Words by Caroline Peckham
As an independent author in the high-speed and competitive world of Amazon, it pays to publish books regularly. Whether or not you are an indie author, you may be looking to increase your daily word count to meet a deadline, or to reach a personal goal of finishing a book within a certain time-frame.
So here are my top tips for increasing word count without sacrificing the quality of your writing...
Writing is a muscle that can be grown and developed. This not only includes the skill with which you write, but also the speed at which you can produce a certain number of words. For example, if it currently takes you one hour to write 1,000 words, set yourself a goal to achieve this within 45 minutes instead.
It may seem daunting at first, but you will no doubt surprise yourself with how quickly you're able to reduce the time it takes to produce those words.
Write now, edit later
We often inhibit our own writing efforts by trying to achieve perfect prose on the first attempt. By accepting that this isn't possible, you free your mind to write what feels natural instead. Without constantly hesitating before each sentence, just let the words flow and go back over them at a later date.
If it helps, you could set yourself an hour to write and an hour to edit that writing afterwards, making a promise to yourself not to look back over your writing until you have reached the end of that first hour. Remember: you won't get it perfect the first time anyway, so you might as well get the words down now and do your edits later!
Join a writing group
If you're anything like me, you might find a bit of competition gets the words flowing. Joining writers groups on Facebook, Goodreads or in person can be a great motivator to get your words down on paper. Some groups even set daily word count goals!
If you find competition a good motivator, you might even want to take this idea to the next level and join a writing event like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where participators attempt to write 50K within the month of November.
Learn to edit as you go
Way before you send your manuscript off to an editor, you need to do some editing yourself. For me, this happens partly during the writing process. This may sound like it's contradicting the 'write now, edit later'; rule but it isn't. Editing is a skill you can develop just like writing, to the point that literally as you write, your sentences will be cleaner and need less editing in the later stages.
This is something that comes with time. After you've spent months, possibly even years editing a manuscript (usually your first!), you learn a hell of a lot about writing. During your first ever edit, you'll spot a thousand tiny problems alongside the bigger ones. Problems that could have been avoided altogether.
By noting down the mistakes you regularly make, you can be more self-aware in future. With these little adjustments building up over years, you tend to have a lot less work needed on later manuscripts.
The Long Game
Think of yourself as being on a learning curve, moving up towards greater writing skills, improved efficiency and enhanced editing techniques. It can take years to reach a point where you can produce a novel in a few months or less, but you must commit to learning your craft in the meantime.
If you're determined to be a full-time writer who produces one or more books a year, make a promise to yourself that you are in it for the long-haul. No success happens overnight and no skill is developed without effort. It's a process, so trust it, and you will eventually reap the benefits.
Caroline Peckham is the bestselling YA author of books including Creeping Shadow and Bleeding Snow. Find out more about Caroline's work here and follow her on Twitter here.