6 tips for writing a fast book for Nanowrimo

Don’t write yourself into a tight corner – follow these 6 guidelines to write a fast book.  Entrance to Paisley Close, Edinburgh, 2016

National Novel Writing Month requires you to complete a 50,000 word work of fiction in 30 days. If your typing is speedy, this is quite achievable. But what you choose to write for Nanowrimo can scupper you before you start. Follow theses guides to write a fast book.

  1. Go contemporary. I love to write fantasy, but even urban fantasy requires world building and development of a magic system. All of that eats into writing time. Set it now, in the real world, and save yourself the work.
  2. Go local. Exotic settings are great but need research. Set the action somewhere you know, have visited, or have painstakingly stalked with Google Streetview.
  3. Go genre. For romance, thriller, mystery and horror the conventions are already in place.  For literary ground-breaking, wait until you’re not grinding out 1666 words every day for a solid month.
  4. Go away. The essence of a fast book, for Nanowrimo or any other project, is undisturbed writing time, in big blocks. Bestseller JF Penn loves a cruise for getting her writing done. I’d love that too, but I have to do the school run. If you can hang an enforceable Do Not Disturb sign on your writing space for a chunk of time every day, do that. If not, book a Premier Inn and do 13,000 words a day over a long weekend. It’s possible. Exhausting, but possible.
  5. Use a template. I don’t mean find a get-rich-quick writing formula. I mean take your favourite novel and slice it up into chapters, parts, scenes, themes which you can use as a model for your work. Chris Baty, founder of Nanowrimo, recommends this in his No Plot, No Problem! guide. It’s very reassuring somehow to see that a real book is only 10 chapters of  5,000 words, each made of a few scenes. That’s very possible, and does not make for a big To Do list.
  6. Do not research as you go. For every thing you write which makes you think, I must check that – don’t. Resist the urge to quickly google it, or scan a few free preview pages on Kindle. Just jot it down in another document, and keep typing. My current list includes ‘nabob’, ‘spun glass wig’ and ‘leghorn’. I’ll look them up later, but meanwhile, I have bluffed it.

I’m using all of these (except #1, my bad) in my current project, which is a purely for-fun story. I want it done, but quickly so I can return to the Thing I shoved on the back burner three weeks ago.

Also I want it done fast because I have learned that my enthusiasm for most things last three weeks. Three weeks. Bam. That’s it. Midway through week four, I cannot be bothered with it. Maybe this blog should be called GadflyMind. But anyway, fast writing is vital for me.

Editing, though – boy, I could edit all day. And soon, if I follow my own advice and finish draft 1 of this project, I’ll be able to. And there will still be time for a new book for Nanowrimo!

How do you write when you need to write fast? Let me know! -Sef