This is a post for people like me who write their first drafts in pen.
Back in the day I used to write my first drafts on the computer, but I’ve found as I got older that I like it more in pen. I find it easier to control the chapter or segment that I’m writing.
I’m talking about writing fast in these posts, and I appreciate that some of you might just be typing straight into a laptop or tablet. More power to you. You’re probably getting things done faster than I currently am.
But for now I’m a pen or notepad kind of guy and for now I’m happy with that, and so this is a post (on a blog that people will read on their computers and phones over the internet) which is for analogue-minded people like me.
So, I had my pen and notepad and I’d written in just over a month a draft of a new novel. The first new novel I’d got to the end of in any form for years. I was proud of myself, proud to have this accomplishment that had largely been pulled off on train journeys and in lunchtimes.
There was a problem though.
How the bloody hell was I going to get this book out of this notepad and onto a computer? Onto a computer where it could be rewritten and edited and proofed and finally find its way onto Amazon?
I couldn’t just type it up in the evenings or on weekend afternoons, I’d never get it done fast enough.
There was no point learning to write fast if I was going to hit a logjam like this.
It was a problem, but one I was determined to overcome. It just required more investment of time and some investment of money too.
Knowing I couldn’t write as fast as I wanted at home, I invested in a laptop bag, one that would allow me to lug my computer around with me. That I could have the option in the day to start it up anywhere and start typing.
My first thought was that I’d be one of those people balancing a laptop on my lap on the train, but such is the length of my commute it wouldn’t make sense to go through the process of starting up the computer, opening Word and starting to type. Unlike in the films it doesn’t just come on in an instant and so I’d lose too much time waiting for it to fire up. No, the commute was better spent with my notepad, which I could open immediately and make swift progress on.
Instead I took my computer and each lunchtime went to the nearest coffee shop (a Prêt à Manger, if you’re interested) where I bought myself a soft drink and typed as furiously as I could. It’s taken a while to get my speed up, but in the forty-five minutes I have down there I can generally get to just over 1500 words, that combined with another 500-750 words in the evening means I can get over 2000 words a day.
A Prêt, yesterday.
That’s 2000 words a day, pretty much everyday (I have been known to give myself Friday lunchtimes off, we’re eventually going to have to talk about when you’re pushing yourself too hard). 2000 words a day on the weekdays, combined with whatever I can do at the weekends (on a good burst, 5000 words plus) means I can frequently hit 15,000 words a week. If I’m writing a short novel, I can get the whole thing typed up in a month. Even an epic tale won’t take me much more than two months.
If you can get fast with your fingers then even an extra hour or so stolen back from your day can get you a huge way to making your dream of the book a reality. If you can have your computer or tablet with you, so you can get down to work when the chance arises, then before long a real and substantial book will be created beneath your fingertips.
Next week, how to live and breathe the book to make it the best product possible.
Fancy some free dark fiction? My excellent (if I do say so myself) collection of short stories, ‘Something Went Wrong & Other Strange Tales’ is available now!