I love writing just as much as I love reading. I can think of a few occasions where the time you spend writing doesn’t really matter. For instance when you are journaling, writing a letter, or writing an article where extensive research is required.
But when you are writing content for a client, for your blog or for work, it must be done in a manner that is both effective and efficient. Effective meaning; original, creative, and well-written. And efficient meaning as quickly as possible.
Today I want to share 5 ways to help you write faster. I use these techniques personally and have learned them from others over the years. If you find these helpful or have other ideas you can contribute, please let me know in the comments below (just so I don’t feel like I’m writing to myself here!).
1) Start writing now!
Well… why are you still reading? Get to writing! This is clearly the one most people, including myself, struggle with. “Getting started” is easier said than done, I know.
I’m not gonna lie. I still struggle with this one all the time. But somehow I’ve learned to catch myself procrastinating. When I do, I automatically stand up and tell myself “Rod, stop. Stand up, take a deep breath, and let’s just start with our simple framework” (I’ll explain what this framework is in a minute, tip #4).
I can’t remember the exact book I learned this from, but it was a book about beating procrastination and being more productive. It gave the example of a famous movie script writer (sorry I can’t even remember his name, but when I do, I promise to update this entire paragraph), where he used one simple technique to write great movies: to simply get started.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve surprised myself by simply getting started. Somehow as you begin to write, ideas start flowing and sentences start to take shape. As long as you have a main topic idea you can begin writing.
2) Avoid distractions (at all costs)
There is no question that we are living in the age of massive distraction. They are everywhere. It’s insane! But I can honestly tell you that if you plan to become a more efficient and effective writer, you are gonna have to fight this one to the death.
Again, easier said than done. I understand.
So, how do I avoid distractions when writing? Well, first I prepare mentally. I tell myself that I’m going to focus on writing this one blog post for the next two or three hours without any distractions. Then I make sure I’m sitting in an environment that reflects that commitment. In my case, I typically go to the basement, and close the door. Lastly I turn the ringer off on my cell phone and start playing this cool – 4 hour – background music on YouTube.
3) You must type faster
I never really learned how to type on a keyboard professionally. Now that I think about it, I don’t even know how many words I can actually type per minute. I’ll have to check that.
But I’ve been working with computers long enough to have the ability to type relatively fast (again, not exactly sure how fast).
This is nothing more than practice. Whether you take an unconventional approach like mine, or a more formal typing approach, the idea is improve the speed in which you type. Whatever works for you and whatever helps you type faster.
Additionally, sometimes I use the speech-to-text feature on my phone. Although mostly for jotting down content ideas while driving. I’ve never written an entire blog post using this method, but the technology is there to be leveraged, no doubt!
My favorite! I alluded to this earlier on this post under tip #1. I use this almost every time I write, including this post.
The idea is simply to create an outline of your story or main content idea before you start writing. The easiest way I can explain this concept, is by using this post as the perfect example.
How I created the framework for this post
a) Main content idea
I wanted to share a few tips on how to help others write faster. I did not know how many tips, or what the title would be, I just had the “main idea”.
b) Created framework
- I opened WordPress and started a new post.
- Without much thought, I decided on how many tips and quickly came up with the title
- Once I had the 5 tips, I wrote the first thing that came to mind in the following raw format;
- 1) start
- 2) distractions
- 3) type faster
- 4) framework
- 5) maintain a list
- 6) edit later (since I only needed 5, I decided to label this one as “bonus tip”)
A quick glance back at my different tips on this post, and you can see how things took shape based on this framework. I should point out that I like to do this prior to performing any type of research (when/if research is necessary).
c) Wrote subheadings
Once I had the 5+ tips I wanted to share, I proceeded to quickly expand the subheadings like this;
- 1) start became “Start writing now!”
- 2) distractions became “Avoid distractions (at all costs)”
- 3) type faster became “You must type faster”
- 4) framework became “Framework-it”
- 5) maintain a list became “Expand your ideas list continually”
- 6) edit later became “Bonus tip”
d) Started writing
I started writing the intro which helped set the stage for everything else. I like to briefly tell the user what they will be reading about. This helps us both save time. It helps me polish the main ideas I’ll want to discuss, and also helps the end-user determine whether this is something they may be interested in reading or not.
5) Expand your ideas list continually
This is the easy part! Ideas come to us at any given time. They don’t ask for permission, they don’t care where we are, and they certainly don’t come in any specific or predictable format. But when they come, make sure you capture them.
For this, you need a system. I use the default Notes app on my iPhone, iPad and Macbook. All my devices are synchronized which makes the process of capturing and expanding my ideas super easy.
It really doesn’t matter what app or device you use. There’s been times where I’ve had to pull over while driving, and use a good ol’ pen and envelope just because it was just easier. You can also use a voice memo app and record your ideas. The point is to have a system in place that can help you catch as many content ideas as possible.
And now for the bonus tip. This one is still a bit hard for me to do, but I’ve gotten better lately, and that is to edit. My recommendation is to just write, finish the blog post, and come back to it the following day.
In my experience trying to write and edit at the same time really slows the process down. It becomes frustrating because naturally you don’t make much progress with the actual content.
Once you are satisfied with the length of your article and have covered everything in your framework, leave it. Stop. Take a long break or work on something else.
When you come back to it the next day, exclusively to edit, you’ll do a much better job, trust me. There will be no frustration as the content is already done, therefore it will be much easier to clean it up and tighten it.
With that said, I’m done for tonight! I’ll come back to edit this post tomorrow. Thanks for sticking by.