How to Write Faster: 10 Simple Solutions
Are you a slow writer?
Do you want to learn how to write faster?
If you answered “yes” to both questions, keeping reading.
I’m a naturally fast writer. I can crank out 1,000 words in a half-hour or less if I need to. I can write copy for landing pages in minutes. I’ve written entire blog posts in ten minutes. Some of my advantages are genetic — words come easily to me — but I’ve also learned how to write faster over time with some of the tips and tricks I’m about to show you.
Before I dive in, though, let’s talk about the number one obstacle that’ll keep your writing productivity in the dumps.
The Myth That Produces Poor Writing Speed
None of the tips I show you will work unless you understand this part.
Let what I’m about to say sink deep into the recesses of your brain.
Perfectionism kills writing careers.
In your mind, you might see yourself as the next great artist. You want to be great so badly that you produce the opposite outcome — obscurity and failure.
The tips I’m about to show you all derive from this axiom in one way or another — get over yourself.
It makes me sad. I see so many writers getting in their own way. If they would just write more and stop making excuses for themselves, they’d skyrocket their careers.
If this is you, stick with me…
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If I get stuck on a sentence — missing facts, data, anecdotes, etc — I leave a place holder there and come back to it on the second pass through of my draft.
If you stop and Google facts, quotes, or any other information you need for your blog post or book, you will double, triple, and even quadruple the amount of time you would have spent otherwise.
This is because task switching makes you less productive:
“When we complete a tiny task (sending an email, answering a text message, posting a tweet), we are hit with a dollop of dopamine, our reward hormone. Our brains love that dopamine, and so we’re encouraged to keep switching between small mini-tasks that give us instant gratification. This creates a dangerous feedback loop that makes us feel like we’re accomplishing a ton when we’re really not doing much at all.” – Larry Kim: CEO of Mobile Monkey & Wordstream
The more you focus on a single task the better. Write with focus and then edit with focus, instead of trying to write and edit at the same time.
Beat Your Keyboard Into Submission
I’m a loud typer. I like to bang on the keyboard because the percussion sound it makes gives me the sense that I’m writing faster. Whether or not this is true, having the mindset of a fast writer helps me get things done.
It’s almost like typing harder lets the keyboard know who’s boss. You show your confidence by the physical energy you exert while you write.
Try it. Instead of timidly tapping, mash your fingers on the keyboard.
Align Your Forces
You’d never go to war without a strategy. You’d align your troops strategically and plot out the mission before you attack.
You can “align your forces” – themes, topics, ideas, and structure – for your battle against writer’s block.
I can write without using brainstorming and outlining because I’ve been writing for a long time.
In your case, though, if you’re not used to outlining your work before you write, you’d be surprised at how much more efficient it makes the process.
I’ve had students tell me they just want to “let it flow.” Most aspiring writers don’t have the skill to let it flow. What results is usually a word-vomit filled journal entry.
Structure, formulas, and outlines train you to write with discipline. After you have discipline, you’ll be able to freestyle in the future.
Lose Yourself in the Work
Nothing produces fast writing like getting into a good flow state. Flow occurs when you “lose yourself in the moment,” while working on something you enjoy.
How do you get in the zone?
First, the more often you write, especially at a similar time, the more likely you are to enter a flow state.
Second — not that this needs to be said, but it kind of does — you won’t get into a flow state if you interrupt your work. That means no social media or cat videos, you got it?
Last, you have to understand what works best for you. I write in the morning, some people write at night, others can write in coffee shops, some need complete silence, etc.
You need to know the type of environment you thrive in. And you can only do that by testing different techniques and strategies.
Start Wherever You Want
Do you ever find yourself getting stuck trying to write a killer introduction for your blog post?
I know I do.
Whenever this happens, I skip the intro and work on the main points. If I have a list of points I want to write about, I write about the one that inspires me to write the most. Then, I go back and fill in the other points because the initial one helped me get the momentum I needed to finish the rest.
I can always go back and re-order sections, add useful content, and write great introductions and conclusions in the editing phase.
Get the first draft done. It’s the biggest hurdle.
The Power of Physiology
Try smiling and feeling sad at the same time. You can’t do it. The physical act of smiling induces happy feelings.
Stand up straight with your hands on your hip like you’re Super Man. You’ll feel more powerful and confident.
There’s a connection between our body and mind. Use it to your advantage to write faster.
What do most people do when they feel writer’s block coming on?
They sit there…
Or they just give up.
Instead, just start writing, even if it’s total nonsense.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started out a blog post like this:
Ugh. I don’t feel like writing right now. Maybe clacking on the keyboard a little bit will get the juices flowing. I’m hungry. I want a chicken salad sandwich for lunch…with bacon. Yeah, that sounds really good
Obviously, all of those words are meaningless, but that’s not the point. The point is getting my fingers moving, period. When I move my fingers, it tells my brain “you’re writing!”
Most of the time, I’ll get into a groove, write the post, and delete the gibberish I used to get started.
This is Obvious, But Let me Tell You Anyway
Writing should be fun! You should talk about subjects you enjoy and inject your personality into your work. You’ll write faster if, you know, you actually enjoy what you’re writing about.
This is why I don’t freelance for boring companies. I’d be bored! And I never want writing to get boring for me.
At the end of the day, you’re writing for yourself more than anyone else — even if you have an audience. Instead of writing about stuff you think people will like and pandering, choose topics that mean something to you in the first place.
This seems obvious, but a lot of writers don’t follow this advice.
You don’t have to write about productivity hacks and marketing if you don’t want to. In fact, you shouldn’t.
Write about your passions so you can write with passion.
I Disagree With Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway is known for stopping mid-session and quitting while he’s ahead. The thinking goes — you’ll be dying to write the next day if you stopped at a point where you had momentum going.
I disagree with this. Squeeze all the juice you can out of your writing.
Farbeit for me to disagree with one of the greatest writers of all time, but most writers simply don’t write enough to spare their potential in lieu of a productive tomorrow.
Most days, I usually write until I’m mentally exhausted and depleted. I stop when I realize my work is no longer good.
I start my day writing for a few hours and then I spend the afternoons working on all the tedious stuff I need to do that doesn’t require high-level creativity, e.g., answering emails and replying to comments on my blog posts.
I’m all about being prolific – getting as much work done as possible – and I write faster because I feel my energy depleting as I write. I’m racing against my own fatigue.
Become a Better Writer Without Becoming a Better Writer
A colleague of mine once wrote a post about the way your health impacts your writing.
- Get more sleep
- Stop eating crap
Turns out, he was right.
I’d rather get an extra needed hour of sleep than use that hour to write because I know it will be a net positive — I write faster when I’m more alert and I’m awful when I’m tired.
Like I said before, the mind-body connection is very real.
Taking care of your body helps you become a better writer. Hell, it helps you become better at everything you do.
You Know What I’m Going to Say Next, But I Have to Say it
My words have been read by millions of people across multiple platforms.
I have a thriving side-business based on my writing skills. If I write faster, I earn more income.
I once had a reader ask how writing came so easily to me.
The truth? I just write a lot. That’s it.
I write faster because I write a lot.
I write well because I write a lot.
Millions of words later, I still write a lot because writing a lot is the key to every single dream each writer has.
Will you persist? I don’t know. But if you do, I can tell you what’s ahead.
You’ll become a writing machine.
The world will open up to you and your work.
The stronger your creative muscles get, the easier it will be to command language with strength.
I wrote the first draft of this post – 1600 words – in 46 minutes.