using a tool like TypingTest. Then, get faster at touch typing by using a tool like TypingClub, which is geared toward school-aged students but thorough in its teaching methods (and it’s free!).

Top Productivity Tips for Novelists

If you could increase your speed by 10-20 words per minute, that'll equal 600-1200 words in addition to what you're currently typing.

Write Early

Morning is often the best time to write prolifically. You’re still fresh and unbothered. If you had the foresight to plan what you’ll write the night before, you can wake up, make a quick trip to the bathroom, grab a cup of coffee, and then settle into your writing.

On the other hand, writing at the end of the day is a soul-crushing experience. By the day’s end, you’re beaten down with all of the crap that life’s thrown at you. Your creativity has dwindled and you’re less likely to take chances. For creative work, such as novel writing, it’s better to start in the early hours. If you haven’t already, try it, and let us know what you think.

What’s Your Top Writing Productivity Tip?

Share your favorite writing tip with us in the comments!

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