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5 Ways to Write Faster

Posted By Ellen Jackson 19th of April 2017 Writing Content 16

Running a business is a time suck of epic proportion. Planning, administration, product development, sales, delivery, email, bookkeeping, social media, marketing. It takes time. Throw in a family and you flit from demand to crisis without a moment to reheat that cup of tea you made three hours ago.

Your blog post – that important but not urgent task – is often the victim of the go-go-go life. You know it’s important for but there it is, languishing at the bottom of the ‘to do’ list day after day after day.

‘I must write that blog post.’

‘I really should write a blog post.’

‘Today I will write a blog post.’

‘Tomorrow I will write that blog post…’

Sound familiar?

Not batching, slogging.

I am in awe of bloggers and business owners who casually comment, ‘I write a blog post in 15 to 20 minutes and I batch them. I just sit and write six or seven in a row.’

You what?

Blog posts take me hours. Not minutes. Hours. Write one and I’m creatively spent. I need to lie down, take a walk or faff about on Facebook for 30 minutes to recover. By then a crisis has flared up. Forget batching.

I’m not so hot on the ‘stream of conciousness’ approach either. It’s great for therapy but no-one wants to read my therapy. Not even me.

Despite this I write regularly and professionally. I get it done and I’m getting faster with practice. I’ve also picked up a tip or five from my occupation, psychology.

So here’s what works to write blog posts faster – and why.

1. Have a plan

I used to procrastinate until the day before my publish date (or even the day of) then wait for inspiration to hit and the words to flow. It doesn’t work. It’s slow and frustrating. To get faster I need to know what I’m going to write. Better yet I need some bullet points and links to research I’ll need.

Why it works: In psychology task planning is called an ‘implementation intention’. Its complex and uses the front part of your brain, the prefrontal cortex. Implementation intentions reduce procrastination. Without a plan your brain says, ‘Oops, too hard’ when faced with a big, vague task like writing a blog post. It wanders off to find somewhere else to focus its attention. With a plan you ease its path to your goal, making resistance – and procrastination – less likely.

2. Make planning a separate exercise

Planning then writing in one period is brain overload. Break it into two separate tasks and you increase your efficiency and produce a better result. I like to brainstorm and plan over a coffee at a favourite café. I’ll write later in my office at my laptop.

Why it works: Cues in our environment trigger our habits. Keep looking at the same four walls and you’ll keep thinking in the same old way. To break through a creative block, arrive at fresh ideas and then get writing, mix it up and work in different environments. Large spaces with good natural light and fresh air are great for prompting new thoughts and ideas.

3. Write for 15 minutes a day

Fellow ProBlogger contributor Kelly Exeter put me on to this. Once I’ve got my plan I sit at the laptop, take note of the time, put away distractions and write for 15 minutes. It doesn’t matter what you write. In fact Kelly suggests that if you’re stuck, just keep writing ‘I don’t know what to write here’ until an idea arrives. Try it, it works. What’s more, once you start and find your flow you may find that you just keep going until it’s done.

Why it works: Getting started is often the hardest part of any task, particularly one that feels difficult. The good news is that once we’ve started we’re likely to push on until the job is complete. This is called the Zeigarnik Effect. Your brain doesn’t like starting a task and then stopping part way through. It will linger on your unfinished business, making you anxious until the task is done. Get started and your mind will kick in with the motivation you need to keep going.

4. Set a deadline

A joy of being the boss is the flex in your deadlines. Don’t feel like writing today? Do something else instead. There’s plenty of work to do. Except that’s how the important but not urgent blog post is set adrift.

Sitting, thinking and writing is hard work for your brain. It rewards you by prioritizing that task last, letting you off the hook. It’s a short term gain however. The blog post still isn’t written.

I set myself deadlines for every blog post to trick my brain into getting it done. The shorter the deadline, the more focused you are.

Why it works: Motivation is complex, psychologically, but we know for sure that as a deadline approaches our stress levels rise. When our stress levels rise our brain and body is primed for action. We get started and we work hard to get the task done. This is known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law. No deadline? Not enough stress to get you moving. If you’re a conscientious type like me self imposed deadlines will work. If you’re not, find a way to get others to set deadlines for you.

5. Focus on the end result

The anticipation of a holiday is often the best part, right? Imagine yourself lying by the pool, cocktail in hand, responsibility free. It motivates you to pack and get out of the door.

This works for getting blog posts written too. Generating ideas and writing might feel difficult but don’t focus on that part. Focus on the reward. For me that’s hitting the publish button or sending a finished piece to an editor.  Even better is positive feedback.

Work out where your motivation lies. What’s the reward you get from writing that blog post? Where’s the thrill? Focus on that to get it done.

Why it works: There are two types of goals. Avoidance goals are things to avoid- like losing our audience because we haven’t written a blog post in a month or more. Then there are approach goals. These are the goals that compel us to move forward. Your pool and cocktail vision is an approach goal. The feeling of satisfaction on hitting the publish button is an approach goal. Anything can be an approach goal if you think about it in the right way. Don’t focus on what you’re avoiding. Focus on the good things that come once your task is done.

Ellen Jackson from Potential Psychology is a psychologist who does things differently. She writes about people and why we do what we do. She coaches, she teaches and she helps workplaces to do the people part better.

About Ellen Jackson
Ellen Jackson from Potential Psychology is a psychologist who does things differently. She writes about people and why we do what we do. She coaches, she teaches and she helps workplaces to do the people part better.
Comments
  1. Hello Ellen,
    I totally agree on this point make planning and execution two different exercise you can’t do it parallally.
    Here is what i follow.
    Writting down an idea, then headings and then adding some bulletins.
    Writting the content around the main keyword and then breaking it into more posts and choosing some long tail keywords and LSI keywords for it.
    This technique helps me write 2-3 quality articles on one topic and save my time for the other works.

  2. Trust me, I know exactly how this works. I recall that I took 3 hours just to finish a 500 word essay on my 1st attempt. Now? I take less than that to finish a 1000 word article. I think the machine is well oiled!

  3. I have been guilty of writing a fast post because i read somewhere that people have a shorter attention span and don’t like long posts. I am going to change that. The other thing i wanted to say was that sometimes people wait until motivation or inspiration hits and sometimes it never does. You have to take action. Thank you for the helpful post.

  4. Thanks for this. I’m such a slow writer and will be implementing some of these to help out. I have a bunch of content to push out the next month, and this will help out.

  5. Ellen, really good tips.

    For me, #3 is where it is at. I write 1000 words daily – just for practice – for many years. I eventually went on an eBook publishing tear where I wrote and self-published a 6,000 word eBook every day for 3 months in a row. EVERY day. No days off. It became really easy because I simply developed the habit of writing.

    On most days I write 1-3 posts. A few guesties – or all guesties – and then, I write and publish 1-2 posts weekly on Blogging From Paradise. Toss in the in-depth comments I publish on blogs and I am in the 2,000 word or more – prob 5,000 – ballpark every day. No big deal. Because I developed the habit of writing and I actually enjoy writing, on a deeper level.

    It has to be fun to you, to make things pop and to write faster, more succintly and more clearly.

    Note; faster is better if you are effectively writing, churning out content for clients and customers, creating revenue-generating eBooks. Gotta reign in that fear or the creations become monstrosities ;)

    But really though, if you write for 15 minutes or 1000 words every day – even in a Word document, just for practice – goodness you can become prolific.

    I’ve 5 running guest post opportunities out there and publish at least a few posts weekly on a handful of these sites and I am also developing the new intent of writing and emailing out a guest post daily on new blogs. Ambitious on one level but it helps me do what I love doing, and the more I write, the more quickly I write, and the more quickly I write – accurately, of course – the more content I put out there and the more folks I help.

    Does Thai coffee give me a boost? Maybe ;)

    But overall, developing the habit of writing helps you write more quickly, and this is where the magic happens.

    As for my speed, when I was really in the groove, when I went on the eBook writing tear in Bali in 2015, I could write a 6,000 word eBook in 2-3 hours, when I was cooking. Up until this point this comment took me under 5 minutes to churn out…..all about da habits, and being in the flow too.

    Keep writing guys. Keep adding value. Follow these helpful tips up top. And remember that if you struggle to write a 1000 word post or 500 word post, taking hours, only Fear is stopping you….the fear of criticism or the fear of failure or the fear of not being good enough or any fear….screw that fear. Stare it down. Keep writing. Practice. Practice. Practice. I have 126 eBooks out there, 4 blogging courses and over my entire blogging career – with 4 deleted blogs in their cyber graves, but using their post count totals – I have easily written and published 10,000 blog posts. 8 years to be fair, but that is still a number that can grab some wandering attention spans and show you what’s possible when you write like the dickens, every day, for a series of years.

    #5 is a helpful one to follow to. I love writing, and I love helping folks. I love serving. I love selling stuff. I love making money. I love all these blessings so I sit down and write versus stammering and hesitating and bucking, because my love of fun is stronger than the fear of losing anything. Gotta feel that strong shift – and you are the shifter – to become really really really prolific and to churn out those words like a machine, a cyborg, a Blogging Terminator.

    Thanks for the inspired share.

    Signing off from Thailand, writing until my fingers fall off :)

    Ryan

  6. Hey Ellen,

    I used to be a guy with no writing speed. But the practices is what we all need to increase it.

    Having a plan before you even start is vital. You can’t just jump into the pool without thinking about the safety.

    I would recommend starting writing every day. Procrastination is an enemy to success.

    ~Ravi

  7. My method is : get it written first, then make it professional. I Use these tips regularly and I find myself doing lesser editing with time, while enjoying more on writing great articles!
    Thanks for the post.

  8. Great post.

    I find it’s not the writing that’s the issue. I can crank out 1000 words in 30-40 minutes. My problem goes with the polishing afterwards.

    I’m a bit of a perfectionist, so it takes me much longer editing. I focus on every single word/paragraph and then try to think about what it is and what it’s trying to accomplish and shape it accordingly

  9. Fantastic tips, here are few more cents for those who want to write faster.

    Try distraction free editors like Om writer, Zen writer. Just focus on writing and forget about editing part.

    Also listening to soothing music while writing can help you really write faster, I’ve been practicing it for more than 5 years now and it always works like a charm.

    Using Google Docs (voice typing) is another great tool to save time if you are a writer. It’s hard to get used to in the beginning but once you get habituated to it, you can write a ton of words through voice typing.

  10. I created a blueprint for blogging that I try to follow every time I write a post. My approach is this:

    1. Decide on the main topic.
    2. Research the topic and answer some questions I listed on the blueprint. Questions such as what is the goal of the article, who I am writing for, what are some of their most asked questions, etc.
    3. Break down the main topic into subtopics and research those as well
    4. Rack my brain how to make it simple to understand and not boring (that is why I need to know who I am writing for).
    5. Write the post
    5. Correct any speling mistakes and change weird-sounding sentences (English is not my native language)

    Yes, you’re right, autocorrect should fix typos (such as speling, haha), but sometimes it comes back with a vengeance and bites you in the @#! (read where it hurts most).

    I don’t know if my process is good or not, but it is more than nothing and I’ll keep improving it.
    For now, most of my blogging time is taken by researching the topic and subtopics I’m writing about.

  11. Practice everyday. Its always the most un-sexy advice out there for anything. But, it is the easiest way to get better at something. I recently have wanted to get better at drawing people. So for 30 minutes every day I sketch people. It has only been 2 weeks, but the results are fantastic!

    I think these tips could be applied to anything that you want to become better at/faster at!

    Chris

  12. Jon Fairchild says: 04/21/2017 at 1:48 pm

    This is great advise, thank you! I’m relatively new to blogging and struggle getting a posts done efficiently. I actually started to migrate toward some to these strategies on my own, particularly #1 and #2. I’ll definitely make a point to practice all of these.

  13. Hey Ellen,

    Writing a blog post can be a really hefty task for me. I usually takes 2 to 3 days to write a post. But recently I am starting writing a post more quickly and have written 2 to 3 articles in a single day with 800+ words. I will definitely follow your points here. Thanks for this great post.

  14. These are great tips for getting to that ever dreaded blog post writing! I really liked number 3 because I find that after all the avoiding of writing a blog post once I start I am good to go and the 15 minute rule makes it a small enough task that it doesn’t seem so daunting. I will have to give that a try this week coming up. I will give it a shot earlier in the week too so I am not always waiting til the wire to get them posted because deadlines are a huge driving force to get me moving. Instead hopefully the smaller goal will get me started earlier. Thanks!

  15. Kris, Do you have a sample of a 1000 word post that you wrote in about 40 minutes? I know u said there’s time in polishing, but if anyone on this thread can bang out a well-written seo post (that isn’t just coffee-induced rambling) in an hour, I’d love to know. I can get stuck on a post four several hours!

  16. I even use an old-school pencil and paper sometimes to get my ideas organized. For me, it’s easier to cross out, edit, make notes, then stage 2 is on the laptop.

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