Tip of the Day: Quick Trick for Writing Fast - Julie Kenner/J.K. Beck

Today's Tip: Quick Trick for Writing Fast

Post-it Note image
My secret writing weapon!
I posted the other day about time management, and one of the reasons that managing your time is so important is so that you can put chunks of time into a “savings account” during which you can do your work. For me, this means being efficient at the house and school stuff so that I have a large chunk of writing time.

Intentions, however, do not always equal practice, and sometimes those large chunks come in 15 minute spurts. Maybe an hour (ah, the glorious days when there’s an hour of uninterrupted writing time!)

So how do you make those spurts count? First of all, planning is important, and I’ll blog more about that later. But let’s say that you do have some idea of what you want to write. You just need to get those words down on actual paper.

One word: Plastic.

Okay, not really (who got the joke? come on, you can admit it….)

One word (really): Post-it Notes.

That one, I’m not kidding about.

My secret writing weapon is Post-it Notes.

How, you ask? Do I keep snippets of dialogue on Post-its throughout the day? Tidbits of plot points? Fascinating reversals and character insight? Well, actually, sometimes I do. But that’s not the tip I’m talking about here today.

I’m talking blank Post-its. And I’m completely serious.

As Nora Roberts has said (and others, I’m sure), you can’t edit a blank page. Sometimes, you need to burn through the page count. (And, frankly, I’ve been amazed at the quality of work when you write fast; your internal editor turns off, you get lost in the story, and some true gems end up on the paper).

So what do you do?

Figure out what your page goal for the day is. Let’s say that you need to write 1500 word today. Now break that 1500 up into reasonable chunks. 250 words is the equivalent of one page (courier, 25 lines/page). So we’ll use that number. (I’ve done this with 10,000 word days, and I used 1000 word chunks, but don’t try that without a net! Actually, my ideal is 2500 or 3000/day. That’s a nice sweet spot for balancing writing and life.)

Anyway, here’s the trick. Put Post-it notes on your wall, around the edge of your computer monitor, on the door of your study. Wherever works for you. Each Post-it represents a chunk (here, 250 words). Sit at your desk and type, type, type like the wind!

When you stop, see how many words you’ve written and yank off that many Post-it Notes. As you see the line-up of little Post-its go down over the course of the day, you’ll become more and more motivated, and I bet that the next chunk of time you grab will be even more productive because you’re tricking your brain into sliding into competitive mode (or not tricking–you’re competing with your unproductive self!).

By the end of the day, I’ll bet you’ve ripped off all those Post-its! Next day, add one more Post-it past your goal. Inch your goal up daily until you find your sweet spot.

Congrats! You’re writing faster! (Ideally, you’ll keep that forward motion. Once the draft is done, then you go back and edit. Tips for editing … and more tips for writing fast … coming later.)

Have you tried the trick? How did you do? What’s your tip for writing fast?


Veronika Walker

Wow, what agreat idea! I can see how this would definitely help me…I’m not normally competitive, but I appreciate kick-in-the-pants methods. Terrific idea!


This is on my “To Do” list…..will give this a try! I’ll report to you after a week & here is hoping it works for me! Triplets, married, working=need writing time management tools that work!


Oh, definitely report back! It worked like a charm for my crit partner and other folks I’ve told it about. More tips coming next week, too!

Adriana Ryan

Wow, I love this idea! Sort of like crossing out a date on a calendar, but much more visible and in-your-face. Very cool. Totally going to try. Thank you! 😀

Liv Rancourt

Maybe you could do it with Hershey’s Kisses. Figure one kiss for every 250 words, and when you move all the kisses from one side of the laptop to the other, then you get to eat them.


ha!!! I love that idea…. Of course, on a day when you need to really crank through the pages, the calorie count will skyrocket 🙂 But there’s all that research that says that dark chocolate is good for you….


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