Want to Be Prolific? A How-To On Writing ALL THE WORDS

See full issue for 2016 08-15

I write a lot. I don’t mean that in terms of time spent writing, because I don’t write every day and I don’t have word count goals or anything like that. I mean, I produce a lot of work quickly. Recently I started writing under a pen name as well, but that is a story we’ll save for another Miller Time.

Over the past few years, I’ve published about twelve novels, a short story collection, and a handful of short pieces, which averages out to publishing about three or four novels and one or two short stories a year. In between the publishing, I’ve written and edited work that isn’t published. I have about seven finished but not yet edited novels set aside, and probably 20 to 30 short stories. I tried to figure out how many novels I write each year, and I’d guess I have about five or six rough drafts (novels) completed in a 12-month period, and probably a dozen or more short stories. They’re not all worth publishing, of course, but they’re there, collecting dust on my hard drive.

In between the writing, I have a full time day job, I promote my work and that of the authors of Deviant Dolls Publications, and I write articles, like this, a few times a month, and I have to mother and housewife from time to time so no one calls the authorities on me.

How do I do it? This is a question I’m asked all the time. I wrote Mind F^^k’s first draft in 9 days. Wrote another draft in 14 days. Usually it takes me about two months to finish a draft. Those two weeks or less books were exceptions. But that’s not important. As I tried to answer this how do I do it question, I realized it’s not really that amazing. Not even impressive. First, I get up early, stay up late, and second, I follow a few “rules” that help keep the words flowing:

No whining

Seriously, feeling sorry for yourself is a huge killer of productivity. Feeling like you can’t do it or the world is against you, or you’re not getting what you so richly deserve (come on, really?) no matter what you do is just holding you back.

Suck it up. Get rid of the negativity, because it’s self-destructive and annoying. Just sit down and write.

Don’t wait for motivation.

Or inspiration. Whatever you call it, the key to generating a lot of writing is feeling like doing it. However, you can’t wait for an idea to come or for that strange writerly feeling to wash over you. You just write. For me, it’s a matter of forcing myself to not be a lazy piece of shit. When given the option, I’ll log into Netflix or CraveTV and binge watch HBO shows and old movies I’ve seen a hundred times. Why? Because I can. Now, I force myself not to turn on the television until after dinner. It’s kind of like my reward for being a good little writer. And I have tons of inspiration. There’s a file marked “ideas” on my computer, which I avoid like the plague when I have things to finish or other obligations that aren’t related to writing, because once I get in there, something always grabs me and the old muse starts screaming at me to get it done.

Be selfish.

First rule of the prolific writer: Your time is just as valuable as everyone else’s. So are your wants and needs. If you want to write, do it. Don’t feel guilty for indulging something that makes you happy.

Second, don’t write about shit you don’t care about because you’ve been told it sells books. Nothing kills motivation faster than boredom. Who cares what “sells?” No one can ever truly know what the readers want. Write about the characters, worlds, themes, etc. that interest YOU. Amuse yourself first. Your story will be better and you’ll be more inclined to keep writing. For example, I was told, once upon a time, that sex and weirdness would never sell. Oh, and once I was told that horror is not “my thing” so I should focus my efforts elsewhere. Someone else told me comedy and horror made terrible partners.

I love the sex and weirdness, though. I like characters that give people the heebs. I like scenes that make a reader scratch her head. I love dark, dark elements and comedy. So, that’s what I write. I combine my love of horror and comedy, and I embrace everything weird and uncomfortable, including the sex. Does it always work out? Hell no. Sometimes it’s a disaster. But I love every second of it and never have to force a single word.

When the work is done, then I focus on marketing it so it sells.

Don’t beat yourself up

Word count goals, writing goals, blah, blah, blah. Writing something every day is a good practice, but it’s not something that works for all of us. If you’re having a hard time producing anything, then remove the restrictions you’ve placed on your writing and stop being so hard on yourself. Take a day off. Take three days. Whatever. Write for a solid ten hours, then ignore it for a week. Whatever keeps the words flowing, do that.

I write in bursts. By that I mean, I do the things I have to do, like work and clean toilets, and when I have time to write, I go all out. Ten thousand words here, five thousand there. I might write from sun-up to sundown for three days, and then not write again for a week or two, but that’s okay. What I produce in those bursts is enough. I don’t nag myself about it. I just write when I can or as much as my life will allow. You’d be surprised how much story you save up in those days you’re doing “other things” and how easily you get it all on the page.

Question everything

Let’s go back to inspiration for a second, because it’s pretty important to prolific writing. (for the record, I don’t believe in writer’s block) Most of my ideas are the result of asking questions. See a news story that interests you? Ask yourself why, how, or what if? Got a belief or an argument that you can’t seem to let go of? Again, ask questions. Why do you (or they) believe this thing? What’s the point of it? What if you (or they) believed the opposite? Why is Pokemon Go so addictive? Is it really an innocent game, or has the government or an enemy government finally found a way to screw us all? (Oh. My. Shit.) Who decided pizza must have cheese? That person deserves an award. Why do dogs have to roll in their own shit? Do PopTarts contain crack? Why do I keep breaking my bed frames?

Oh, sorry. That last one is only suited to erotica writers, I suppose… or horror.

Anyway, my point is, you should be constantly asking questions. Even of yourself. This keeps the ideas and the inspiration flowing. Try it.

Editing is NOT ALWAYS bad.

I usually read through and edit whatever I’ve written previously before I write anything new. So, if I wrote two chapters three days ago, I read all of that to get my bearings, and I let myself edit as I read. No big deal. Sometimes editing what we’ve written, although only a short section, gives us new ideas or helps resolve a plot issue that’s been nagging us as we write. Once you start on the new writing, though, kick the editor out. She’s only going to slow you down.

I know you’re told not to do this, but (here’s the question thing again) why? We all have a different process. Editing as you go isn’t bad for everyone. If you have the urge to fix something, then it’s probably wise to just do it and move on.

Learn to type fast.

I see your doubting face over there. This is probably the biggest (and easiest to master) secret to prolific writing. Imagine being able to type/write as fast as the words move through your brain. I can type 70 to 100 words a minute. Sometimes I type faster (when I’m in the zone) and sometimes slower (when my poor old fingers are tired). I wasn’t naturally “good” at typing either. Hunt and peck queen right here. I learned to type properly, and I practiced to improve my speed with typing tutors and such. The reason I did this was because I got frustrated that my ideas moved faster than I could record them, and then I’d lose the inspiration, because I was so pissed at myself.

So, I learned to type fast and the word counts skyrocketed. Simple as that.

Start believing in yourself

I think this is the most important thing to remember here. Some of us are meant to write lots and some of us aren’t. If you change your process a thousand times, a few of you will simply write what you write and that will never change. There’s nothing wrong with publishing a book a year, or one every two years. If that’s what works for you, great. If you can write several books in a few months, awesome.

Stop listening to what others think you should be or should do and just enjoy the process. I think you’ll find that even if you don’t make huge leaps in productivity, you’ll see a spike in the number of words you hammer out in a sitting.

Now, I have to get back to work so I can watch a bit of Grimm later.


Renee Miller

Visit Renee Miller‘s website.

Contact Us    Visit the original Underground
Quality reviews of independent literature from 2011 - 2018