I admit, I’m a slow writer myself.
So I know how desperately you want to speed up your output. In fact, you’ve probably done your research and read many articles on how to double your writing speed (just like what I did).
But I won’t talk about increasing your writing speed. You can google this. There are many articles on this.
Instead, I’m going to talk about embracing this part of you.
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1. Don’t Blame Yourself
First, don’t blame yourself.
It’s not your fault that you write slow.
Fiction writing is a creative pursuit. It requires a lot of brain juice. You need to overcome both writer’s block and creativity slumps.
You’re not simply putting words on the paper. You’re crafting a story—an interesting story that others will enjoy.
You’ll have to write, edit, revise then perfect this manuscript.
Therefore, fiction writing is exhausting. It’s thus understandable why you write so slowly… because you want to get the words right.
And this brings us to our next point.
2. Embrace Your Inner Critic
I’ve been told to silence my inner critic. Most articles on how to write faster mention that your inner critic is the biggest obstacle and killing it is the sure-fire way to boost your writing productivity.
Well, you know what?
I won’t tell you to get rid of it. Instead, I encourage you to embrace your inner critic.
Believe me, I’ve tried turning off my inner critic… and it failed. I just can’t seem to shut it off completely. Do you know that feeling where there’s a voice at the back of your head that keeps nagging at you? Well, there’s a voice telling me that the words aren’t right. That I need to edit the sentence I’ve just written.
And this is the main reason behind my slow writing speed: I spend a lot of time refining what I wrote (In fact, it takes a few tries to get the sentence right).
However, there are times when I can’t fix the words. This is when I’ll change the font color of the sentence or phrase that isn’t right. Then, I’ll return to this a few days later with fresh eyes.
So what I’ve learned from all this is that instead of fighting your inner critic, it’s better to embrace it. Get your words right then move on.
3. Try To Make Time
Slow writers have low words per minute (WPM) and words per hour (WPH).
Hence, every extra minute you put into writing counts.
Compared to fast writers, we need to make more time for writing. We need to squeeze as much time as possible into writing.
First, you need to be aware of what is stopping you from writing (television, games, shopping etc.).
Also, do take note of those untouchable times. For me, it’s my meal times, sleeping hours, weekly gym workouts and working hours (I have a full-time job). These times are blocked out so I have to make time for writing around them.
Next, try to get rid of obstacles. I know it’s hard to completely get rid of them. Hence, if you can’t, at least try to limit them. For instance, you can cut down to 1 hour of gaming. You can then write during this extra time you created.
Another way to make time is to tap into your commute time or those times you spend waiting for someone or something. Rather than wasting such times doing nothing, you can try doing writing-related tasks. If writing is impossible to squeeze in during these short times, you could read books about writing, plot your novel or learn from online writing classes like Udemy or CreativeLive (where you can watch streaming broadcasts of free online classes).
You can also create a timetable for the entire week just to see how your usual schedule is like. With this timetable, you can visually see your available time and activities where you can cut down and allocate to writing.
4. Motivate Yourself With A Word Count Tracker
Unlike fast writers who see the light at the end of the tunnel in a few months or even weeks, we take months to years just to see a complete draft. And it takes another few weeks or months to see a polished manuscript.
A word count tracker will thus motivate slow writers like us. It helps to track our writing progress: how many words we’ve written, WPM and WPH. Some trackers include how many words you need to write every day to finish your novel by the end date you specified while some trackers include the estimated completion date based on your current writing speed.
You can download a word count tracker spreadsheet that includes all the formulas. Or you can install a word count tracker app. I use both 🙂
There are also many novel planning worksheets and even writer’s journals on Etsy. These printables are very comprehensive with templates for word count trackers, novel outlines, character profiles, worldbuiling basics and more.
Even if you write 10 minutes every day with an average of 30 words, you would have written 900 words in one month. That’s a big leap towards your goal of finishing your novel! (Although I admit that the measly number is very depressing compared to other writers…)
5. Don’t Compare Your Writing Speed With Other Authors
And this brings us to our next point: Don’t compare your writing speed with other authors.
Everyone writes at a different speed. Some write fast while others write slow. So rather than comparing with another person, why not compare with yourself? Rather than winning others, why not win yourself first?
As the saying goes, “The biggest and only competition is yourself”. If you constantly compare yourself to others, you’ll never be satisfied with your writing speed. You might even become depressed. Hence, don’t fall into the trap of comparing with others. Instead, ask yourself: “Was I better today than I was yesterday?”
“Greatness is a life mission. Being the best is not about being better than anyone else, but striving to be the best that you can be and bringing out the best in others.”
– Dominick Cruz
Remember that word count tracker? As mentioned, the word count tracker can track your writing progress: both how much you’ve written and how fast you’ve written.
Let’s say you write 10 minutes every day. If you usually write 30 words and you gradually increase this to 50 words, that’s improvement! You’re writing more words in the same amount of time. You’re breaking your own record. Keep it up~
Now It’s Your Turn
How do you cope with your slow writing speed? Do you have any tips to share with fellow writers?