Four Quick Tips For Writing Fast

2017 Artwork Tips For Faster Writing

Well, since I was in a slight rush when I started writing this article, I thought that I’d give you a few tips about how to write fast. Most of these tips will work regardless of whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, but there are some slight differences.

So, let’s get started.

1) Practice your typing (or write it by hand): As I mentioned in this other article, you don’t need a touch-typing course to learn how to type fast (although it might help). All you need is lots of practice.

But, even if you still type by poking each key individually, then just keep doing this until you get faster. Try to use two fingers, one on each hand for each side of the keyboard.

When you’ve learnt to type fast, words don’t feel like a collection of individual letters. Each word feels like a pattern of movement instead. You move your hands in one way to make one word, and in a different way to make another. Almost like playing chords on a guitar.

Likewise, if you can, use a word processing program without a spell-checker (I use WordPad) and, when you’ve finished, copy your writing into one that does have a spell-checker. This might sound convoluted, but going back and correcting spellings every couple of minutes when you’re writing can be a huge distraction (and not the good kind, like in the third point on this list).

But if, like I used to, you write faster by hand than you do with a keyboard, then write it out by hand first. Yes, copying up the first draft is a bit of a hassle, but it also gives you a chance to edit what you’ve written and it’s less difficult than having to write it for the first time.

2) Simplicity (or not): Unless you’re really on a roll, you don’t have time for either fancy prose or informal prose, or for prose that is too short or too long when you’re writing fast.

The emphasis when writing fast is on just getting your ideas down on paper or on the screen. Go with the style that feels the most natural to you, regardless of whether you feel more comfortable with formal or informal writing styles. Regardless of whether you love to write at length or if you prefer shorter things. Go with what feels natural.

If you’re worried about using repetitive speech tags (eg: “he said”, “she said” etc..) or repetitive sentence openings, then don’t worry. Although it doesn’t always look very elegant, it’s easier for the reader to absorb and skip past repeated things than it is for them to read ten different words or descriptions for the same thing.

One trick for reducing repeated sentence openings without losing writing speed is to have a few well-practiced stock phrases that you can throw in at the beginning of sentences in order to keep things interesting (eg: “Therefore..”, “Another…”, “Likewise…”, “Whilst…” etc..). It makes everything sound a bit like an old school essay, but at least it keeps things mixed up.

As for speech tags, just go with “he said” and “she said” as much as possible. Using too many other types of speech tags too often just makes the writing sound pretentious or it makes the writer sound inexperienced. So, keep it basic. This will also save you having to consult a thesaurus when your characters start talking.

3) Write in bursts (or don’t): Often, when I’m writing quickly, I don’t just sit there and do nothing but writing. I’ll fire out a few sentences and then I’ll pause to read a little bit of something, pause and do nothing, or pause to change the song I’m listening to. Then I’ll go back and fire out another few sentences.

Having lots of very short breaks might sound like the opposite of what you’re supposed to do when you’re writing fast, but it gives you a little bit of time to gather your thoughts. The little breaks also help you to keep your attention focused on what you’re writing, provided that they don’t last for too long (eg: try to keep them under a minute).

Different people have different attention spans and different ways of writing. So, go for what works for you. If you find that you focus better by doing nothing more than staring at what you’re writing, then do this. If this tends to make you feel worn out or bored, then try taking micro-breaks every few sentences.

4) Stock ideas and writer’s block: Of course, you can be experienced at writing quickly, but it won’t help you if you don’t know what to write. So, either prepare some ideas in advance or have a stock of ideas that you can dip into at any time.

This stock can include things like topics you know a lot about, things that fascinate you, types of character relationships, interesting places, your own memories etc… If you’ve got a good enough stock – and you probably have, even if you don’t realise it yet – then writer’s block can be a bit less of a challenge than it might otherwise be.

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Whew, I wrote the first draft of this article in just under half an hour! Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Tips For Making Quick Daily Art To Post Online

2017 Artwork Ways To Make Quick Daily Art

Although it doesn’t suit every artist, there are certainly advantages (for both you and your audience) to posting art online every day. It gives your audience something new to return to your site for every day. It also means that you have a strong incentive to practice regularly too.

Of course, you should probably have a “buffer” of pre-made art before you start posting any of it online. You’ll probably still have to add to the buffer every day, but it means that you’ll be a lot less likely to miss a day’s updates.

Likewise, if your site has a feature that lets you schedule posts in advance, then take full advantage of it (eg: this is why my daily art posts appear here at precisely 7:45pm GMT every day).

But, most importantly of all, how do you make art quickly enough to post it online every day? I’m sure I’ve mentioned all three of these tips at least once before, but they certainly bear repeating.

1) Standardisation: If you’re making slightly more elaborate art, then one thing that can speed up the creative process is to make sure all of your paintings or drawings are a standard size. If in doubt, start small and – when you feel more comfortable working at larger sizes – keep increasing the size and experimenting with different sizes until you find the right one.

Not only will a standard size save you thinking time every time you make a painting, but you will also eventually be able to work out approximately how long it takes you to fill each page (or part of a page) with art, allowing you to plan your time more accurately.

For example, most of my daily paintings are 18 x 18cm in size, with 1.5 cm black borders at the top and bottom of this area. This basically means that the actual area I have to paint in is only 15 x 18 cm (even if the painting itself looks larger).

Even if I add a lot of detail to one of my paintings, I know that it will usually take me no more than 1-2 hours at the most to fill this amount of paper with art.

2) Sketchbooks: Even though I really don’t seem to keep a non-painting sketchbook these days (well, I have one, but it’s turned into a general notebook, where the closest things to drawings that appear in it are my plans for my occasional webcomics), keeping a sketchbook might be a good idea if you want to post art online every day without it taking too much time.

If you see anything interesting or have any interesting ideas, then just make a quick sketch in your sketchbook. Since these sketches will probably be fairly small and they probably won’t be too detailed, you’ll probably also be able to produce more than one sketch per day.

However, if you only post one of them online every day, then you’ll also be able to increase the size of your art “buffer” – which can either take some of the pressure off of you, or give you time for more elaborate art occasionally.

3) Find “Backup Ideas” For When You’re Uninspired:
One of the major causes of time wastage when making art is probably the planning stage. A drawing or painting may only take you 30-90 minutes to make, but trying to work out what you’re going to draw or paint can sometimes take a lot longer when you aren’t feeling inspired.

To speed this up, I’d recommend finding several “backup ideas” that you can turn to when you feel uninspired. These vary from artist to artist, but they’re basically the kinds of things that you can practically paint or draw in your sleep. In other words, the types of art that you find easiest to make.

For me, this includes natural landscapes, minimalist art, still life paintings, some types of sci-fi art, re-paintings of my really old paintings, fan art etc…. But it might be different for you.

Yes, you might find that some of the paintings you make using these ideas may look “boring”, but you’ll actually have a painting to post online. And you will have made it quickly, because you could start painting right away – rather than having to wait for “inspiration”.

Anyway, the main role of a “backup idea” is just to keep you making art regularly until you feel inspired again. So, even if you might spend four days painting similar-looking minimalist paintings, you’ll still be in the ‘rhythm’ of making daily paintings when inspiration strikes again.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Some Sneaky Tricks For Speeding Up Your Comic – A Comic Page Dissection

2015 Artwork sneaky comics tricks article sketch

Before I begin, I should probably point out that – whilst this article will show you a few examples of tricks that you can use to make the art (especially the backgrounds) for your comics more quickly – these tricks can come at the expense of quality. In other words, some of these tricks may be seen as “bad practice”, “cheating” and/or “laziness”.

So, you probably shouldn’t see anything in this article as a “proper” educational guide of any kind – but, rather as an emergency resource to be used if you’re trying to keep to a tight schedule with your comic and you need to make a page fairly quickly (eg: in about an hour and a half).

Anyway, a while ago, I showed someone a copy of my horror/comedy comic that I posted here a few weeks ago. One of their first comments when looking at the art in it was something along the lines of “It’s very detailed“.

I was puzzled by this and explained that it wasn’t actually very detailed, but that I’d used a few tricks to give the illusion that the art in the comic was more detailed than it actually was (in order to make the comic quickly). And, yes, I know, I’m terrible at taking compliments.

Anyway, in case any of these tricks are useful to you, I thought that I’d dissect a page from my comic in order to show you a couple of these tricks. So, without any further ado, here’s page five of “Dead Sector”:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Dead Sector - Page 5" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Dead Sector – Page 5” By C. A. Brown

One of the first things that you will notice about this comic page is that there are a lot of “close up” pictures of the various characters. Not only does this emphasise the dialogue in each panel, but it can also allow you to make comic pages surprisingly quickly because all you have to draw is the character and the wall behind them.

As long as you include at least one detailed picture of all or most of the characters standing in a room together – so that your audience knows where everyone is – you can pretty much just fill the rest of the page with “close-up” pictures of your characters and let your audience’s imaginations “fill in the gaps”.

Just remember to vary the backgrounds and/or to include the occasional non- “close up” panel on your page, in order to make sure that it doesn’t look too boring.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] - Notice how all three characters only appear in one panel. And, yes, just showing someone's hair in the bottom corner of the panel technically counts as an "appearance". Likewise, notice how the backgrounds are different in at least some of the "close-up" panels.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] – Notice how all three characters only appear in one panel. And, yes, just showing someone’s hair in the bottom corner of the panel technically counts as an “appearance”. Likewise, notice how the backgrounds are different in at least some of the “close-up” panels.

Another slightly sneakier trick that I used to speed up making this comic page can be seen in the fifth panel. In this panel, there’s a large patterned wall in the background which – if I’d drawn it properly – would have taken me a surprisingly long time to draw.

However, if you take a closer look at the fifth panel, you’ll notice that the background consists of nothing but a grid and a few random scribbles. Here’s a close-up of it:

It's just a grid and a few scribbles....

It’s just a grid and a few scribbles….

So, how did I get away with this? Why don’t most readers notice this unless I point it out?

Simple. In the third and fourth panel, I included a much more detailed and well-drawn version of this background. What this means is that the audience has a good idea of what the background looks like before they see the fifth panel.

So, when the audience look at the fifth panel and see something that looks vaguely similar to the backgrounds that they’ve just seen, then their imaginations will just “fill in the gaps”. See what I mean:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] - Notice how the detailed backgrounds in the third and fourth panel give the impression that the background of the fifth panel is more detailed than it actually is.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] – Notice how the detailed backgrounds in the third and fourth panel give the impression that the background of the fifth panel is more detailed than it actually is.

Finally, there’s something else that I should mention about the backgrounds in this comic page – only four of the seven panels on this page actually have a proper background. Yes, I’ve managed to avoid drawing backgrounds for just under half of the panels on this page.

How did I do this? Simple, instead of drawing a detailed background, I just painted the background area solid black in these panels.

Not only does a solid black background emphasise the dialogue in these comic panels (since it contrasts with the white background used in the speech bubbles) but, because there is something in the background (eg: paint or ink), your audience is less likely to notice the fact that you’ve avoided adding a detailed background.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] - Notice how only four of the panels on this page actually have detailed backgrounds.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] – Notice how only four of the panels on this page actually have detailed backgrounds.

So, yes, you’d be surprised at how quickly you can make a comic page if you’re willing to be a little bit sneaky…..

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Four Unusual Tips For Writing A Novel Very Quickly

WARNING - Writing a novel THIS quickly may melt your brain...

WARNING – Writing a novel THIS quickly may melt your brain…

We’ve all heard stories about authors writing at superhuman speed – Jack Kerouac apparently wrote “On The Road” in just three weeks and I think that Shaun Hutson once apparently wrote a World War Two novel in a single weekend or something like that (I can’t remember where I read about this though).

So, how do they do it?

Well, whilst I’ve never actually written a full-length novel at top speed, I’ve done the next best thing. Twice.

Back in 2009, I was fascinated by a competition called “The 3 Day Novel“. Since I’d missed the start date for it and was kind of impatient, I decided to have a bit of unofficial practice and I ended up producing two 19,000-21,000 word novellas (not at the same time obviously – the first one was in summer 2009 and the second one was in autmun 2009).

Although it actually took me about four days for one of my attempts, it gave me at least a small amount of insight into how to write at ultra-fast speeds.

As the name suggests, “The 3 Day Novel” is a competition where people try to write a “novel” in just three days. I’ve put “novel” in inverted commas because what most people (myself included) can produce in that amount of time is closer in length to a novella (eg: 14,000- 50,000 words) than a full-length novel. Still, writing something of this length in three days is quite an achievement.

Anyway, since “The 3 Day Novel” contest already has a ‘Survival Guide’ page on it’s site which gives you some basic advice about how to achieve this superhuman feat (eg: don’t edit when you’re writing, write in solitude etc…), I thought that I’d give you some more unusual tips about how to write a novel quickly…….

1)Begin well: On my first unofficial attempt at the “3 Day Novel” challenge, I was excited and ready to go. So, on the first day, I ended up writing something like 10,000 words in the space of about eight hours. This was, at the time, the longest thing that I’d ever written and I was amazed!

In fact, I thought that if I kept this up then I’d have a 30,000 word novella by the end of the challenge.

I didn’t.

On the other days, I was only able to produce about 5,000 words a day.

Anyway, why am I mentioning this? Well, the reason I’m mentioning it is because you need to take full advantage of the first day of your project.

This will be the day when you are at your most energetic and enthusiastic because you haven’t been worn out by writing an unnaturally large amount of fiction yet. So, don’t take it easy on the first day.

Don’t ease yourself into your project gently. Use that first burst of curiosity and enthusiasm to your advantage and throw yourself into your project whilst you still have the energy to do so.

In other words, see your first day as the day when you can give yourself a giant head-start that will be useful a day or two later when you’re at the point when you can still see words even when you close your eyes.

2) Genre and plot structure: If you are going to pull off the gruelling feat of writing a novel in a shockingly short amount of time, then not only do you need to be enthusiastic (if not obsessed) about it but you also need a plot structure which keeps the risk of getting writer’s block to an absolute minimum.

In order to get enthusiastic about your story, it needs to be in one of your absolute favourite genres. It has to be in a genre that you absolutely love.

Because you’ll be writing at a superhuman speed, you’ll need motivation and the best motivation you can get is to be doing something that you love. So, don’t even attempt to write a novel quickly unless it’s in a genre that you genuinely love.

Secondly, you want to keep your story fairly open-ended in order to keep the risk of both writer’s block and of “writing yourself into a corner” to a minimum.

Whilst I’ve already written another article this subject , your story needs to be something that you can easily “make up as you go along” and it also needs to be the type of story where, if you get stuck, you can just throw something completely random into your story without confusing your readers.

For example, if you’re writing a horror story – then it would be better to write a story about a mysterious monster that attacks unsuspecting people at random (eg: whenever you get writer’s block) or a story about a haunted house where all manner of strange and bizarre things can happen (again, whenever you get writer’s block) than it would be to write an intricately-plotted story with detailed plot twists.

3) Sugar and Caffeine are your friends: Normally, I don’t really like energy drinks. Most of them taste pretty horrible and I don’t really like the whole frat-like culture that surrounds them.

But, if you’re writing a novel at superhuman speed (and it’s safe for you to drink energy drinks), then they’re a much more efficient way to stay awake and motivated than getting up (and away from your computer) and making a cup of coffee.

So, before you start your marathon writing session, make sure that you have some energy drinks handy. But, for obvious safety reasons, just make sure that you don’t drink too many of them though (I think that the general rule is that you should only drink about one can of energy drink per day.)

4) Obsession: If you devote a huge amount of time to doing nothing but writing a novel, then you’re probably going to start to think about it almost all of the time – even when you’re not writing.

On the few occasions that you meet other people during your writing binge, you’re going to want to talk about nothing other than the novel that you’re working on.

Although this might make you fear that you’re losing your mind, it’s actually a good sign. It means that you’re devoting almost all of your mental energy to your novel. As long as you don’t keep it up for more than a few days and you find a way to relax afterwards, then a total and all-consuming obsession about your novel is a good thing.

After all, who would even attempt to write a novel in a ridiculously short amount of time if they weren’t obsessed about it?

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂 Again, be sure to check out the “Survival Guide” on the “3 Day Novel” website for some more practical advice.