“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.” -Martin Luther
Writing is one of the most powerful and important forms of communication, especially in today’s content-driven marketplace. One of the biggest problems writers face, however, is speed. This is compounded by the fact that most of us don’t have a lot of extra time to write. We do it on the side. And when that’s the case, it becomes important to make the most of what writing time we do have.
Whether you’re a full-time blogger or freelance writer, you’ve probably already discovered that if you’re a slow writer, it leads to less finished content. Less content generally means less income, especially if you’re being paid by the word or project. And less income means more overall stress. It is just a vicious cycle!
If you’re quickly realizing that you need to write FASTER, you’ve come to the right place! In this blog post, I’m sharing 16 tips to help you write more content quickly, so you can keep getting your message out of the world!
#1 – Map Out Your Writing Journey
Let’s pretend for a moment that you’re taking a road trip. You’ve decided on your destination already. Now you need to decide how you’re going to get there! You probably look at a map, taking factors like speed limit, terrain, and possible delays into account. In the end, unless there’s something you want to visit along the way, you probably pick the fastest and easiest route possible.
It’s the same with writing. To get to your destination as quickly as possible, you need a plan. In this case, that plan is an outline.
An outline can be as simple or detailed as you’d like. Sometimes a few notes on a piece of paper will suffice; other times, you’ll need to make a meatier outline with room for recording research. The type of outline doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that you have a PLAN for your journey.
#2 – Act Like a Writer!
When you write, you’re a writer. You might be creative, but you’re not an artist. You might know grammar rules, but you’re not an editor. At least not at this moment. 🙂 When you’re writing, you’re first and foremost a WRITER.
When most of us sit at our computers to write, we have the final product dancing in our heads. It’s easy to dream of this polished piece of prose, but the reality is that writing doesn’t look like that at the beginning. Even the best pieces started as ideas, many of which were scribbled in shorthand on a piece of scratch paper.
So just sit down and write! Don’t let an ideal image in your head slow you down. Instead, just get something on paper, and don’t worry about fixing mistakes or making everything flow properly until you’re editing. The spelling and grammar can wait; your words cannot.
#3 – Become a Super Typist
If you’re like most writers, you probably don’t have a shortage of ideas, or even words, to put onto paper. But sometimes, it feels like you’re constantly thinking of the words faster than you can get written. If that’s you, then maybe it’s time to increase your typing speed?
Develop “touch typing” skills. This means you can type whole sentences and paragraphs without looking at your keyboard. Touch typing speeds up the number of words typed per a minute.
Using keyboard shortcuts is another great way to speed up your typing, since shortcuts allow you do everything on the keyboard without moving your hands. There are simple keyboard shortcuts for copying and pasting, formatting text, selecting text, and more. (These vary depending on whether you’re using a Mac or Windows computer, along with what document software you’re using.)
#4 – Put on Your Blinders
If you often get distracted from your writing, put on those figurative blinders. Snooze Slack, Facebook, and text notifications or close your email inbox, if you find those things drawing your attention away from the task at hand.
Ironically, some distraction can help people be MORE creative! Consider how listening to music or coffee shop noise might help distract you from other distractions. 🙂 According to the BBC, “it boosts your abstract thinking ability, which can lead to more creative idea generation.” If you find this helpful for you, check out this coffee shop noise website.
#5 – Embrace Your Inner Radio Voice
If you’re struggling with your typing speed, you might find it easier to get your words on paper using a voice-to-text software, such as those tools found in Microsoft Word or Google Documents.
With these transcription tools, you can simply speak your words onto paper, and then edit what you’ve “written” later. It isn’t perfect (especially if you have a strong accent of some kind), but it’s still an easy way to get LOTS of words down on paper in a comparatively short period of time.
#6 – Keep Pushing Forward Toward Your Goal
If you find yourself constantly slowing down in the writing process, it might be time to consider what step slows you down. Do you always seem to get buried with research? Do you struggle with intros and conclusions? Do you get stuck in the messy middle?
Once you’ve identified what slows down your writing process, you can find ways to remedy the problem.
#7 – Let Yourself Breathe for a Minute
Especially if you’ve had a stressful day, taking a few minutes to breathe and relax before you start writing will help you clear your head. Sometimes writing faster might actually mean taking a quick walk around the block first, to clear your head and think about what you’re writing.
Don’t be afraid to give yourself time to think and mull over ideas, even if it means staring at a blank screen for a few minutes. Thinking is a very important part of the writing process, and it can take a little time for your mind to put the pieces together before you write.
#8 – Become One of Those a Crazy 2AM Writers
All is silent and dark. Everyone in the neighborhood is asleep, except for one. Behind the curtain, you see a shadow, hunched over his desk. Typing away, he does his best work at night. The words just flow out of his fingers. No other time of day compares. He gets so much more done after Midnight.
Even though some jobs require 9-5 availability, many writers find that they may actually produce their best work in off hours, such as very early in the morning or late at night.
This is where it’s important to consider your normal body/sleep rhythms and experiment. Writing during your peak times will make the writing process much faster overall, plus you’ll likely produce a higher quality of writing, which will require less editing and rewriting too.
#9 – Write Like You Meal Prep
Approach writing like you do with meal prep – batch it! When you’re preparing several meals for a week or month, you make large batches of recipes at once, and then you freeze them all for later. You can use a similar technique with writing (and other kinds of work too).
Productivity experts suggest “batching” like tasks together, since multi-tasking or task switching slows you down. It’s the same with writing! If you have several pieces of writing to do, you may find that batching steps of the process increases your overall efficiency. Examples of tasks you could batch include rough drafting, editing, and researching, among other things.
#10 – Start at Your Destination
Let’s revisit our road trip analogy for a moment. On most roadtrips, you know your final destination, so you usually work backwards during your planning time.
It’s the same with writing.
If you know where you’re going, write that down first. Don’t worry about the introduction, or even some of the beginning points if you’re struggling to come up with them. Once you have the conclusion written, you can always go back and complete your introduction. Not only will it help you write faster, but doing this will strengthen your introduction and overall structure too.
#11 – Don’t Forget to Eat & Sleep
Writing faster means providing your mind what it needs to function properly. This means if at all possible, don’t skip meals or skimp on sleep. BOTH good nutrition and quality rest will undoubtedly help your mind (and your fingers) perform better, thus increasing your writing speed. There’s nothing slower than a tired, hungry writer. 😉
#12 – Share Your Passion with the World
Meet George, my imaginary friend. George has been enjoying dogs since he was 8 years old, since his mother ran a dog grooming business. He has several canine companions himself. He is heavily involved in dog shows with his own children too. He’s read countless books, and everyone knows he loves movies about dogs.
If you ask George anything about dogs, he’ll start talking. He could talk about this topic for AGES. If you ask him a question about your dog, he’ll probably have the answer (or know where you can find it).
Now that’s a little extreme, but I think you understand what I mean. 🙂 There’s likely a topic or two in your own life that you’re passionate about. Something you can talk about for hours. Something you already know, backwards and forwards and everywhere in between.
If you’re having trouble writing quickly, maybe it’s time to pull back from the research for a moment and just write what you already know. Share your passion with the world. The words will come much faster.
#13 – Stop Trying to Reinvent the Wheel
Most writers work on the same kinds of things over and over again–blog posts, books, presentations, etc. Every time, they use the same general structure. You can use this structure to your advantage by utilizing templates and formulas in your own writing process.
If you always write a certain type of blog post, for example, make a template for yourself. If you’re copywriting, find a reliable source for proven formulas. You can also use checklists as part of the writing process, to double check things you might have missed along the way. All of these things help you write faster.
#14 – Master Your Time
Have you ever waited until the absolute last minute to finish a piece, because you needed that extra spark of the deadline burning behind you? You can mimic that natural tendency by tracking your time or giving yourself time limits.
Some people use the Pomodoro Technique, which involves working for short spurts of time, and then taking frequent breaks. Experiment with time blocking techniques like this, and you might just find it increases your writing speed. Even just tracking your time might be enough accountability to get moving.
#15 – Find More Inspiration
Do you remember the last time inspiration struck? Maybe you were listening to a song or waiting in a parking lot. Suddenly, the idea hit you, and you just HAD to get some words down on paper. In a matter of minutes, you’d written an amazing piece.
While you can’t necessarily rely on such sudden sparks of inspiration during your everyday writing life, you can mimic it by using things like photographs, musical pieces, and writing prompts to inspire you. Once something sparks an idea, the words come faster than ever.
#16 – Never Stop Writing!
Even as you’re learning how to write faster, it’s important to NOT give up. Writing is something that gets better with experience. Every time you write, you get a little better.
This improvement is compounded when you write consistently and regularly. Many writers suggest creating your own writing routine, which includes writing around the same time every single day. This is sure to increase your writing speed as well.
Hopefully these tips will help you learn how to write faster, so you can produce more quality content for those who need it most…without feeling so stressed out yourself.
Interested in learning more about writing? We have several posts on our blog for writers, including these 35+ books on writing skills!
Rachel Abernathy is Ultimate Bundles’ Jill of All Trades, as well as a blogger, virtual assistant, and content marketing professional humming away from her home office in the Midwest. When she’s not writing or editing something new, you can find her making a delicious something (read: mess) in the kitchen! Learn more about Rachel at RachelsRealFoodKitchen.com