It’s a fact: you can save a lot of time by becoming better at what you do. In general, I believe this applies as much to writing as to most other things.
Think about it—you’ve probably spent a few years writing a shopping list, no? Aren’t you a bit faster than you were when you wrote your very first one? I bet so.
I’ll give you some examples for writing.
Learning from others:
1. When I first joined a writer’s group after writing a full-length novel and a few short stories, they quickly pointed out three ways I could improve. One was no head-hopping in scenes—stay in point of view. Next up was learn to use active voice instead of passive voice. I began searching for “wases” like crazy. And third, search and destroy most (some say all) modifiers. If I hadn’t joined the group, who knows how long I would have gone on making those same mistakes?
2. I have also read quite a few books about writing and the writing life. I can’t list all the things I’ve learned from them, but I know it’s stored in my brain and peeks out to help me when needed lots of times.
3. Reading other people’s work, both fiction and nonfiction (since I write both). How does he do such great descriptions? How does she make her points so succinctly? Things like that.
Learned by myself:
Then there’s the actual writing. This is the best way to learn, of course. Almost everyone will get better as they write. I hope I’m better after having written probably around a million words than I was when I first put pencil to paper.
1. How to write on a schedule. Seat in chair, brain on fire. Same time every day works best for me, and for lots of other writers I know.
2. How to write to length. Tell me to write a 50-word story, and I can do it almost at once, give or take a word or two. Then I can fix it so I hit it exactly. Tell me you want between 2,000 and 5,000 words, I can hit that even better, without going under or over. Give me a novel length, again, I can hit it. This did not happen in the beginning. It took a while, and an awareness of word counts. It probably helped that I wrote a lot of short stories—for a few years I was writing one or two a month of different lengths.
3. How to handle different aspects of writing—do better descriptions, for example. I still don’t think I’m great with descriptions, but I have learned a few tricks to make it easier for me to write them. You may have a different weakness that with time and effort will lessen.
Bottom line? You get better and faster the more you write. So, to save time later on, write a lot now. The more you write every day, the quicker you’ll improve.