I was never going to write this article because I’m genuinely afraid that writers will read this and either become discouraged or try and write at a pace or level they can’t.
If you’ve read any of my articles on writing, then you know that sustainability is something that I’m constantly reminding authors about. Don’t push your creativity to the max and burn out or end up turning away from your craft.
I’ve been writing every day for ten years and have been working professionally at it for five. I didn’t get here overnight. It took a lot of work, a lot of failures, and a lot of not having any idea what I was doing. So, I’ll try and make it so that my advice is centered around my experience while also giving people an idea of how to get here.
The Idea Process
Story ideas come to me pretty easily. I’m a bit of a wellspring of ideas. But this is how I got there and how my ideas come to me.
- I use other articles as inspiration and starting points.
-This also helps with my stats since it’s easier for readers to move seamlessly from one of my articles about, let’s say, characters to all of my other articles about characters.
- I outline my ideas instead of just writing them down. A lot of writers will simply put their idea for an article down, but if I can’t come up with an outline for an article idea, then I leave it as just that, an idea and don’t work on it.
- Once my idea is outlined and fleshed out, I put it on the page with 5–10 potential titles.
-A double advantage of doing this think-through of my ideas before just shitting them out is by the time I get to the writing of the article, it’s all there waiting for me.
- I do idea generation exercises weekly where I write 10 story ideas—I rarely write these, I just use it as a way to create ideas and keep my muscles strong.
The Writing Process
This is the juice. The crank. This is what you came for, I’m guessing. How do I write 6 articles in 4 hours? Here it is:
- Since I’ve been thinking about the article for days before hitting the keyboard, the words come rushing out.
- With my experience as a writer for various publications, businesses, and authors, I’ve become a very fast typer averaging 1,500-words of clean copy every 40-mins.
- I write for lots of different publications and platforms off of Medium so when I have to cut or scrap work from other jobs, I repurpose and rewrite it for Medium.
- Flow states are awesome! I’m a 25 min work and 5 min rest period person. It’s helped me break up my hours and work into manageable chunks. But I only use it when I really need to because I like to spend my writing mornings getting high and letting the words fly not paying attention to time.
- During my writing mornings, I turn on a website and app blocker that keeps me off the time stealing apps and sites.
- When I’m writing, I just write. Like I’ve said, I’ve been doing this for years, so my copy comes out pretty clean the first go around, but I still save my editing passes for a separate day.
- I write short, small, and ugly the first time. When I say ugly, I don’t mean bad, I just don’t worry as much about punctuation or researching or any of that stuff. I aim for my first drafts to be no longer than 3–5 mins. That way when I come back in for the editing, I have room to add stuff.
- I don’t use all the articles or stories I write solely on Medium. No one should. Some of the articles I use on Medium, but a majority of them I use as beginning drafts for articles that I pitch to professional magazines that pay, use them for my writing craft books, newsletters, personal blog, etc.
- I know what 6 articles I’m going to write days before I write and they are all outlined on the page and I’ve been developing and adding additions throughout the week
This is what makes the above possible.
- Every single day for 10 years is how long I’ve been writing. EVERYDAY.
-I know, I know I always say writers don’t need to write every day, but I mean writers shouldn’t write every day for Medium because the site is exploiting you and your work. Writers should be writing every day off of the site whether that be small poems, journal entries, or some other exercise of expression and/or craft.
- I’ve been writing deliberately for 5 years, meaning I’ve been working on my craft actively through master studies and classes every day for 5 years.
- Writing is my job. It’s all I do. I don’t have kids or another career or outside obligations that detract from my career as a writer. Writing is my lifeblood, my career, and my vocation.
- I used to work in retail for upwards of 60+ hours a week. Sometimes I worked two jobs while taking classes without any days off. During this time I didn’t give up on writing but got up early before work when I had more creativity energy (and energy in general) and would write for 4 hours before walking to work.
- Working in retail also taught me how to write anywhere and focus my thoughts.
- I’m an early riser by nature and find that time to be my most productive, so on my writing days (Saturday & Sunday) when my partner sleeps in late, I get up between 3–4 am and write until about 9 am, taking breaks for food, fun, and exercise.
Tools are important for a writer, and I wouldn’t be anywhere without my trusted sidekicks:
- AlphaSmart 3000
- 99 cent composition notebooks
- Voice recorder
- Medium site draft feature
Why I Write This
Beginning and struggling writer, David Marjister, who is working on figuring out the craft, his path, and his own writing asked me to break it down. No doubt, it might offer a challenge for some wayward writers like him, struggling to find their way. But those are the same writers who will gloss over the years of work I did to get here and try it hot out the gate, only to fail and break themselves.
Worse yet are the ones who will be able to write 6 articles in 4 hours and think they are the next best thing. Those writers are just kids playing around in a car who realized to make it go fast all they have to do is press forward. Not only a danger to themselves but to others as they run over writing advice to shout their own nonsense.
I’m less worried about those types of writers than I am for the writers this article will discourage. My aim is to encourage writers and not discourage them. Following my writing schedule will most likely not deliver the same results for every writer. It will also take time to get to this level. I’ve had a two-day writing routine for years and know myself, my craft, and my career.
I caution writers not to try and write like me unless they’ve had the same training and life as me. Not everyone has a full-time writing life. Or an understanding partner that supports their focus on their craft and work. Everyone’s processes and life are different. The way people write is different.
Find what works for you and not someone else.
I can work the way I do because I’m a prolific author. On Medium alone, I’ve published over 130 stories in 4 months. I was able to do that because I built an enormous back catalog of work before I even started publishing on the platform. How enormous? I’m sitting on about 250 pieces written in the last couple of years. Combine my work off of the platform, and I’ve published close to 300 stories in the past 5 months.
When I made the decision to be a writer as a career I set very high expectations for what I would be able to write and publish. I wanted to be a writer who published every month, every year, more and more, crafting new experiences and stories for their readers. I put restraints on myself at the beginning, used deliberate practice like prayer, and sacrificed friends, once-in-a-lifetime moments, and more for writing.
In fact, I still do.
Can and will you? That will determine if you can write like me or like anyone else.