We all want a way to make writing easier, faster, and better, right? I know I’d love a few writing hacks myself, which is why I scoured the internet for the best ones to share with you. Whether you’re writing your first novel or your twentieth, anything to make the process a bit more streamlined is welcome. Here are my best writing hacks.
Just Do It
Like the Nike tagline, just do it. Don’t hem and haw. Don’t wait until the laundry is done. Don’t delay until you’ve got everything worked out perfectly. Just start writing.
That probably sounds like self-evident advice, but sometimes it does help to read it and internalize it. I know that for me, I can’t hear it enough. My default setting is to think of everything on my to-do list and push writing down to the very bottom of it (unless I’m really in the flow). For some reason, I often feel like I have to clear my schedule before I get going. You know what? That holds me back. Don’t fall into the same trap!
If you have thirty minutes a day, write for thirty minutes a day. Your desk doesn’t have to be dusted first. You don’t even have to brush your hair. Just write.
Write, Don’t Edit
Another important piece of advice—especially if you want to finish a book or something long—is to write when it’s time to write and edit when it’s time to edit. In other words, while you’re in the creating state, create. Once you have the words on the page, that’s the time to edit. Editing and writing use different parts of your brain. Writing is the creative. Editing is the analytical. Sometimes when you mix them, you let your analytical brain do the talking, which can lead to paralyzing your creative side. The idea is that you want to move forward in your plot and not get stuck on the best way to phrase a sentence you’ve already rewritten three times.
On a personal note, I’ve tried this advice in the past, but I think I took it too literally. I was obsessed with writing new material every day, and in order to get on with it, I didn’t look back at what I’d written the day before. This was a mistake because sometimes I didn’t remember perfectly what I’d already written, and then the tone was off or I repeated myself. My amended advice here would be to not get into the editing weeds, but to occasionally look back and remember what you wrote. If you see something obvious that needs to be fixed, do it. However, keep in mind your ultimate goal, which is finishing a first draft.
Set a Deadline
If you don’t have a book deal or a self-publishing schedule yet, setting an arbitrary deadline can feel, well, arbitrary. However, it shouldn’t be. The more you write and the more books you complete, the more chances you’ll have to put your work out there. Come up with a reasonable amount of time (say three months, six months, or even a year), and then work to hit that goal.
Sound stressful? Good. The point of a deadline is to create a bit of healthy stress that will motivate you to get your butt in the writing chair on a regular basis. It also will help you write with intention. Your intention is the finish the book, and in order to do so, you’ll need to write a certain amount each week or each day. The more your task feels urgent, the more likely you are to do it.
The truth about writing hacks is that nothing will make it truly easy. You’re pushing your brain and pushing is by definition uncomfortable. However, there are ways to streamline the process, and just doing it, writing not editing, and creating deadlines are writing hacks that work. Good luck!