One of my favourite writer interviews is the panel Stephen King (fast writer) did with George R. R. Martin (slow writer). At one point, Martin turns to King and says: How the fuck do you write so fast?
It's hilarious proof that you don't have to be a Speedy Gonzales on the keyboard to be a great writer. But it would be pretty sweet to write well at 10 times your current speed, wouldn't it?
To help you crank up the dial on your WPM (words per minute) and WPPD (writing projects per day—okay, I totally just made that up), here are five strategies you can use to write faster and publish more frequently.
1. Use a template
Have you ever felt like your writing was going in circles? That usually happens when you don’t start your writing project with a template.
Templates can save you a huge amount of time, whether you’re producing a high volume of written content or working on something simple, like a short blog post.
Reason being, a template forces you to outline your project before you dive into the actual writing. It breaks your project into a bunch of smaller writing tasks. And it also helps you clarify how you want the writing project to begin and end.
It’s a lot easier to stay on track and write efficiently when you know exactly what you need to write.
On the flip side, if you simply sit down and start writing whatever pops into your mind, you’ll spend more time writing ‘fluff’ than you need to.
Templates. I’m tellin’ ya. They’re the best.
Download our free content templates and use 'em to speed up your writing
2. Get into voice typing
I’m a recent convert to voice typing.
When it first came out, dictation software sucked. Thankfully it’s become a lot better. And although I still need plenty of editing to correct the words that voice typing doesn’t catch, I’ve found that it’s made my first drafts much quicker to produce.
Here’s how I use voice typing to speed up my writing:
- Outline my writing project with a template (see above)
- Dictate my first draft without stopping
- Go back and manually edit the document
From there, I usually type out the rest of my revisions on the keyboard.
There’s usually a scary underlying fear driving the need for perfection and constant editing.
3. Use the Pomodoro Technique like your life depended on it
I don’t care what anybody tells you. It’s impossible to write efficiently and speedily for hours on end. That would be the writer’s equivalent of sprinting a full-length marathon. Somewhere along the route your body would conk out. The same goes for your writing mojo (not to mention your ability to stare at the screen for hours on end).
So, if you need to keep your focus and your energy up to write a lot, use the Pomodoro Technique:
- Write for 25 minutes
- Stop writing when the timer goes off
- Take a short break (3–5 minutes)
After four pomodoros, take a longer break (around 15-30 minutes). Then start the cycle over again.
Once you get the hang of it, you’ll bang out more writing in 25-minute sprints than you will in three-hour stretches.
4. Tell your internal editor to shut the hell up
If you edit every sentence the second you write it, you will take forever to write anything. I’m embarrassed to admit that this took me YEARS to figure out.
Based on my own experience, there’s usually a scary underlying fear driving the need for perfection and constant editing.
“What will people think when they read this? It’s not good enough. I’m not good enough. This should be so much better. Maybe it would be easier if I didn’t publish this until it’s absolutely, utterly perfect.”
That’s your internal editor speaking. You need to tell her to be quiet while you get the job done. Otherwise, self-sabotage will manifest in the form of “okay well maybe if I just tweaked this sentence a bit more”. And you’ll take too long to publish your work.
But how do you actually regain control of your internal editor?
Personally, I negotiate with mine.
“Look, if I can just get this first draft done, THEN I’ll let you have your say. You can help me with the second draft. We can make that one perfect.”
Sounds crazy. But hey, it works for me.
Whatever technique you prefer, the end goal is to stop judging your writing as it falls out of your fingertips.
Get those words out of your head and onto the page. Stop worrying about what the critic inside your head is saying. Stop fretting over how people will react. Stop trying to make it perfect.
Some will be good. Most of it will be crap.
Trust that you can make it better in the second draft.
5. Put your phone in the next room
Constant notifications will be the death of your productivity.
I can’t work effectively when my phone is within arm’s reach.
Putting it in another room helps me stay focused.
If I’m using the Pomodoro Technique, I’ll go and satiate my social media addiction during my breaks.