My biggest writing accomplishment was writing 20k words in one day.
And it was absolutely epic. I soon began to adore writing fast. Knocking out 20k in a day, a separate 41k in a week, and 100k in a month were some pretty awesome moments.
And in case you want to write that fast, I’m going to share with you exactly how I did it; and perhaps why you shouldn’t.
MadiTips™ for Writing Fast:
Yes. MadiTips™ are a real thing. Just like MadiSpanish™, but that’s a whole ‘nother thing we’ll have to skip.
1. Sprint for a Short Amount of Time
I have a love-hate relationship with them now, but it started out as total love at first sight.
A word sprint is a time block you devote to nothing but writing, usually for as fast as you can. I started with 25-minute sprints, then become fond of 30-minute ones.
Word sprints are helpful for a lot of people because:
- the timer urges you to quit playing around and just write
- you get your words out faster, which makes for…
- the quicker completion of drafts
- and quicker progression of your skills.
I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!
A laser-focused fifteen minutes worth of writing usually proves to be more helpful than an entire hour of half-dabbling-in-writing, half-texting, and probably daydreaming about something else in the mix.
Plus, when you word sprint with friends and compete to see who can get the highest word count, it’s phenomenal fun.
As mentioned above, I wrote 20k words in one day, a separate 41k in a week, and 100k in the same month purely by word sprints. If you want to write faster, word sprints are the #1 way to do it.
You’ve heard me say it before. I’m a die-hard outliner. I even outline all my blog posts. ?
My first few writing sprints were completely pantsed, just like most of my stories in Le Amateur Writing Years™… and they were really hard. I was racking my brain for the first thing I could think of, and the taste of adrenaline was not as thrilling as it is when I’m prepared.
The stories I wrote quickly and with no outline made absolutely no sense.
But then, before I became a full-blown outliner, I began to write a quick sentence or two and later paragraphs of what the scene I was going to write would be about. I didn’t have to freeze up and freak out about what to write next.
I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!
The more detailed my mini-outline was, the faster I could write with the same thrill of adrenaline—yet without stress. It felt completely awesome. That 20k day came no-problemo with my outline right next to me.
Writer’s block got its butt kicked, and my WPM (words per minute) shot through the roof.
Even if you’re not a full-blown outliner, just try jotting down a paragraph of what your next scene will be about. This prevents you from getting stuck during your sprint, and the more outlined it is, the better.
3. Don’t Stop; Just Keep Typing
As closed-minded as I can be, I’m also extremely double-minded. I vary from going “eh, I’ll fix these typos later” to “I HAVE TO FIX THESE RIGHT NOW BEFORE MOVING ON!”
My fastest word sprint was for 30 minutes and I was able to write 2,387 words. The entire time, I didn’t stop. My entire page was filled with typos every other word.
Check it out:
UNwilling to look me in the eyes again, Shomei-ki retunrs ot staring out the window.
“Please, Mr.. Nagaidesu,” I implore. “Ive’g iven you one hundred percentof my hoensty. Now give me one hundred percent of yours. ITALICHow much longer iTALIC?”
Shomei-kie xhales slowly. “Weeks at the leas,” he finally forces out. “Years at the most.”
Because i’ve been accused of such a crime, i’m not allowed to undertake any misisons due to the chanceof excape. I’m onyl permitted to stya at the academy under probationa nd hosue arrest. I’m not allowed tot ake one step outoft if the dojo doors.
Which isn’t a problem. I’ve missed the wooden spikes an dmock samuria figuresof the training cours.e
Yeah, that was the third draft of Loyalty Book I. ? Thanks to word sprints, I was able to complete that massive 120k+ rewrite by knocking out the remaining 41k in ten days. I didn’t stop. I didn’t look back. I just kept going.
Insane, crazy word counts followed. I was finishing projects faster than popping popcorn.
But I wasn’t that happy about it.
MadiProblems™ with Writing That Fast:
Just look at that draft. I can only tell about half of what I intended to say. I may have finished that rewrite in no time at all, but I ended up with the same sloppy mess, both plot and prose-wise.
I just finished the fourth draft of that book a couple of weeks ago. I can’t even recognize it now. I slowed down and took time to actually learn more about the craft of writing and practice applying what I learned to other small projects.
Instead of rushing to just finish just another draft, I took my time and made sure the scenes made sense, the flow was right, and there weren’t any typos going to drive my alpha readers absolutely beserk. I actually did quick edits as I went.
I even did do a few word sprints. While they did get words down on paper, I felt like I was writing rushed trash. Those sections required more editing than the rest.
Quality is more important than quantity. My fourth draft is only 70k, but it’s so much more cohesive than that aimless 125k hunk-of-junk that had absolutely no point.
I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!
I ended up with the best writing of my entire life. Something I’m proud to read and to share. And it feels amazing.
I know, I know. You’re folding your arms and rolling your eyes. “But Madi! You just said that outlining before word sprinting removed your stress.”
It did! A lot of it. But not all.
I love the thrill of adrenaline, the way my heart sledgehammers against my chest, the way my hands sweat and my fingers tremble above the keyboard before the sprint starts. But for this draft, my writing schedule wasn’t like it was when I did those sprints before. Every day, I loathed sitting down to write.
Everything became stressful, especially the writing sprints, even if they did help me make my word count for the day. I wasn’t having any fun.
I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!
The moment writing becomes a chore, you must stop and evaluate the problem.
Trying to have the fastest time and biggest word count put a lot of pressure on me, even when I wasn’t sprinting against anyone else. What helped me write novels faster was becoming too stressful to be enjoyable.
Every draft I write takes up a part of my life. I spent ten months writing my very first novel, and those were some of the most fun moments of my entire fourteen and a half years on planet earth.
Now, I don’t want to get 20k words done in a day. I don’t want those thrilling scenes and juicy character reactions I worked so hard to outline simply whizz by.
Ever since a second root problem about my writing schedule was fixed (more about that in another post), I’ve really enjoyed the actual act of writing again… and I want the draft to last as long as it needs so I can have the time of my life.
I’m begging to be pinned. Just hover over me!
I mentioned this in Why I’m Not Doing NaNoWriMo: I want the thrill of cranking out that organic perfection to last for more than just a few weeks or months.
Writing sprints are a lot of fun, but when they became my sole means of getting stuff done, I sacrificed the experience of letting that draft be a journey instead of a project.
Where I Stand on Writing Faster Now:
I’m sure you’re feeling just a tad confused. My double-mindedness had a lot to say; I love writing sprints! I hate them! No, I love them! No, no, I said I hate them!
But let’s bring those two together.
I still sprint sometimes. For a little while, I was doing the exercises in Chris Fox’s 5,000 Words Per Hour in which I tried to gradually build my WPH without sacrificing quality, but I totally ended up sacrificing quality and getting estimated 5.1k hours instead. ?
But I change up the sprints I do now. I don’t write as fast as I possibly can. I do focus sprints, which is essentially what a word sprint can be.
I don’t worry about trying to barf all over the page. I just shut off all other distractions and write, focused, at a consistent pace—and I actually still write pretty fast, thanks to my outline and the fact that I’m focused on nothing else.
The best part? I haven’t sacrificed the enjoyment and quality of what I write.
That’s where I stand on writing fast. But how do you know if you should write fast? Because I just confused legit everything for you.
K.M. Weiland has this awesome infographic that blows anything I could try to explain away.
No matter how fast you write, it should be right for your and your priorities. If you’re wondering how to write faster, I encourage you to try these tips that helped me knock out insane projects in no time!
- Word sprints
- Outline first
- Don’t stop to fix typos
Just please don’t sacrifice the quality and enjoyment of your work in the process; I had to learn those consequences the hard way.
How fast do you write? Do you wish you could write faster? Why or why not?
Great tips! 😀 And I totally get it about the speed writing cons, a lot of my speed writing posts have ended up in trash! XD
Thanks so much! Haha, yes. XD
This is great! I’m not a particularly fast writer but I can do marathons, i.e. I LITERALLY WRITE FOR AN ENTIRE DAY AND DO NOTHING ELSE. I have found that having a rough idea of where you’re going gives you not only a wayy better story, but also more peace of mind to think about nice prose. For me? I’ll keep writing at the pace I write, cuz it works for me XD
THOSE DAYS SOUND SO EPIC. Sounds like a great pace! XD
😀 Let’s hope I can keep it up for Nano! XD
I already write slower than a turtle, so I’m not going to have that problem for a while. ?
And omg all those typos tho. *falls of chair laughing* I love ‘em. ?
Most crazily, ~Olive
That’s good. XD
Great tips! I’ve never done a word sprint, but I don’t think it’s really my thing. I like to have a first draft that is high quality and doesn’t need a ton of editing. Actually, I submitted a rough draft once and my teacher told me I didn’t really need to change anything. This post is encouraging for writers like me.(slow?)
Same here! Oh my gosh, that’s awesome. ?
YOU WROTE 20K IN A DAY?! :O That’s pretty admirable.
Anyways, thanks for the MadiTips and MadiProblems! I usually enjoy writing slow — I’m a very organized person who hates typos, and for me, slower writing usually leads to better quality. But for Camp NaNo this time, your tips will come in handy, because I’m going to force myself to write at a crazy speed — average 1667 words (with a rough outline) per day even though just 1000 words (without an outline) usually takes me around two hours. XD
IT WAS A VERY INSANE DAY. XD
Ahhh, you can do it! I will be cheering you on. You got this. XD
Amazing post, as usual. ? I think it’s time for me to lower my goal for Camp NaNoWriMo; there’s no humanly possible way for me to get a second draft done that quickly with good quality work. ?
Aww, thanks Julia! Yeahhh, I’ve had to lower my word count goals too. ?
Madi, this was very helpful! I really want to start a novel soon and start outlining and stuff, but I HAVE. ZERO. IDEAS. HALP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks, Emmie! AND DID SOMEONE SAY HELP? ME LOVES TO HELP! HOW CAN ME HELP? 😀
Yw! Ha ha!!
Wow, Madi, this is awesome! I must say, I have never done a word sprint, and I have never worried about word count (probably because my writing was too bad to worry about anyway). But, I definitely appreciate your advice here, and will put it to use when I begin my first draft this late summer/fall.
Thanks so much, Kendall! And eeeeek, I’m so excited for you to begin your first draft later this year!! It’ll be awesome!
Sure!!! Aaahhh me too!!! I hope it will!!! I can’t wait for your reaction when you read it! (cause I’m gonna force you to XD).
YAYYY of course I’ll read it! XD
I write at a pretty fast speed. Sometimes when I have goal I want to write faster, but most of the time I’m happy with my pace. I was wondering if I could beta read or something? Would that be okay?
Same; I’m pretty happy with how my pace is going now! And when I’m done with the fifth draft of my book, I’ll have beta signups — I would LOVE for you to beta read it! 😀
[…] and use it to try and fuel me for getting a lot of writing done for The Triad of Caosdif! Until I read Maddi’s post today, I had been planning on trying to reach 100k words. But now, I think I’m going to aim for 100 […]
I don’t really like how fast I’m going right now because I’m getting basically nothing done, but I’m on your side. You shouldn’t write too fast, because that lowers the quality of your writing, and that’s not cool. Christians shouldn’t settle for crap; they should make their project the best it can be before they put it out there for the world to see. If we don’t, then the world can look at us and say, “If Christians are that kind of crap, I sure don’t wanna be one.” That ruins our testimony and God’s reputation, and that’s not okay. So, up your game until it just won’t go any higher!
““If Christians are that kind of crap, I sure don’t wanna be one.” That ruins our testimony and God’s reputation, and that’s not okay. So, up your game until it just won’t go any higher!” PREACH IT KIRSTYN! ??? I wanna write that down and hang it up in my room.
You do that, Madi! XD
And also, make it a wallpaper so you can have it on your computer. I did that with a cool quote:
“Don’t get the big idea that you’re important, because you’re not. God’s important, and that’s why we praise Him.” –Me
It’s okay to feel accomplished, and it’s okay to feel good about yourself, but I’m afraid that if I get enough subscribers/followers, it’ll make my head get too big and I’ll turn from God and to the world. I now keep that quote as a reminder. 🙂
Oh my gosh, same — I do that with quotes, too! My current background is one of my favorite song lyrics, actually:
And I love that quote! So true. 😀
Yeah… I think I might steal that and put it on my tablet, because… You know, another reminder. What song is that from?
It’s from All I have by NF.
What does NF stand for?
Nathan Feuerstein. He’s my favorite rapper. He’s the #1 artist in the Rap/Hip-Hop genre, and a Christian! But his stage name is simply “NF”. If you search “Nathan Feuerstein” on iTunes, you’ll get his really, really old first stuff from 8 years ago, but “NF” will pull up all his official music.
Oh My Goodness! I’m not a writer, but you make me want to write anyway!
Also your posts are so professional and Amazing, you do a great job! I keep trying to resubscribe but I’m already subscribed! 😀
Awww, M&M, that means the world to me! Thank you so much! :’) ❤️❤️❤️
Gosh I am a slow writer. I write + text + surf the internet + and stare at people’s instagrams + watch videos + yell at my sibs + read blog posts….and by the time the hour is over I’ve written like….3 SENTENCES?! I have started to do some sprints and they really help me. But I realize it in my own writing when I’m starting to get brain block, so I stop, close my word document, and read a post or go outside or eat some junk food. I try to balance fast and slow to make an overall enjoyable experience.
Oh my gosh, that’s how so many of my writing sessions go ? Sprints really help me. Sounds like a great balance! Hehe, eating junk food. >:)
Your posts are so helpful, Madi! Thanks for sharing! <3
Aww, thank you so much, Zielle! That makes me so happy. <3
You’re welcome! <3
Whoa, girl, 20K in a day??? The most I’ve done is like 10K-ish! I don’t think my books are long enough for me to write 20K in a day … 😛 I’d be done too fast. 😉
Okay, not really. Writing faster is definitely something I’d appreciate! Most of the time it doesn’t happen for me except during NaNo for some reason. 😀 I feel like I lose quality when I’m writing slower, to be honest? I overthink it, I druge through it, and none of my *flips hair* natural genius comes through. *ahem*
Okay, not really, but … I feel like I miss something about how words are supposed to sound together when I write slowly. And I also forget what I wrote last. Lots of repetition and restating and other synonyms for repetition. 😉 And just nonsensicalness.
True. I like slowing down and enjoying them better. XD
XDD Wow, sounds like writing faster would be totally great for you, then!
WHEW, this is such a great post that is making me nervous cause I need to go write but I have writers block and I NEED HELP *sobs* maybe i’ll TRY to outline again.. XD
OUTLINEEEE! Outlining is the best! Hey, if you ever have writer’s block, I can always help you brainstorm!
OKKKKKKKK YAAAAY!!! Ooh, would you!!?!? That would be amazing!!! (If you have time)
Of course!! I’d love to help in any way I can!
Yaaaaaay!!! Just email me whenever you can! (No rush) ??
I can’t believe I’m just now seeing this! ? I finally just emailed you — sorry for the delay!
Haha, it’s perfectly fine! No worries!!! ??
And also I really don’t know how to outline very well XD so if you can help it would be nice whenever you can!
Absolutely! I’d love to help, however I can!
Ooh, this was a good post! I’ve gotten better at typing with two hands and at a respectable speed, but I have autocorrect on my side, even then I sometimes have to go back and kill autocorrect typos because if I accidentally type ‘evenn’ it autocorrected to ‘even possible’ like WHAT.
Also, where’s your ‘when your characters fall in love without consulting you first’ meme? I’ve been looking for it instead of, y’know, fixing the giant ‘two characters falling in love without consulting me first’ problem… especially when half the freaking plot was one of those two characters falling in love with someone else entirely…
DUDE THE AUTOCORRECT. Just yesterday I typed “goodnight” and autocorrect was like… “let’s make this ‘Good ughh’ to annoy Madi!” Like how even.
Ohhh that’s on Madi Grace somewhere… I’ll see if I can find the image URL!
YES THAT ONE XD
LOLOL!! Characters control the plot, not the other way around! XD
Wow! Awesome tips Madi! This is super helpful! 🙂
So glad to hear that! Thanks, Caleb!
Gee, Madi…STOP WRITING SO FAST. The most words I’ve ever written in one day is 2000. XD
XDDD Hey, that’s my favorite amount of words to write in a day! You should shoot for it often.