How to Write Faster to Boost Your Publication Needs
I’ve been asked a lot of questions about how to write faster, especially after my first book was published. From writing supplies to daily habits, I was surprised at the questions.
The truth is that I don’t always write fast. Sometimes I write slowly and deliberately. Other times, I write quickly as if my fingers are on fire.
So when people ask me how they can start writing faster, here’s what I tell them: You need to learn how to set and manage your expectations for yourself to reach your own definition of “fast.”
In other words, we all have our own natural writing styles and work habits—and it’s up to you to find out what makes sense for you personally.
With that in mind, here are some essential tips to boost your word count, regardless if you are tackling a blog post or learning how to write a novel.
Why Writing Speed Matters
Writing fast can help you produce more content, finish projects on time, and get more clients. As a freelancer, it’s important that your work is not only of high quality but also completed quickly.
Writing faster will allow you to meet deadlines without sacrificing the quality of your writing. This means that when an opportunity comes up for your client in the future (and there are always opportunities), they’ll remember how hardworking and reliable you are compared to other writers who may be available at the time. Evan Agatha Christie had publishing timelines.
When speaking about writing speed with clients as part of the analysis of their individual needs (I’m a big fan of this), I’ve learned that sometimes they have deadlines that aren’t flexible or negotiable.
You need to be able to write quickly enough so they receive their project within the said deadline but also so that they feel comfortable asking any questions along the way—which leads me to my next point.
Book Author vs. Freelance Writer Speed
A book author and a freelance writer are two different types of writers with different goals and expectations.
A book author writes to publish a specific work, while a freelance writer writes to sell their writing services. Book authors are more likely than freelance writers to have multiple books in progress at one time and may not need as much income from their writing as freelance writers do. They tend to write faster based on how a goal word count for the day.
Freelance writers focus on delivering quality content instead of quantity. They turn around blog posts, personal eulogies, website content, product descriptions, speeches, letters, and anything else people will pay for ghostwriting services.
For a freelance writer, it is more about hitting deadlines than word count.
No matter which type of writer you are, you need to keep writing. Find a writing flow that works for your lifestyle, so your typing speed increases little by little without that inner critic trying to convince you otherwise.
Here are some tips to get you started.
How to Write Faster
1 - Set Your Writing Environment
To write faster, you need to have everything in place. A writing environment is important because it will help you focus on your task and avoid distractions. It also allows you to create a comfortable space for yourself so that you can relax while working.
Choose a quiet place where no one else will bother you while working on your project. It’s best if this location has few distractions, such as TV or radio noise, phone calls, etc.
You should also make sure there are no other people around when writing. It’s best if they’re asleep.
Get yourself the best chair possible. One that feels good after hours of sitting in it with minimal pain (i.e., no back pain). You’ll be spending lots of time here, so make sure it’s something worth sitting down on.
Finally, have something fun to look at while you’re working. It is much easier to research a great article for your first draft when you can look at the world around you as you work.
2 - Visualize Your Writing Before Starting
Before you start writing, visualize ideas for your first draft. Take a moment and imagine what the end product will look like. Like a child, you’re using your imagination!
You may not be able to see exactly how something like a blog post or draft novel will come together, but that is okay—you don’t need complete knowledge of the finished article when you begin.
What kind of article are you writing? Write down any ideas or topics that come to mind to get started on this first stage of visualization.
If necessary, create a rough outline using bullet points and numbers so that it feels more concrete than just an idea floating around in your head. Then take another minute or two to think about where this piece should go.
- Should I write an introduction before I start on my body paragraphs?
- Where do transitions fit into my workflow?
- How big should these paragraphs be?
- How many sources am I going to include in this piece?
3 - Use the Pomodoro Method
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that uses the timer to break down and manage your work. It’s a simple concept. You set a timer for 25 minutes and focus on one task during that time. Then, you take a 5-minute break.
If this seems too short, don’t worry. The idea is that being able to focus for such short periods will allow you to get more done in less time overall.
By breaking up your work into smaller chunks, it becomes much easier for your brain to concentrate on them individually rather than trying to juggle multiple projects simultaneously (which can lead to burnout).
You can use this technique for any kind of writing—articles or blog posts like this one included. Set your timer for 25 minutes and write about the topic until it goes off. Then stop writing but don’t close out the document.
Instead, take 5 minutes away from the keyboard where you read something else (fiction or nonfiction) or listen to music while sitting back with a cup of tea or coffee. This helps clear out some mental clutter before returning with fresh eyes, ready to write faster.
4 - Leverage Dictation
You may not know this, but you can use dictation software to write faster. Dictation is an excellent way to get your words down fast and easily as you speak them into the microphone of your computer or smartphone.
In fact, you can use dictation software for everything from taking notes at a meeting to writing blog posts for your business website. The best part about using dictation software is that it allows you to focus on the content that you want people to read rather than worrying about how long it will take or how much time it will consume.
When writing faster means publishing more often and generating more revenue from your work, making sure that all our documents are properly automated becomes even more vital than ever before.
This may take some practice. Dictation boosted my writing speed significantly from the beginning. I started with Google Docs, and quickly moved to using the native Notepad app on my iPhone for dictation.
Now I can write faster because it is easier to stay focused, and it helps me avoid writer’s block.
5 - Minimize Distractions
The next step is to minimize distractions. With social media, email, and other notifications in your face at all times, this might seem like an impossible task—but it’s not.
The key here is to stick with one or two devices (i.e., laptops) dedicated solely to writing. This means no checking your phone or tablet while you’re working—only use them when they’re off and charging somewhere else in the house or apartment.
You should also turn off any notifications that can pop up on your laptop screen while trying to concentrate: notifications from Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media.
If you can’t completely shut down these services because they’re integral parts of your work (such as if someone needs immediate responses), then try minimizing their presence by setting up a rule for each site so that emails only show up once every few hours rather than immediately whenever a new message comes through.
This also helps when marketing your work. You don’t want to be overwhelmed by notifications when you’re trying to grow your writing business.
6 - Develop a Writing Habit
In the words of Mark Twain, “the secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
It’s easier to write consistently if you have a writing habit. To write faster and more efficiently, establish a schedule for your writing sessions and stick to it. Writing is a craft that requires discipline, dedication, and consistency by its practitioners. You cannot do it on a whim or when you’re inspired (though inspiration will help).
Writing daily will enable your brain to produce content on demand—it’ll also make it easier for you to prioritize your regular schedule over other activities because writing becomes part of your daily routine.
Almost every serious author I have met and spoken with about writing tips says the most helpful habit is doing a little bit of writing every day.
7 - Find Mentors & Writing Partners
A writing process mentor can help you with your writing process, story structure, and character development. You might want to get advice from someone who has already published their own book or written for magazines or newspapers.
Your mentor can also be a writer by profession, but if that’s not the case, then it’s important that they have expertise in your niche area of interest (e.g., travel, health, etc.).
They will help guide you through the process from start to finish so that nothing is missed, and everything is addressed in accordance with best practices.
Writing partners are a massive benefit. These people want to write faster and hold each other accountable on social media, with a phone in another room, or by checking at an agreed time to write.
I strongly encourage you to check out the 20Booksto50K group, Self-Publishing 101 with Mark Dawson, and the writing resources from Johanna Penn.
Bonus: Give Yourself the Freedom to Make Mistakes
Writing isn’t just about tapping the keys on your keyboard. It’s also about what you do with your mind, body, and soul while writing.
Give yourself permission to make mistakes. You will make plenty of them. Sometimes they’ll be noticeable. Other times they will be more evident after the fact.
That’s okay. Just do your best at all times, and don’t worry about getting everything perfect on the first try—you’ll improve over time as long as you keep practicing.
Don’t let anyone tell you how things “should” be done or what is “the right way” (unless it’s coming from someone who knows their stuff). This applies not only within writing but also outside of it.
There are no universal rules for success—you must find out what works best for YOU personally by experimenting and trying new things.
Writing Faster is About Consistency
Writing faster is about consistency. To do that, you need to write every day. The more you write, the better and faster your writing will become. You can start with ten minutes a day and work your way up if necessary.
Booking writing time in your calendar is essential for success. It creates a habit and helps you focus on what matters most: the words on paper that make up your book or article.
Ultimately, how fast you can write will always be limited by your ability to type or use voice recognition software. But as long as you’re willing to put in some time and practice, even a slow typist can start writing faster—and if you’re dedicated enough, know that there may come a day when your fingers fly across the keyboard.