I’ve listened to a couple of podcast interviews with Rachel Aaron, and so I’d heard about her book 2k to 10k on how to increase your writing speed. Efficiency is something that’s always important, and I figured if this book could help it was worth a look.
Of note, this book isn’t just about increasing writing speed. The first part of it focuses on that, and it’s also a recurring theme when Aaron talks about pre-writing and how that can speed up the process. But this really is more of a guide that shows the entirety of Aaron’s process from inception to finished edit with a few tips for newer writers thrown in at the end.
There’s a lot of good information in this little manual, but I wanted to outline five specific things that jumped out at me.
1.) Have a Plan
“Know What You’re Writing Before You Write It”
This is probably the most important aspect of the speed writing section of the book. Aaron speaks about how she sketches out her scenes before she gets into the actual meat of writing the first drafts.
I found this to be helpful, and it’s something that I had slowly started to implement more in my own writing. When writing Nine Tails and several of my other past stories I had very loose scene sketches where I only wrote down one or two plot-related things that had to happen. Putting more detail into the scene descriptions definitely helps generate more writing momentum, and I’m going to make sure I spend more time doing it moving forward.
If you don’t already do this, I highly recommend it.
2.) Have Fun
“If you are not enjoying your writing, you’re doing it wrong.”
This sounds cheesy, but Aaron raises a really great point: if you don’t enjoy the scene you’re writing, your reader probably won’t either. On top of that, if you’re having fun, you’ll write much faster and find it easier to hit that flow state.
If you’re having a lot of trouble motivating yourself to write a scene, then you should either find a way to add more elements that make it fun or consider just cutting it entirely and replacing it with something more entertaining.
I know there are a lot of scenes I’ve struggled writing in the past, largely I think because I didn’t have a clear enough idea of what was supposed to happen in them. Moving forward, if I find myself in this position, I will definitely be working on ways to both flesh these scenes out in my head and make them more fun.
3.) Get More Out of Your Scenes
“I’d been using my three scene requirements — advance the story, reveal new information, and pull the reader forward — for a long time. Now, though, I started asking ‘What else can this scene do?'”
As I mentioned, only the first section of the book really covers Aaron’s methodology for writing faster, but there’s a lot of good information in the later stages as well.
Trying to fit more into a scene is something she mentions and something that I think is important as well. I’ve noticed recently that I often think about my scenes in singular ways and only really consider how they will advance one plot line or one character arc. Seeing how much I can get out of my scenes is something I’m thinking about a lot more as I plan stories.
For example, I’m currently working on a story that has a lot of superhero elements, and so I need it to be clear that my protagonist has heroic potential even before he develops any powers. I had been trying to think of one big scene that showcased his kindness, courage, etc., but what I found is that I have a lot of early scenes that give the reader insight to his life, and finding ways to add small examples of his “heroic nature” to these moments was much more natural and much more effective.
4.) Not every idea is worth pursuing
“One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn as a writer is that while virtually any story can be a good book if done correctly, not every story should. It’s possible to have an amazing idea and still lack the interest necessary to polish it to publication level shine.”
This is something that resonated strongly with me. I have a lot of ideas for stories; I’m sure most of you reading this do as well. But there are a lot of stories, even short ones, that I’ve sat down to write and gotten nowhere on because as cool as the idea was, I just had no real passion for it.
I’m trying more to really pick out stories to work on that I have a strong sense of in terms of how all the characters will fit and what the plot is rather than chasing ideas that might be cool.
5.) Change Your Editing Mindset
“You’re not just writing a story anymore. You are crafting an experience that you are going to share with each person who picks up your book. It is your job to make sure your story decisions and world work not just within the context of the novel, but within the mind of the reader.”
Another really great point. I think a lot of writers, myself included, feel like editing is the drudgery at the end of the process. Personally I find it boring because I feel like I’ve already written the book, so while I don’t necessarily mind editing other people’s work, I find it hard to dive back into a story I’ve completed.
But maybe thinking about the process as “crafting an experience” rather than performing a task will help. Certainly this is something I’ll try to consider when I get around to the editing process on my next story.
I found Aaron’s book to be a really well assembled and succinct look at one author’s process. I think there’s a lot that you can learn from reading this, even if you don’t adopt all of her techniques.
It’s a quick read, and if you are a writer or are interested in becoming one, I think it’s well worth a look. There are some things in here that you probably already know or do without thinking about it, but I picked up some new things, and even just seeing another writer’s process laid out so cleanly was helpful in terms of thinking about my own approach.
I certainly enjoyed it and will be employing some of the techniques she suggests in my own work, and there’s even more useful information in the book than the takeaways I’m show here. These are just the five things that I found to be especially useful or interesting.
You can find a copy of 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love on the Kindle Store.
But what do you think? Have you read the book? If so, what are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading!