Friday, March 30, 2012

Fast Writers Blog Series: Nicola Marsh

As promised, here is Nicola Marsh's secrets to fast writing! She's certainly given me some ideas to get the words on screen.

Hi, Nicola,

Welcome! Thank  you very much for agreeing to be interviewed for the new Fast Writers Blog Series. 

·      First, I’d love to hear about your writing day in a quick snapshot. Do you have a special time to write? Or do you grab moments whenever you can? I guess I’d like to know how structured you are.

With young kids, my writing day isn’t structured at all! Usually, I write from 8.30-11pm but with my youngest starting kinder this year I’ve been able to squeeze in a few hours in the morning too, from 10-12.  I’ve been writing at night for 9 years though and still feel that’s my most productive time. Old habits die hard, I guess. 
·       What sort of writer are you? Planner or pantser? 

Pantser. I used to be a plotter for my early books but changed along the way. These days I write up a rough 2-3 page outline before I start, just a basic storyline description and the characters’ motivation, then off I go. I have no idea what will happen along the way, that’s part of the fun! 

·      Can you tell us a bit about the technique you use to help you to write quickly, and how you developed it? 

My guaranteed speed machine is the Alphasmart, a portable word processor that runs on 3 AA batteries! It has a tiny 4-line screen so you can’t edit as you go.  It’s perfect for writing fast. No Internet, no self-checking, just write. I’ve written many books on it, including mainstream novels I’ve completed in a month because of it!  I absolutely swear by my Alphie for speed.

·         Did you always write this way? Or is your method something you picked up along the way?

I bought Alphie at my first RWAustralia writers conference in Sydney 2004 and have written consistently on it ever since.  Love it!

·         How many words do you write per hr/writing session?

I go by page count and on Alphie I average 6 pages an hour, 8 if I’m in ‘the zone’!

·         How many hours per day do you write? And how many days per week?

Total, I probably write 3 hours/day, but spend another few hours doing the business side of things (eg. Promo, answering emails, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc…)

I write 5 days a week, 6 or 7 if I’m on tight deadline. I always try to have Sundays off and don’t turn on the PC (though I check emails on my phone! And can’t resist the occasional tweet…)

·         How quickly can/do you finish a book? 

My category romances (50K) usually take 4-6 weeks.

Crazily, I’ve written a few mainstream length books in that time length too, but I wouldn’t recommend it! 

·       Do you know what you're going to write each day before you start your writing sessions? For instance, do you draft the scenes/chapters you’re about to write just before you write them, or do you thoroughly outline before you even start the book (if you’re a planner, that is J)? 

No, I don’t draft scenes/chapters before I write them (definitely a pantser). Sometimes I like ending a scene partially way through so I have a good starting point the next day.  Other times I have a vague idea of what needs to happen next and jump straight in.

·         How do you prevent your internal editor/critic from interrupting?

I never edit as I go along.  I write the first draft straight through. Internal editors are not good for speed.  The more you stop and revise along the way, the slower the process. (This works for me, while others can’t write a story without editing along the way. That’s the beauty of storytelling, everyone has a different method that works for them.)

·         Do you have any more tips you’d like to share?

The key to faster writing is…write, write and write some more.

Make it a daily occurrence. Like anything else the more you practice, the easier it becomes.

Writing often breeds faster writing. 

I always find I’m slower after I’ve had a holiday or taken a week off between books, but once I’m in the groove again my fingers can fly J 

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to spend with us. We’d love to hear about your new book, would you tell us a bit about it? 

I’m thrilled that my first mainstream contemporary romance/women’s fiction/romcom/chicklit, BUSTED IN BOLLYWOOD, is being released in mass market paperback this June.

This book released online in December 2011 to rave reviews, including being named in the Top 5 Best South Asian Fiction 2011.

I think the blurb best sums it up:

Shari Jones needs to get a life. Preferably someone else’s.

Single, homeless and jobless, Indo-American Shari agrees to her best friend’s whacky scheme: travel to Mumbai, pose as Amrita, and ditch the fiancĂ© her traditional Indian parents have chosen. Simple. Until she’s mistaken for a famous Bollywood actress, stalked by a Lone Ranger wannabe, courted by an English lord, and busted by the blackmailing fiancĂ©.

Life is less complicated in New York.

Or so she thinks, until the entourage of crazies follows her to the Big Apple and that’s when the fun really begins. Shari deals with a blossoming romance, an addiction to Indian food and her first movie role, while secretly craving another trip to the mystical land responsible for sparking her new lease on life. Returning to her Indian birthplace, she has an epiphany. Maybe the happily-ever-after of her dreams isn’t so far away?

Thanks for sharing your method with us, Nicola. It was lovely to have you join us today :)

Readers, you can pick up a copy of Nicola's new romcom chicklit from any of the links below:

BOOK DEPOSITORY (free postage worldwide!)

USA TODAY bestselling author Nicola Marsh writes flirty fiction with flair. 

She’s had 30 books published with Harlequin Romance and Presents series and sold over 3 million copies worldwide. Her first mainstream contemporary romance, Busted in Bollywood, ‘Sex & the City’ meets ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ released with Entangled Publishing December 2011.

            She’s also a Waldenbooks and Bookscan bestseller, has finalled in several awards including the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, HOLT, Booksellers’ Best, Golden Quill, Laurel Wreath, More than Magic and has won several CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Awards. 

            A physiotherapist for thirteen years, she now adores writing full time, raising her two little heroes, sharing fine food with family and friends, and her favourite, curling up with a good book! 

            She also loves interacting with readers. 

            She blogs daily at

            Tweets incessantly

            And chatters on Facebook
I'd love to hear what you think of fast writing. Do you have a secret method that works? Then share! :)

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  1. Great interview Nicola :)

    I do have to agree with you - write, write, write. I'm fastest when I just keep writing and edit later.

    I'm impressed how quickly you write and that you can complete a category novel in 4-6 weeks!

  2. Wow, how interesting! Thanks for sharing your "trade secrets" Nicola, I enjoyed getting a glimpse into how you work behind the scenes (and had to google Alphie, never heard of it before). And wow, writing about 6 pages per day that is seriously wow, so congrats and please keep up the speedwriting so we can read many of your books!! ;-)

    Thanks for the very interesting post! :-)

  3. What a great post! Nicola, I am totally inspired, and feeling like a complete writing slob. 4-6 weeks ... for a 50k job, you're amazing!

    I love this blog, too,Monique, it's so pretty.I'll be back!!

  4. Great post, Nicola. Great idea, Monique. I encouraged by the fact that you're a pantser, me too! Thanks for sharing:-)

  5. This book sounds awesome and the writing tips are great. It all comes down to discipline to do this all too. Thanks!

  6. Nicola, I like your writing tip at the end. I usually take a break between releases (a couple of weeks), and maybe that's why it takes me a minute to get back into the groove again. I feel like I need that time to recharge, but perhaps it's having the reverse effect.

    I'm a pantser, too, so even though I do have a general idea where my story is going, I don't know the details. Once I get back into the routine of writing, I get inspired and just keep writing and writing until the work is finished because the story begins to unfold.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Great idea for a series. Wonderful interview. Nicola thanks for sharing.

  8. This was an awesome interview! Thank you for the tips!

  9. Ok, so this is bizarre!
    I responded to Joanne and Stella last night but my responses have vanished!

    I'll try again.

    Here goes...

  10. I swear by Alphie, Stella.

    Have written most of my books on it.
    Many people think it's clunky (and the keys are) but for speed factor? Can't beat it!

  11. Thanks for stopping by, Rachel!

    4-6 weeks the first draft. Then comes the editor revisions...

  12. I'm definitely a pantser these days, Ursula.
    So strange, because I used to be a plotter!

    I've become a weird hybrid along the way :)

  13. You're right, Toni, I like to think I'm pretty disciplined.

    When I finally get my kids down for the night and all I feel like doing is vegging in front of TV or reading a great book, I plonk myself in front of the keyboard and start writing.
    Only way to get words down consistently.

  14. I'm the same, Delaney. Any longer than a week and I find it extremely difficult to get back into the flow of writing fast.

    I always take a week off between books, just to 'refill the well', but try not to make it longer than that.

  15. Wonderful interview. Your writing style sounds a lot like mine, except for the outline. I usually start my next book as I'm doing re-writes on the one I finished.

  16. Thanks for the inspiration Nicola. I think I'll have to look into the Alpha smart. Sounds like a great way to keep from checking emails and stuff. And Busted in Bollywood sounds so fun - I'm going to pick it up.

  17. Thank you everyone for your comments! Thanks also to Nicola for sharing her technique for writing faster.


  18. I just ordered a used Alphie on Amazon and I'm practically giddy waiting for it to arrive. What a great idea and great interview. Thanks so much. Can't wait to check out the Bollywood book too.

  19. Hi, Celeste,

    Do let us know how you get on! I can't wait to hear if it helps your output.


Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I greatly appreciate it! :) :)