Whether your goal is to release more books, complete NaNoWriMo or get that first draft down before the idea evaporates, almost every writer would love to write faster. To make writing a viable career, you need to produce quality books regularly. And while a well-written book can take time, there are some habits that can help you speed up the process, without losing any of the quality.

Outline before you begin

It’s very difficult to write a novel quickly from scratch. It’s much easier and more effective to work from an outline. An outline provides the roadmap for the direction of your story, allowing you to begin each writing session with an idea of what you are going to write and how you intend to write it. This means less wasted time trying to come up with ideas on the fly and more time writing. An outline also ensures that you have a plot that works from the outset, rather than finding yourself midway into a manuscript that is going nowhere. If you are a pantser and prefer the surprise of writing as you go then keep your outline loose enough to add ideas and details as you progress.

Do your research

Do all the research relevant to your plot beforehand. Get to know your characters, the setting and look into any other relevant details before you sit down to write. Researching prior to writing gives you the freedom to flesh out possible story ideas, address any problem areas and consider details you may have otherwise missed.

Set mini goals

Okay, okay writing is difficult. It’s excruciatingly frustrating when you can’t seem to translate the characters and stories in your head onto paper. Make it as easy as possible for yourself by splitting up your writing into manageable chunks. Divide your writing project into small goals, with deadlines that you know you can meet. Focus on progress over perfection. To build up speed you will have to embrace the mantra of ‘good enough’. Achievement drives motivation so aim to achieve those mini-goals and build up momentum as you go.

Remove all distractions

Whether it’s social media, an interesting email or someone wanting to chat with you, distractions are the death of productive writing time. Eliminate your main distractions before you sit down to write. This may mean using noise-canceling headphones, turning your mobile on airline mode or telling others that you are not to be interrupted. Having a routine or ritual around your writing can help you remove any distractions before you begin and ensure that you take only moments to get in the zone.

Use a timer

Creative block? Try setting a timer. Nothing speeds up your writing faster than putting yourself under some pressure. Give it try. Set a timer for 10, 15 or 25 minutes then force yourself to write as much as possible in that time. It might turn out to be a mess or an uncovered piece of genius. Either way it will get you out of your head and writing. Want to take this a step further? There are plenty of online groups that organize collective writing sprints or you could form your own.   

Ignore your inner editor

No doubt you have heard this piece of advice before but it does merit repeating. Do whatever it takes to fool yourself into ignoring your mistakes and getting that first draft written. Stop worrying about your punctuation, spelling and choosing the right words. It’s time to give your inner critic the day off. Get that story down and save the editing and polishing for later.

Get in the mood

Writing a book is a big undertaking and there are going to be days when you simply don’t feel like sitting down to write. Try to approach your writing with a sense of anticipation rather than dread. Writing is a choice and if you look on it as a gift to yourself then you will find the words are more likely to flow. Struggling to get in the mood? Kick off your writing session with some free writing to loosen up your creativity. Try some creative writing exercises. Do what works for you, whether that means playing head-banging rock as you brainstorm or filling your walls with writing quotes. All we have is time and this is your time to write.