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5 Ways to Write Faster

Posted By Ellen Jackson 19th of April 2017 Writing Content 0 Comments

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.
  • 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.

    • Great work Nayab! Breaking planning and execution into two separate activities works for me. Glad it’s working for you too.

    • Nancy Boulware

      I needed this to get me going.

      Thank you!

      I like the tip from Nayab. It’s a big help.

      By the way, I’m new to blogging.

  • 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!

    • Must be plenty of practice behind those stats Leslie! Fabulous.

  • 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.

    • I’m glad you like it Patricia. You’re right, waiting for inspiration is a recipe for stress. There’s a lot of power in simply getting started.
      I struggle to write short posts too. I think you have to write what works for your content and your style of writing. Thanks for the feedback!

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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

    • Writing every day is a great tip Ravi. I should get back into that habit myself ;-)

  • 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.

  • 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

    • I think you get faster with editing with practice too Kris. I’ve found that writing for other people, sites and magazines has helped me to be less of a perfectionist. Sometimes it’s a matter of getting it done and out there and I remind myself that if others seem happy with the finished piece then I should be happy with it too.

  • 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.

    • Fantastic tips Anil. I’m going to try some of these myself. I love the idea of dictating! Thanks.

  • 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.

    • I think any process that works for you is worthwhile Mike. Yours looks great to me. Have fun writing!

  • 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

    • I’m forever telling my kids that we all get better at everything with practice. They seem to think it’s pretty boring advice too Chris but you’re right it is the easiest and most effective way to get better at anything. I love that you are practising your drawing – and that it’s paying off. Great stuff!

  • Jon Fairchild

    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.

    • Keep practising Jon. I look back on my early writing and cringe. In the past two and a half years I have written A LOT and I know I get better and faster all the time. Good luck :-)

  • 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.

    • Glad you like it Vishwajeet. It used to take me ages to write too. Sounds like you’re making fantastic progress. Keep it up!

  • 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!

    • No worries Kristen. I love the 15 minute rule for everything – even housework ;-) I reckon I write better when I chunk the task up into smaller pieces and do it over a few days or even a week. Then you can go back and improve and revise and you’re definitely under less pressure. Good luck with your deadlines!

  • 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!

  • 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.

    • I always write my first draft, ideas and notes longhand in one of my ever present notebooks Kevin. I feel more creative using paper and pen and it usually allows me to get out and work on those early ideas somewhere other than a desk. Nice to meet a kindred spirit :-)

  • Hi Ellen,

    These are some great tips and one of the mistakes I made when I first started my blog is trying to wait to publish my new blog posts. Now I have a system that allows me to have fresh content ready to post on my blog.

    I make it a point to write 1,000 words each and everyday. I have found that this not only helps me have fresh content ready to post each week.

    It’s making me a better blogger. I am feeling more comfortable and am sharing more of myself on my blog. I love writing and using this technique is definitely helping me enjoy writing more.

    When I used to wait every week to write my content, there was just too much pressure. The stress of it made me put out content that I wasn’t proud of.

    I think I read this on Ramit Sethi’s blog, not really sure, I read so many blogs to help me improve my blogging skills.

    Thanks for sharing these tips, I know they will help so many people improve their blogs and will learn how to write faster so they can become more productive.

    Have a great day :)

    Susan

    • Thanks Susan. I used to write under pressure too and it takes the joy from it I think.
      1000 words a day is an amazing effort. I’m super impressed! Hope you’re having a great day too.

  • Hey,
    Thanks for amazing ways to increase writing speed.
    It all depend on your practice. Stay dedicated and you will see the results soon.
    And every blogger should work on it to improve their speed and save time.
    Thanks Again.

    • Practice makes perfect! Thanks for your comments Jitendra.

  • Hiee Ellen,

    Yeah, Writing a plan and setting up a deadline for our content creation work is really Ohk.

    But i am finding out… this is a hell of big job.

    I use positive affirmations before start writing anything and i do research about what and how i am going to write anything revolving around my topic.

    I write down points first and then elaborate the topic. “Practice makes my man perfect”. We have to keep writing and no need to panic when it comes to content.

    Thanks,for sharing with us.

  • Hello Ellen,

    Excellent post but I think it is always better to write productive while writing quickly. Sometimes when you try to write quickly, you can miss important things and productivity level can be lower. I always make sure to write efficiently by taking time because your content is everything and If you can write well, people will listen to you and you can convert your visitors.

    Though I like your all ideas. Setting deadline and writing daily can improve speed.
    Thanks

    • Glad you like it Saif. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.

  • That’s all are the amazing ways to increase the writing speed. As there is a phrase in English: “Practice makes the man perfect”. The more you do practice, the more your speed is increasing.
    Thanks for the post.

    • You’re very welcome Mohit. I hope the tips help you to write faster.

  • It was very informative and I look forward to reading more of them from you!

  • Hi Darren,

    Great blog post. I sometimes have no focus and have too many things that i wish to write about, but then don’t write anything at all. I have just started my blogging/writing journey and this will definitely help me.

    I look forward to more great tips and advice.

  • When I first started blogging, I used to put forward my writing with just about every excuse available. But what helped me overcome procrastination was: writing daily no matter how bad my first draft was and setting deadlines.

    Great read. Thanks.

    • Glad you like it Diran. I do the same – keep on writing!

  • These are some amazing tips. I would like to add one more to the list. I have met quite a few writers who work on the content as well as the design simultaneously. And I have realized that this happens mainly with writers who use a blogging platform or a CMS system that provides real-time of how the content (along with the design) would look. This distracts the writer, and the eventual outcome is either delayed or is not what the writer had in mind.

    My first advice for these writers is to always, always write the first draft on a wordpad or Google Doc or even on a physical notepad. But avoid writing directly in the CMS. And if you are confident enough to start with the piece directly on a CMS page, I would advise you to use a headless CMS that does not provide any presentation layer.

  • Hi Ellen,

    This title is so intriguing! I think all writers struggle with writing speed, and I’m always worried when I hear people say that they just sit down and spend their time speed-writing, I just can’t do it! I am totally with you on the importance of planning, and I’m really grateful for your post as a reminder. Thanks for sharing good advice – definitely tweeting it out!

  • Some really good tips here. Setting deadlines and focusing on the end result is what gets me going.

  • A very useful post to write an article, many of us don’t think about these points which you have mentioned that for sharing this article

  • Hi Ellen,

    These are some really nice writing tips and could be very useful for writers who wants to speed up their writing. I see many bloggers struggling in this area and spending a lot of time in writing. I will make sure to share this post with the bloggers in my list.

    Thanks.
    Keep sharing.

  • i always try to write articles within 1 hour, however, it won even end after 2 hours also.. thanks for tips.

  • This is really interesting post i would say. As well as very informative.

  • Lucas Smith

    Hey Ellen, great post!

    This reminds me of the time I was given a tip by one of my professors before. She said to just keep on writing, to just let it all out, whatever pops into your mind regarding the topic, you can revise it later. So I did it, turns out, I saved lots of time compared to trying to think my way through the topic I am writing. I just thought I should share this.

    Cheers

  • Thanks for the tips. I definitely find that doing three stages at separate times: planning/research, writing and editing helps my productivity. I also am dumbfounded when people talk about bashing out a post in 30 minutes or less. It takes me hours. And juggling my blog with a full time job and a long commute, I’m struggling to find the hours… But the satisfaction of seeing people share a fresh post is well worth it. :)