Peter Andrews swims with the Mermaids and shares his tips on HowToWriteFast!



Addressing the crowd at a Great Lakes event.

I’m thrilled to introduce Peter Andrews to the lagoon today for a different sort of Guy Day interview.  Peter has been writing and earning a living at it (!!!) for many years.  He keeps a blog on how to write fast, and teaches online courses on the same subject.  A writer, hubby, great dad, and all-around good guy, he even makes dinner!

It’s exhausting work, let me tell you!  So, first, let me offer the nice man a drink with an umbrella…  and let the questions roll!

1. What if you finally can sit down to write and realize you can’t get started?

Starting is dependent on preparation. Before you finish writing each day, you need to determine what you will work on the next day (or next definite session). This is a promise to yourself. And you keep it. You can still do other things, but you need to commit to work forward.

How not to write fast (duh)!

2.  What if you’re suddenly not in love with your book?  

Everyone falls out of love with their books.  Occasionally, a book is just a bad idea. So be it. Usually, though, we forget why we love the book. The passion fades. I always write out why I MUST write the book before I do more than a few pages. Ten or more reasons. In complete sentences. Designed to persuade me to persevere. It almost always works.

3.  Susan profiled your “bagel” practice for unknown words in an earlier post.  Is there a story behind this?  (pretty please?)

It used to be the Next Best Thing in our quest to write fast.

When I was writing a lot of science articles that were jammed with facts, I kept coming to screeching halts. I lost my momentum, over and over again, as I looked up names, dates, places, and materials. I realized I needed a placeholder that would be unlikely to be in my final copy. Bagel was born.

4.  Do you have a “think positive” mantra that gets you going in the morning?  Susan says you get up at the same time as her (she has to be up at 5:30 a.m.) and you’re already working when she comes into the kitchen at 6:15.  Are you secretly a machine?

Well, it could be the Puritan genes, but I think I just have found work that I am passionate about. Writing is what I was born to do.  (it’s true)

5.  What’s the most you’ve ever written in a week?

I don’t know. I’d estimate 15,000 words. Not heroic, but exhausting for me.

6.  What are you most proud of?  

It changes. I am delighted by the script and the novel I just finished. But I have also gotten a real thrill out of writing a speech and hearing laughter (or seeing tears) as it’s delivered.

7.  Do you have plans for the blog you run?

The blog will keep going. It already has led to courses (an online version begins on Monday), and, eventually, I’ll edit up the material from these into a book.


Peter’s blog offers every writer ideas for increasing their output.  Find it at  

He is also teaching an online course this month at


Thanks, Peter!  The Mermaids are all clapping their fins and splashing around, now you’ve given them the keys to How To Write Fast!





About Susan Jeffery

I am loving the challenge (sometimes) of re-entering the contemporary romance market after a lifetime of raising two fantastic children (it never ends, btw). Just when I thought I was done with kids, I accepted a position as librarian to 900 boys in a Bronx private school. I'm a vintage published author, Harlequin American #206 Fair Game (1987). Winner of the Golden Heart, 1986. Currently exploring the possibility of indie publishing under my new pseudonym (see fresh name, above).

22 thoughts on “Peter Andrews swims with the Mermaids and shares his tips on HowToWriteFast!

  1. Okay…need to check out this blog site! Thanks Susan for sharing your wonderful hubby with us in the lagoon! 😉

    Raising my cup of vanilla bean latte to you both!

  2. Great tips. As I’m trying super hard to revise right now, do you have any tips for that? 🙂
    I have used “Bagel” so many times since Susan posted about that. Luckily, my CP is a mermaid who understands. Love, love, LOVE that idea!
    Thanks for visiting with us! We really love when the menfolk come swimmin’ in the lagoon.

  3. Hello Peter, the fabulous Mr. Andrews. Welcome and thank you so much for swimming with us today. I know you are here to help us write fast but your wife is so endearing and we love her so much that I just had to put the fishy kisses out there to Susan Mermaid first.
    Thank you so much for saying it…” Everyone falls out of love with their books.” Out loud. Your solution to that very confusing problem (especially for those of us writing about LOVE) is wonderful.

  4. Great info, as always. My problem is preparation. Keep reminding me of that, okay?

    1. It’s a great habit, isn’t it, Julia? I had to learn to be specific enough to avoid dithering, but that came with practice (trial and plenty of error).

  5. Thanks for joining us today, Peter! Great article! I’ve been writing at least one action item at the end of the day that I want to work on the next morning. It’s been really helpful. That way, i don’t turn on my computer and just stare at it. 😉

  6. Such excellent advice Peter. Thank you. I went exploring structure. This whole writing adventure is fascinating. Please tell me about the seconds and minutes. Like, for a novelist, how long should it take to read one page? Or does it go by the words? Like 250 words per page? How long should dialogue be before the reader gets bored. Is too much dialogue as hard to handle as too much description? Is it better to wind description into the interaction btw dialogue?

    Am I asking too many questions?

    1. Hi, Gail

      Clock time is never as important as pacing. You can suffer though a book that takes you a day to read, and you can happily lose yourself in a novel that keeps you reading for weeks or months.

      I’m a big believer in having a lot of white space on pages. Dialogue can do this. So can (occasional) short paragraphs. And the key on how long dialogue should go is more about what it says than how many pages it takes. Always begin the dialogue at the last possible moment and finish as soon as you can. That means, when you rewrite, you cut from each end until cutting more would destroy the sense and the mood. This will save you from “Hello, hello” exchanges and conversations the peter out.

      I myself like to interweave dialogue with description. This helps to keep clarity without a lot of he said/she said. But I have read clear and compelling dialogue that went on for pages with nothing but the spoken words themselves, so there are no rules.


  7. Thanks so much for being here, Peter, and for sharing your wonderful advice. (And thanks so much to your lovely wife Susan for bringing you here.) I really like #1, preparing an action item for the next day so that you aren’t stuck staring at a blank page for hours. And that “bagel” advice! How brilliant is that! I’ve used it several times already since that blog post!

    1. Thanks, Pintip. There’s nothing I like better that hearing my advice helped. In my imagination, I make a small contribution to wonderful new books being written.

  8. A big thank you to the denizens of the lagoon. I’ll keep checking for comments and quotes, but this has been a fun visit and the questions and comments have been delightful.

  9. Hey, Peter, sorry I’m late! Just wanted to say hello. Great tips here, and I especially love #2. And that bagel idea makes me think of annotations…

    I’ve been trying to remember to write down the initial thing that sparked the idea for each of my manuscripts so I can recapture the early feeling I had, but I think writing down *why* you want to write the story would be a good addition. All stored within my Scrivener project, of course. 😉

    Will you be in Atlanta this year? Hope to see you and Susan there!

  10. Thanks, Gwen. Good to see you here and glad you like the tips. Both of us will be in Atlanta, and I look forward to seeing you there.
    For those who don’t know, Gwen is THE Scrivener Guru. As an avid user of this program, I recommend you buy Gwen’s book so you can get full value from what it offers.

  11. Great interview Peter! I can’t believe you’re up at 6:15! Wow. That is dedication. 🙂 I like your idea about making a promise to come back the next day to your writing. Very practical.

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