When I started writing my “first official novel”, I had a full time job that took up most of my day. I spent more time daydreaming about this novel than I actually spent writing it, and when I did write it, it was for thirty minutes here and there before I went to bed. It took me nine months to complete that first draft and the inconsistencies were hilarious. My main character’s mom had three different names and eye colors seemingly changed quicker than the Horse of a Different Color.*
And those were the easy fixes.
Now that I have a few dozen manuscripts written, I go about things much differently. I write fast. I use an outline and I write at least 5000 words a day, always finishing the first draft within 30 days. You might think the manuscript would suffer in quality from being written quickly, but it’s actually quite the opposite.
Something magical happens when you spend 3-4 hours a day–every single day–in your fictional world. You never leave the story. Your mind stays with the characters in such a way that they seem to pause when you stop writing for the day, and when you come back to it the next day, you still remember what you were writing. You can put your fingers to the keyboard and the characters hit play in your imagination, and start living the story again.
You’re still in your setting, still in the mood, still feeling the tone of the story. Your character’s motivations and emotions are still churning in your mind and you can keep up the same vibe for each chapter.
Nuances stick with you that you would otherwise forget. That side character has a smudge of motor oil on his shirt, and you’ll remember to have someone comment on it it when he speaks next. Your MC is starting to get a headache and in the next chapter, you’ll be able to note that it’s only getting worse. Little things in your story’s surroundings will come out naturally as you write because they’re still fresh. These things aren’t in your outline, but they give the story a pulse.
Writing fast means you never have to go back over what you’ve already written to reorient yourself with the story. When I used to write slowly, it would take me at least 45 minutes of reading back over my MS to remember what exactly was going on. Total waste of time. If you step away from your story for a week or so it’s even worse when you go back to it. You’ve forgotten everything, and it’ll show in your writing.
There is certainly no perfect writing formula for everyone, and I always encourage writers to do what works for them. But I also encourage you to try something new. So if you’re a slow writer, try writing fast. Don’t overthink it. Just do it.
*Do ya’ll know what that is, or am I dating myself?