If you do a lot of writing, whether for business or pleasure, you may have found yourself wondering how some people manage to put out content at a superhuman pace. I’m talking a post a day of at least 1500 words, in-depth and packed with detail and facts. I used to wonder the same thing. Part of it is practice, sure, but there are some concrete changes you can make to your approach that can speed you up significantly.
And let’s face it—while I love writing, not everyone does. Especially if you’re blogging to promote your business, the time you spend writing is time you could be spending doing other things—and business owners know a thing or two about having other things to do. So, here are 5 tips that will help speed up your writing. They’ve certainly worked for me!
1. Practice typing
Let’s start with some good old-fashioned common sense. If you type a lot, you’ll save enormous amounts of time by increasing your speed. This is one thing that almost anyone, writer or not, can benefit from. How do you increase your typing speed? Practice! As you write, focus on typing as quickly as possible while keeping the number of errors in a reasonable range.
Technique is also very important. If you’re pecking around with your index finger, you’re doing it wrong. Spend some time learning to type properly and see the difference. That link above is a great resource.
2. Outline your posts beforehand
This accomplishes 2 things:
- It allows you to start your draft with a clear idea of what you are going to say. Having your basic points and ideas already written down helps you to stay focused. All you need to do is expand on those basics to create your draft.
- It lets you see clearly what research you need to do to prepare for the writing. Maybe you just need citations to support points that you already know. Or maybe you need to spend some quality time at the library brushing up before you’re able to even write the outline. Much better to do this in advance than to realize it halfway into your draft.
The outline doesn’t have to be anything crazy. It could be enough to just jot down the subheadings or basic ideas you want to follow. Make it as detailed as you need to get the job done.
3. Write your first draft as quickly as possible
When you sit down to write, burn through your draft as quickly as possible. Unless what I’m writing is exceptionally long, I try to get the whole draft done in one sitting. This ensures a clean flow of thoughts and helps you to build momentum. It also keeps you from having to change contexts. The purpose of a first draft is to get your thoughts on the page. Flesh out your outline. Say what you want to say. When you go back and revise and edit the draft, you can worry about how you said it.
4. Don’t edit while you write
I know it’s hard. Don’t do it. You can do that stuff later, and you will. When you’re writing your draft, focus on doing just that. Write the draft. Don’t worry if your phrasing is crappy and your sentence structure is terrible.
Why? Not many folks realize that writing and editing are quite different skills and require a different frame of mind. Constantly looking back and editing your writing as you go distracts you from the process of writing and slows you down, without accomplishing anything.
As the great Ernest Hemingway once said, “The first draft of anything is shit.” It’s true. A first draft is just that—a first draft. It isn’t supposed to be good—it’s the first draft! The process of revision that you’ll go through later is what polishes the draft into a gleaming piece of prose that will wow your audience and book you solid for the next 6 months.
5. Eliminate distractions
This one can be applied to almost any discipline. If you want to do something both quickly and properly, you need to focus. Find a quiet spot, get comfortable, and—dare I say it—turn off your phone for a while.
This can be easier said than done, of course. Odds are, you can’t turn off your phone. I know I can’t. And if you work from home, where you share office space with a wife and two young children, you probably aren’t going to find any quiet places. Here are some things that have worked for me when I need to focus:
- Put on music. Many people find this distracting, but for me, it’s a great boost to my focus. I like stuff I’m familiar with, through nice headphones, turned up louder than it should be.
- Go somewhere else. If you’re in a busy office and people won’t let you be, head off-site. People like to work in coffee shops for a reason.
- Meditate. I’ll be honest—I’ve never been a big fan of meditation. I picked this up because my Apple Watch has this app that buzzes me every few hours and guides me through a quick meditation. And it is amazing. I’ve been doing it long enough now that anytime I feel stressed, I take a minute to follow my breathing. It’s crazy how quickly something so simple can put your head back in the game. Try this.
These 5 tips should give you a fantastic starting point to speed up your writing and get more content out the door.
Do you have any favorite tricks for faster writing? Let me know on Twitter.