Accelerate your progress with these ten actionable ideas
This article is not about cool prompts for ChatGPT, secret productivity hacks or replacing your fingers with robotic pistons. I’m assuming that you want to create unique, novel, and personalised writing for your job or your blog.
My clients are mostly writers with English as a second language and one of the most common things they want to improve is how long it takes them to complete a draft.
When we search for efficiency, we should go for the big stuff first. What can you cut? What can you outsource? What can you streamline?
The following methods for improving your writing speed do just that.
10 ways to write faster
- Break up the writing process
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you think of producing a piece of writing as one task. This leads to procrastination and despair. Approach the planning, drafting, and editing separately. With a solid plan and no need to review the work immediately, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can smash the first draft.
- Meticulous planning (with no aimless research)
Writing fast depends on knowing what you are trying to produce. Follow a guide and you won’t be stopping to think all the time. If you get the plan right, you will save hours of time in rewrites, edits, and additions. Don’t get distracted by browsing site after site to research. Focus only on the sources you need to complete your first draft. You can add some of the fine details later.
- Make use of templates
It’s not cheating. People use templates for many high-volume tasks in life. Emails, reports, social media posts — you can build relevant templates and customise them. What matters is the end product. Save time in formatting and typing out phrases you can reuse. Anything you’ll write more than once should be a candidate for having a template.
- Prep by getting into English mode
If English is not your first language, get warmed up before writing. Read similar work to what you’ll produce, listen to a podcast or watch a video in English to get tune your ear to the vocab and cadence of the language.
- Use digital tools
I’m not suggesting you generate text through AI (otherwise why do we need you as a writer). But, digital tools can greatly help with speed. If it helps you write faster, use translation apps, paraphrase repeated phrases with Quillbot or Ludwig, employ phrase express to add repeated text snippets, and check work with Grammarly.
- Train your typing speed
Again, if English is not your first language, your typing may be slower than in L1. Play typing games to hard-wire English phonics and letter patterns into your brain.
- Train your focus
Notice the time of day when you work best. Schedule your writing for then. Cut distractions with apps like Forest, or use the Pomodoro technique to get into the flow state and produce words fast. Ambient music may help too.
- Achieve balance️
If you try to write for 6 hours, you won’t be very productive towards the end of the session. Effective writing sessions must be nurtured through a balanced approach. Remember to take breaks. Movement and walking are especially helpful.
- Use ‘the carrot and the stick’
Are you motivated by rewards (e.g. a coffee from your cafe) or sanctions (e.g. 50 sit-ups)? Either way, ensure that you set a deadline for your writing and hold yourself accountable. This will help you keep pace with your word-count goals.
- Use prompts
If you get stuck, use prompts to get you back in the zone. Play a word game, change your soundscape, look at a mood board or word cloud, or write something easy (250 words of journaling).
Writing faster matters. We’re all judged on productivity (as well as quality). Producing quality work faster brings you (and your employer) a number of benefits. Quick writing may help you feel less tired and allows you to focus on other tasks.
There’s no quick fix or magic formula to writing faster. Your progress depends on your ability to understand your own traits as a writer and your ability to get into the flow state.
Whichever tips you choose to follow (or not), remember to be kind to yourself as a writer. Improved speed and productivity will benefit you, but putting too much pressure on your speed may lead to frustration or burnout. Write smarter, not harder.
He is the author of two collections of short fiction and Fifteen Brief Moments in Time, a novella-in-flash.
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