Staring at a white page or a white screen is a genuine problem, especially if you are unfamiliar with the medium and know you struggle with writing. Let alone writing fast.
Rumours have it that ‘born-writers’ can carve out a 1000 word, coherent, publish-ready piece in one go. All without tools, an extra set of eyes or a brainstorming session.
You may have always believed ‘the best’ just had it in them from the start — that they have an innate ability to conjure up publish ready pieces in one afternoon. The truth is that even the most prolific novelists and editors recognize that effective writing requires a method, whether they’re conscious of it or not. However, as with any skill, practice makes perfect and writing is no exception.
Don’t be fooled and certainly don’t burden yourself with unrealistic expectations. Instead, read the below guide and adopt our best practices of how to write faster and more effectively.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide:
Why Writing Fast is Difficult
Writer’s block — the bane of literary creatives everywhere. We’ve all experienced this creative dead-end; spending hours staring at an empty page or blank screen with nothing to show for it except the frustration looming on your face (and your editor’s).
For many writers, the difficulty in composing a quality piece does not reside within the writing process itself but the creative process.
The creative process makes writing fast a challenge
The creative process is most often understood as a 4 step process:
- Preparation: Researching and gathering relevant information as well as finding inspiration can be difficult and time consuming, especially if you aren’t knowledgeable about the subject.
- Ideation: Now that you have your information, synthesizing the idea, goal and structure of your content is the next step and usually the most difficult. This is the stage where you figure out how to neatly package and deliver that information in a palatable and enjoyable way.
- Execution: Actually putting pen to paper is also tricky — which rhetorical techniques do you use to best persuade your audience? What about figurative language (internal link to metaphor) and the general flow and tone of your piece? Does it align with your brand’s tone and values?
- Revision: Being critical of yourself and evaluating your own work is difficult and can be an arduous process. Between re-reading for clarity and tone and revising to your editor’s specifications, the structure and content of your piece might change entirely, forcing you to circle back to square 1 when your creative reserves are already depleted.
Unfortunately, creativity remains ever elusive even for the best among us. Luckily, we compiled 8 tips for you to expedite the creative process and learn how to write faster, without compromising on substance.
How to Write Faster
We’ve collated 8 tips that are abbreviated using the word practice, from planning to ceasing control to getting in the mood.
8 tips for writing faster
- Use automation tools
- Cease control
- In the right mood
- Calendar control
- Evaluate and evolve
Regardless of whether you are simply trying to write a blog for a client or your next great novel, there are elements, skeletons, story arcs and formulas that can aid you in writing fast — and they all begin with planning and structuring.
This is not to say that you must turn the art of writing into a science per se, but if speed is what you’re after then look at what has worked in the past. Try using time-proven templates for articles that have performed well and recreate its structure.
While some writers prefer to just go at it, starting with a strategy and plan aids in organizing the direction and structure of your piece and can cut down on some of the idle time spent thinking of what to write next.
A popular method to structure an essay is the hamburger model. Imagine the buns as the intro and conclusion – the two pivotal pieces of the burger – and the patty, cheese and rest of the accoutrements as the body or “meat” of your piece.
2. Read, research and regurgitate
Reading and researching are essential in increasing writing speed as they give the author not only the material to stimulate creativity, but also additional tools and techniques for a uniquely stylized structure.
If you’re a slow typist, then you can kill two birds with one stone by simultaneously reading the likes of Hemingway or Poe and re-typing their verses. This will have the dual effect of aligning your subconscious structuring with theirs while increasing your typing speed.
Be cognizant of the rhetorical devices, figurative language, and modes of persuasion of the content that you’re reading and ask yourself how you can incorporate these literary techniques in your own work.
3. Automate where you can with smart tech and other tools
Getting your ideas on paper can be a difficult process — doubly so if you’re editing as you go along. It’s easy to lose an idea as you attempt to multitask. Once the moment passes it’s almost impossible to recover that spark.
Where you can, try using automated writing assist tools such as Grammarly, Hemingway Editor, Ginger, ProWritingAid, or any number of voice-to-text apps to expedite your editing process. This allows you to focus on putting words and ideas on paper without running the risk of losing that ever-elusive element of creativity.
4. Cease control and avoid editing as you go
Continuing with our previous point on automation, editing is sometimes best saved for last.
Just like removing distractions from your work routine means turning off the Wi-Fi, some writers need to turn off the spell-check option on their laptop since those squiggly lines, in and of themselves might prove too distracting.
If you’re experiencing writer’s block and just can’t think of a relevant idea — assuming full creative freedom from your editor can be extremely effective. Just write.
Giving yourself permission to just get some ideas on paper can be enough to unleash your inner productivity machine. It can always be fixed in post (with some automated help).
However, it’s vital in having another set of eyes proof your copy, so that you’re able to focus on quality. Heck, even the most literate among us need an extra set of eyes. Assuming full creative control is a great way to build a “raw product” which can be refined and reiterated into a quality piece.
5. Train your writing skills and get your creative juices flowing
Writing is a skill like any other and can be improved upon with practice and iteration. Just like going to the gym, constant writing and creative exercises can serve to strengthen your writing capabilities further.
That being said, be sure to find a set of habits that work for you. As with the gym, everyone’s physiology and exercise routine is different – why should it be any different for writing? What works for others may not always work for you, but that shouldn’t discourage you from trying out new techniques.
Instead of emulating another writer, find your creative voice and work on refining it in your own, unique way.
6. Get in the right mood
We admit that this piece of the acronym puzzle is a bit of a stretch, but it is certainly no less important when one is trying to learn how to write faster.
Many writers cultivate an environment that is conducive to their creative efforts. For many, this can be the local coffee shop or a home office. Wherever the place may be, getting yourself into a writer’s headspace is essential to producing quality content.
While the setting and writing environment are both important, the “when” can play an even larger role when it comes to creativity.
Just have lunch and feeling like a mid-afternoon siesta? It might be best to go for a brief walk to get the lethargy out of your system before attempting to put pen to paper.
It does no one (especially your family or partner) any good if you stare at a blank screen all day only to become increasingly agitated, blocked, or frustrated when you are not able to hit your word count or find inspiration. Instead, try clearing your head and re-visiting the piece after you’ve had some time for yourself to get into the proper headspace.
7. Calendar control
As writers, we’re subject to a variety of time-sensitive pressures — self-imposed and otherwise.
It is important to recognize, however, whether self-imposed or actual timelines are your best (i.e., fastest, highest quality) ways in which to get work done. Feeling the fire beneath you can be a great motivator for some, but paralyzing for many.
Try to experiment to see what works best for you. If there’s a piece that you’re having difficulty writing, try working on another and revisiting it again later. It doesn’t do anyone good to stare at a blank page when you can be working on something else!
8. Evaluate and evolve
Lastly, all of the above is for naught if you are unwilling to revisit and assess your past pieces.
It’s important not to be overly critical of yourself. Allow yourself the opportunity to make mistakes. Growth comes from within, and understanding past mistakes and learning how to avoid making them again is something everyone, not just writers, should strive to do.
Don’t be scared to ask your peers for their thoughts and advice. Try out different techniques and methods to see which one works best for you. Hearing a diverse set of opinions can be a great stepping stone for settling into a style that is uniquely yours.
Evaluating your own work is difficult, especially if you’ve never done it before and have never been critical of what you’ve written. If you’re not sure how or where to begin editing your work, we compiled a guide to get you started on the basics. Check back soon to get the guide.
Key Takeaways For Writing Fast and Effectively
Writing fast and effectively may seem like an insurmountable goal at the moment, but PRACTICE does indeed make perfect.
Here’s what to remember:
- Writing fast without compromising on substance is challenging and it takes a lot of practice. If you’re up for the challenge, make sure you have a method that leverages the creative process of preparation, ideation, execution and revision.
- Plan, read and regurgitate: Utilize templates or past work as a starting off point to get your creativity flowing. Story arcs and other writing formulas can cut down on your initial creative planning. Also, broaden your literary spectrum while rewriting the classics is a great way to improve your narrative structuring as well as your typing speed.
- Cease Control and automate when possible: Make time for more important tasks by automating time-consuming tasks such as spell checking and grammar checking. While it’s necessary to do mandatory revisions, automated proofing services used in a preliminary fashion helps to lessen your workload.
- Get in the mood: Before you write, endeavor to be as comfy as possible. The right environment and headspace can do wonders for your flow. Try pouring yourself a mug of your favorite tea, grabbing some comfy pillows and playing your favorite playlist before settling into the creative process.
- Set realistic goals: Set realistic and attainable goals for yourself. Pressure can be a great motivator for many, but if you’re feeling stressed out it can sometimes help to take a step back and collect your thoughts. If you’re stuck on one piece – try shifting your attention to another one. The change in topic can help to clear that creative jam.
- Be open to criticism: Perhaps the most important step, critical self-evaluation of your past work is crucial. If there are recurring mistakes — make a note of them so you can avoid making them again in the future. Try different techniques and approaches to refine your craft continuously. Along with this, have a set fresh eyes skim through your piece. Even the greatest among us need editors.
With that being said, try to get started as soon as possible. Do not wait for the muse to find you — go out and experiment around when you feel you have the least amount of brain ‘fog’ or the greatest number of ideas.