Wednesday, November 1, 2023

5 Benefits of Writing Quickly #IWSG

With November, comes the NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month.  It's a nonprofit organization that challenges us to write 50k words in the month of November. I have done the challenge for many years on and off, depending on busyness. 

Wielder's Prize was the first novel I wrote via the challenge. Sitting at around 80k words, it obviously got extra attention after the challenge finished, but it gave me such a great kick start. I learned a lot about the benefits of writing that dreaded first draft quickly.

While I have written a post about the Advantages of Writing a Fast First Draft, I would like to expand on the benefits. Writing quickly means:

1. Setting aside that inner editor.

While it's great to have an analytical inner editor, during the story creation, it can slow down the process  too much. That inner editor can trip us up and become a hindrance. We end up using it as a procrastination tool. For example, if you're stuck on a story beat, you might go back and start editing earlier content. You call it writing, but really it has stopped you from facing a hurdle that needs jumping. 

If, instead, you're focused on writing the story down quickly, knowing you'll edit later, you can tackle those tricky plot problems that might crop up, the beats, the characters, the actual story.

2. Keeps you focused on the big picture.

Writing quickly helps you remember those plot threads you've woven into the story, to keep them consistent. It helps you work on the pacing and the general flow. When you stop after a page or a paragraph to do something else, you have to return and waste time reminding yourself where you were up to. Often the flow is forgotten, the pace becomes jerky, or a character has changed traits. It becomes harder to fix later.

When writing that first draft, staying focused on the bigger picture is so important. It's so much easier when you reduce the breaks between writing.

3. Helps to avoid overthinking.

Fear and doubt are a writer's worst enemy. We might come up with a brilliant idea, but if we overwork it, start questioning it, or have time to doubt ourselves, then it will die before it even had a chance. Writing quickly pushes all that aside until we can get a proper grasp on the story.

4. More productivity.

Productivity means more stories and more sales. When someone finds your book and loves it, they'll go looking for more of your books. The best way to have more is, obviously, to write more. The bigger your backlist, the easier it is to sell. So rather than deliberating over a phrase here and there before even completing the story, leave that minutiae for the editing phase.

5. Stops us wasting precious time.

I'm guilty of spending too much time on a scene before finishing the first draft. When it came to editing, I ended up deleting that scene. Sometimes you won't know if a section works until you've finished the rest of the story. Why waste time on it before you know if it's there to stay?

What holds you back from writing quickly? If you've participated in NaNoWriMo, what benefits did you discover?

This post was written for the IWSG. Every first Wednesday of the month, members post on their blogs about their writing insecurities or offer some encouragement to others. If you are new to the IWSG or want to learn more, then please go HERE.


Denise Covey said...

I like your view on NaNo. Not for me as a deliberately slow writer, but I love it when writers have success with it.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Denise, Yeah I should've added the caveat that you have to find the writing way that works for you. What works for one person may not work for another, and that's ok.

Lisa said...

I like NaNo because it motivates me, and you’re right, writing every day (no matter your pace) keeps the energy flowing.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm a very slow writer but NaNo was a big help to me as it kept me writing. (Even if it did take me four to five hours a day to hit the daily goal.) And overthinking - yeah, I do that. Can't when you're writing fast though.

Liza said...

You have brought up some excellent points. I've never dared try NaNo, but now you have given me pause. Some day, when I have the time to write as much as I want in a month, perhaps I'll reconsider.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I can see the benefits you point out of doing NaNo, but I'm too slow of a writer and don't have the hours to devote to NaNo.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I can write quickly but I do tend to go back and edit. A lot.

H. R. Sinclair said...

No. 5 -- yes, not in the first draft. Though that is sometimes hard to abide by. Getting bogged down there can break the flow, and it's too easy to forget where you were going. 😁

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You make a good case for NaNo. I wish it was in any month except November. LOL

Patricia JL said...

Learning to do #1 was a big benefit for me and getting stuff finished.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Lisa, NaNo is a great motivator. It's worked for me for many years.

Alex, Even slow writers can set a different goal, but use the NaNo framework to stay focused and writing.

Liza, I hope one day you get the chance.

Natalie, it does take a long time to hit the 50k goal, but there's nothing stopping you from setting a lower goal to match your busy life and writing speed.

Diane, I have the same problem.

Holly, if I stop for longer than a few days, I will forget where I was going.

Susan, I know, right? November is a busy month! I guess it's better than December ;)

Patricia, Yeah same, although I slide backwards on the occasion. I can't help myself.

Nas said...

Your view of NaNo is good, Lynda. I've never attempted it as my process is different.

Rajani Rehana said...

Great blog