Best Techniques for Hacking Your Writing

Posted by in Prose on Fire

Does this sound familiar? You’re sitting down at your computer ready to write and all you’re doing is staring at a blank screen. We’ve all been there before. You want to write faster, you want to write more often, you want to produce amazing stories. But it isn’t happening.

You’re plagued with one of two major problems: either you can’t think of what to write next, or you’re flooded with so many ideas you just can’t write them fast enough.

Trust me, I know how frustrating this can be. I’ve been there, I know exactly how you feel, and thankfully it doesn’t have to be this way.

Both situations have an answer which I want to share with you today.

Before I get to the answers, though, I want you to understand exactly what the root of this problem is so you can fix it for good.

Writing can be seen as an intangible art. We can make up excuses for why we’re not writing like, the Muse wasn’t there today or I need to be in the creative mood. This kind of thinking dismisses the need to develop a process that can be duplicated in each writing session, a plan that helps you max out your time when you sit down to write.

By ignoring pre-production work on your story and failing to optimize your writing time, you’ll continue to be trapped in this root problem that so many writers face. I know because I was there. Looking back, I realize I didn’t have a detailed system in place that would allow me to produce great writing at the high speeds I demanded.

I’m not sure when I first wanted to become a full-time author, but by 2009 I had set my sights on that goal. I knew it wasn’t an easy goal to accomplish (worthwhile goals seldom are). I also knew that if I wanted to be achieve this goal, I needed to write as much as I could as fast as I could.

But writing fast just wasn’t my thing. In 2009 I barely wrote 900 words an hour, and I knew that wouldn’t cut it. I experimented with other methods of writing. One of these ideas I kept reading and hearing about was outlining my stories. (A quick side note, there are a lot of writing methods out there. The one I’m sharing with you gave me my breakthrough, and it might be perfect for you too).

So I sat down and wrote an outline. I saw a decent rise in my word count. I consistently wrote 1600 words an hour. But I still had those moments where I’d stare at the computer screen unsure where to take my story. I had my outline, but it seemed to be missing something. And if I couldn’t find that missing piece I’d never reach my goal.

I continued trying and searching.

Then I learned about beats.

If you haven’t heard about beats, the basic idea is taking your simple chapter outline and expanding it to several paragraphs. Beats explain the action, the characters involved, the goals, the conflicts, the setting, and much more. Here’s an example of what beats could look like for Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone:

First, you’d have your sentence from your outline:

Harry Potter goes with his new friend Hagrid to buy his supplies for wizard school and learns that people know him.

Second, take that sentence and expand it into several paragraphs explaining in detail what is happening.

The giant Hagrid takes Harry Potter to Diagon Alley. This is the place where wizards and witches come to do their shopping. It’s hidden in the back of a small pub called the Leaky Cauldron.

He meets an arrogant boy while shopping for his school clothes. It’s the first time he sees that life in the wizarding world has the same type of bullies from his own world.

While Harry is shopping with Hagrid he keeps bumping into people that know his name but he doesn’t know them at all. This brings an element of mystery into Harry’s mind.

The entire visit to Diagon Alley adds more setting and mood to the story as Harry is in awe and wonder at each of the shops he visits.

You could continue to expand the beats, including basic dialogue or the actions taking place in each of the shops. The more detail you can add into your beats, the faster you’ll be able to expand them into a full first draft.

Adding beats to my outline pushed my writing to over 2000 words an hour, which was great! But I had this fear that writing faster could make my writing worse. When I really sat down to look at the progress, though,  I realized that writing quickly from beats was making my stories better. If you want to see exactly how this happened, you can read my article about beating writer’s block: http://thewritelife.com/how-to-write-a-novel-beat-writers-block/

I’m sure you’ve heard that old saying, write what you know; well I want to change it to, know what you write.

Beats allowed me to gain a full grasp of the story I was creating, and helped me write better stories, faster. Most importantly, beats took my writing to the professional level and changed my life forever. Just to show you the data:

From 2009-2013, I published about one book per year.

In 2014, when I’d mastered using beats, I published eight books and one short story.

In 2015, I published nine more books. And the best part? I realized my dream of becoming a full-time author.

Beats are awesome and I want you to put them to work in your stories. I couldn’t have fulfilled my dream without beats, but they are just one part to my success. Another crucial piece was optimizing my writing.

When I first noticed I could consistently write over 2000 words an hour without decreasing my story quality, I tested just how high I could raise my word count. To do that I needed to optimize my writing time. I used the Pomodoro Method. Using The Pomodoro Method, you work for a concentrated 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break.

Just using this method increased my hourly word count, but I knew I could do better. I wanted more data about exactly what led to my most productive writing sessions.

I created a way to track my efforts; recording the date, start time, stop time, location and word count. It might sound tedious, but having the data allowed me to optimize my writing. I learned when and where to get the highest word counts, and found situations to avoid all together. I’ve created a special bundle so you can use the exact same tools to supercharge your writing: http://proseonfire.com/tracking

Once I optimized my writing time, I could achieve consistently over 3400 words per hour – some days I could even attain 4000 words per hour! And I wasn’t churning out nonsense, either. Remember pre-production element from before?  My writing was better than ever because I had created outlines, detailed beats, and combined them with story structure that hooked readers from page one (which became the basis for my best-selling book Nail Your Story).

Now that I’ve given you a look into how I changed my life writer’s life, I have one question for you: Are you ready to take your writing to the next level?

Step #1: Grab Your Free Nail Your Story Worksheets

Sign up here to receive EVERY worksheet created for The Smarter Storytelling Framework, plus an abbreviated breakdown of the Smarter Storytelling Framework so you can complete the worksheets.

The Smarter Storytelling Framework resources bundle »

Step #2: Read Nail Your Story

Get Nail Your Story. It’s available on Amazon, and considering how much awesomeness you’re going to gain from it, it’s an easy investment in your writing education.

But don’t just take my word for it:

“EXACTLY what’s been missing from my toolbox. Once again Monica Leonelle has outdone herself!”

~ Sable Jordan, author of the Kizzie Baldwin thriller series

Another phenomenal timesaving tool for writers… Monica offers the clearest explanation I’ve ever read for how to narrow down your theme.

~Emma Alisyn, author of the Mates of the Fae series

I’ve been spinning my wheels trying to take the next step in my craft…Monica Leonelle finally made something click in my brain.

~M.A. Brotherton, author of The Seven Keys Saga

I go back to this book every time I start a new novel to help nail my story, get it started, and keep it going to the finish line.

~Angela Smith, author of Fatal Snag and Burn on the Western Slope

I’ve read many books on outlining, plotting, and pre-planning stories. This book incorporates the best qualities of them all. Save yourself the time and just read this one.

~ Carl Waters, author of the Merlin’s Hoods Series

Buy Now on Kindle | Buy Now on Audible

Step #3: Go Deep Into Story Structure The Outlining Challenge

And if you’re ready to put The Smarter Storytelling Framework and the 4-Part Story Structure to work in your writing then I have a challenge for you. I call it the Outlining Challenge… which is the obvious next step if you’re ready to apply these two great storytelling tools to improve your current work-in-progress. The Outlining Challenge is “writing phase-agnostic” — which means you can take the Outlining Challenge whether you’re just starting your outline, struggling with your draft, or even if you’re in an endless cycle of edits!

You can learn more about the Outlining Challenge here:

http://proseonfire.com/outlining-challenge

You can sign up for the Outlining Challenge here:

Á la carte: https://learn.proseonfire.com/product/outlining-challenge/

You can also get the Outlining Challenge and the rest of Monica’s challenges, courses, and advanced trainings, plus access to her private mastermind group in the VIP Igniters:

VIP Igniters full year: https://learn.proseonfire.com/product/vip-igniters/

VIP Igniters payment plan: https://learn.proseonfire.com/product/vip-igniters-payment-plan/

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