English novelist Anthony Trollope was infamously productive. All his notepad was indexed to indicate intervals of 250 words. He would try to write 250 words per 15 minutes. If at the end of 15 minutes he had failed to reach one of those little marks on his page, he would try to write faster.
Most of us aren’t a machine like Trollope. Writing is a slow work for us.
How many articles have you written in the past three months? Are you satisfied with that amount? Most marketers aren’t. Survey after survey shows that consistently creating content is most marketers biggest challenge.
The easiest way to create more content is to hire more writers or devote more times. But that’s not possible for most of us. The only thing we can do is to write faster.
In this article, I will show you how to do just that – without sacrificing quality. If you follow all my advice, you’ll become one of those special few for whom writing comes easily.
1. Narrate Instead of Writing
Most of us talk faster than we write. Significantly faster. So why not use the voice typing option? You won’t lose your train of thoughts like you do when you write. There’ll be no delay other than the speed of thought. Writing will also become much easier. When you are writing, you think about vocabulary, length and so on. But you don’t think about them when you are talking, do you?
You don’t need a fancy software to do it. Google Docs has voice typing feature. Open Google Docs and go to Tools > Voice Typing. A microphone will pop up. Click on it. Then start talking.
When you’re narrating, pretend you’re talking to your friend. This will make your writing more conversational. It will resonate better with your readers.
Sometimes, you will make a mistake. Don’t stop to correct it. Do it later. Speed is more important in your first draft. Let it be ugly. Just dump all your thoughts on the page. You can clean them in subsequent drafts.
With the text-to-speech option, you can also get your article in multiple formats. If you record yourself while you’re narrating, you will get a podcast and a blog post. If you record yourself with a camera, you will get a video, a podcast and a blog post.
2. If You Write, Increase Your Typing Speed
The average typing speed is about 40 words per minute. If you can increase it to 60, you will decrease your writing time by 50%. If you aren’t already a good typist, if you have to think about where keys are on a keyboard, you can become a good one with a bit of practice. Remember, like all skill, typing too can be improved.
To test your typing speed, go to Key Hero and click on the button that says “Typing Test”. It will provide some texts. You have to type it. It’ll take only a minute or two. You can then see your typing speed. If it is closer to 60 words per minute, ignore this section. Otherwise, let’s get down to work.
First, you need to learn where to place your hand. Take a look at the picture below. This is how you should place your hand on the keyboard.
If you don’t already write like this, you’ll need some practice before it starts to feel natural.
Now time to practice. Key Hero has a simple & good practice round. Remember, you have to make the habit of not looking at the keyboard when you type. If you have to constantly look at the keyboard, you’ll never hit 60 words per minute.
Practice on Key Hero 20-30 minutes every day. In a month, you’ll see a huge improvement.
If you don’t like Key Hero or need instruction from the beginning, try Typing.com. It has more detailed lessons. It will also show you what finger you should use to type each letter.
3. Collect All Your Facts & Create A Basic Outline
The average typing speed is about 40 words per minute. That means if you write for an hour, at 75% of that speed, you’ll write 1,800 words per hour. Do you come even close to that? No. None of us does.
Why can’t we write faster, at this speed? One thing that is a huge factor – we frequently pause while we write. Most of the time this happens because we aren’t sure what the next sentence or paragraph should be.
You can eliminate this quite easily. You won’t write at 1,800 words per hour. But you will get considerably faster. To eliminate this, before you start to write, gather all the facts that’ll be included in your posts. If you write down all of the facts, you won’t have to keep them in your working memory. This will free up more attention for composing.
Become a mini-expert on the topic you’re writing about. If you have to research as you write, it will kill your writing speed. Every time you have to switch to research mode, you’ll lose some time. Constantly switching between the two can also fatigue you. So learn everything you need to know about the topic before you start to write.
After gathering all the facts, create a basic outline of your post. Research shows that taking notes and creating outline makes writing easier. Your outline doesn’t have to be complex. Just write out all the subheadings of the articles. Then write a few bullet points, notes and the relevant facts you’ve collected under each subheading.
Write around the bullet points and notes you have taken. If you use them just as notes and look at them while you are writing, you’ll jump into reviewing mode instead of writing.
The outline will serve as a “talking points”. You’ll have a very clear idea of what you’ll be writing and how you will make your points. It will also make sure every point is presented logically in your article.
Another benefit of creating an outline: you won’t have to write linearly. You won’t have to start at the beginning. You can write in pieces.
4. Use The Pomodoro Technique
You can’t work productively hour after hour without taking breaks. You will get bored and lose focus. Your writing speed will decrease. That’s why you need to take breaks regularly. Studies have shown that taking short breaks can improve your productivity.
You don’t need to take a huge break. Just a few minutes will do. I recommend the Pomodoro technique of taking breaks. It’s very simple and works well. It works like this:
- Set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Write until the timer finishes
- Take a 5-minute break.
Step 1-3 is one Pomodoro. After finishing 4 Pomodoro, take a long break. It can be 15-50 minutes.
There are many Pomodoro timer tools. Here is a very simple online Pomodoro timer. If you want to use your phone, just search “Pomodoro” on your phone’s app store.
5. Don’t Edit As You Write
It’s hard not to be distracted when you write. You’re thinking about what to write next and how people will interpret your writing. Random thoughts are creeping up on the back of your head. If you try to edit as you write, you will add another distraction. You will have to constantly switch between writing mode and editing mode.
Constantly switching between the two will decrease your productivity. Studies show that by constantly shifting focus, you lose up to 40% of productivity. So don’t try to edit as you write. Write the first thing that comes to your mind. Don’t stop for errors in grammar or punctuation. Let your first draft be a garbage. Then do a thorough edit and refine your garbage first draft into a gold. This how most professional writers write.
6. Don’t Forget The Obvious Stuff
Get rid of as much distraction as you can. Put your phone in silent mode. Mute email alerts. Don’t give into the urge of checking your website traffic or search engine ranking.
Try working offline. It will eliminate all online distraction.
Noise is probably the biggest productivity killer. You can’t hear your thought uninterrupted with it. If you work from home and don’t have a designated room as your office, see if you can go to a library.
If you like to work with music, listen to low to moderate levels of ambient noise or baroque classical music. These are soft and consistent. Research shows they can increase your mood and productivity. Any other types of music will slow down your complex thought process.
Give yourself a reasonable deadline. If you give yourself a week to write an article, it will end up taking a week. If you give yourself too short of a deadline, you’ll have to binge write. Marathon writing sessions are generally counterproductive. Research shows it may even lead to depression.
Read regularly. Everything, not just things you write about. This way you’ll build general knowledge. They will stay in your long-term memory and magically surface when you’re looking for just the right info.
Repurposing contents can save you a lot of time. Try to repurpose an article as much as you can. In the beginning of this post, I’ve mentioned how you can record yourself in front of a camera and get a video, a podcast and an article.
Pew Research centre’s marketing team is master at repurposing content. They publish a section of their reports as blog posts. Then they visualize a data point from their blog post and publish it on social media. These posts point to their blog article. This is much more effective than sharing their blog post with a stock photo.
Follow Pew’s example and scale down your article for social media. You can scale up your contents too. String similar posts in your blog and you have an ebook in your hand.
You also don’t always have to create content yourself. Interview experts. Publish a post with thoughts from 15 experts of your industry. This type of post can bring huge traffic.
I’ve shared six different ways you can write faster. Don’t try all of them at once. It could be overwhelming. Try one or two first. Practice them for a week. Measure your writing time before and after. You will see a big difference. This will motivate you to try the rests.
You won’t be able to double your speed overnight. Fast writing takes a lot of practice. Don’t be discouraged by the thought of practice. Remember, if you practice, you can effectively double or triple the value of your time!
When you’re writing use a spreadsheet to track how many words you write per hour. Your goal is to write at least 1,000 words. If you follow every advice of this post, you can write faster than that.
Now, if you want to improve your writing, take a look at some practical writing advice from 30 famous authors.