Writing Fast: 5 Tips Anyone Can Use

Writing Fast: 5 Tips Anyone Can Use

These days, writing fast is essential. You can’t get out from underneath the Everest of your email Inbox without it, much less accomplish anything of value.

Please don’t get sniffy. Writing fast needn’t mean writing badly. Indeed, you may be surprised that the quality of your writing improves. Your mind thinks in wholes – in patterns. If you spend too long thinking before you start writing you’ll forget what you want to say.

Make it a habit to think on the page:

Before I start a book I’ve usually got four hundred pages of notes. Most of them are almost incoherent. But there’s always a moment when you feel you’ve got a novel started. You can more or less see how it’s going to work out. After that it’s just a question of detail.

PG Wodehouse wrote 96 books, as well as stage plays and collections of short stories. He was amazingly prolific, and a master of language. Thinking on the page worked for him; try it.

Have fun with these tips. They’ll help you to write faster. (And better.)

1. Start. And keep going.

I’m a horrible typist, and didn’t get my first computer – an Apple IIe – until 1983. This meant that I spent my early years retyping manuscripts, over and over. Even then, the pages looked pock-marked by White-Out.

Over the years, I’ve blessed that early training, because it taught me to keep going: I discovered that thinking too much made my mind and fingers stumble.

Launch yourself into your writing – keep going, no matter what. Don’t stop to think, don’t worry about spelling or grammar mistakes, just keep your fingers tapping. You’ll write faster, and better, once you build this habit.

2. Write about your writing: write a letter, if you can’t get started. What’s your point?

PG Wodehouse wrote 400 pages of notes, before he started a novel. You’ll write faster if you write about your writing.

Let’s say you need to write a blog post. OK, start writing. Write yourself a letter about your writing.

I picked up the letter-writing trick from novelist David Morrell:

… my letter to myself, which can go on as long as 24 single-spaced pages—this is a long document—and as I go in, why is this project so important that you would write about it for a year or more, why do you want to write it, where’d the idea come from, and what I begin doing is asking myself questions … and [in one instance in particular] it took me pages to work that out, and so in a way I was outlining, but I was just doing it a different way.

Writing yourself a message is another way of getting started. It breaks your inertia – primes the pump, if you like.

Whenever you get stuck in a project, write to yourself about it. One of my students writes herself email messages; she emails these messages to her Evernote account.

When you write to yourself about your project, you’ll soon discover the point you want to make. Once that’s done, your writing will flow.

3. Use word associations in mind maps.

I’m a huge fan of mind maps. Currently, I use MindMeister. Create a central topic, then just free-associate around your topic. Don’t stop – keep going.

Yes, this is a form of brainstorming. Give yourself five minutes to brainstorm. Mind mapping fixes the “I don’t know where to start” problem; where to start becomes obvious, and you’ll find that you have a lot to say.

4. “XXX” marks the spot.

As we said in the first tip: keep going! Don’t stop. If you need to look up something type XXX. You can search for these items later, once your draft is done. If you stop, you’ll lose the flow. On bad days, it will take you 20 minutes to get your flow back.

5. Research later.

Does this sound counter-intuitive? Maybe so, but it saves time. What’s the point of researching, until you know what you need? “I need to research” is a just a way of procrastinating.

If you truly know nothing about the topic you’re writing about, create a research plan, and limit your research time. I love research, but it’s a huge time sink. Do minimal research before you start writing, but only if you must.

Then write a draft. Now you know what you need to know, look it up, and write your next draft. If you’ve been writing fast, this draft will flow, and it may well be your final draft.

Writing fast is an essential skill. The benefit? Not only will you get more done, you’ll have more fun too. :-)

 Want to write fast and well?

My Easy-Write process will help.

, and on Twitter: @angee

Writing to Grow Your Business: 5 Easy Tips to Get It Done

Writing to Grow Your Business

Got a blog and social media accounts? If you have, you’re cleverly using content marketing to promote your business.

Content marketing helps your business by stretching your marketing dollars. However, it has an unfortunate drawback: someone has to create all that content… and that means writing.

Perhaps you’ve discounted content marketing because you hate writing.

If so, these five easy tips will help you to get it done.

1. Batch-create: “a thousand forests …”

Emerson said: “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn,” so when you think “content”, think BATCHES. Every piece of content you create can grow, and grow again. For example, I could use each of these five tips to grow additional articles.

Batch-creation is fun. You can:

  • Write two or three or more articles if you’re writing anyway. (I wrote this article while I was writing this one.)
  • Write a collection of tweets while you’re writing an article. (Use a spreadsheet to keep track of when you posted your tweets, and an URL shortener.)
  • Compile a collection of articles into an ebook, or a Pinterest pinboard, while you’re writing an article.
  • Add article ideas to your content calendar. I added a couple of ideas to my content calendar, while I was writing this article.

2. Trash into treasure: use what you already have

You’ve got a treasure trove of content you’re ignoring:

  • Responses to customer questions. Check your email – within five minutes, you’ll have a mass of content you can repurpose into blog and social media posts.
  • Business photos. Every phone’s a camera now. Click away! Chances are you’ve got hundreds, if not thousand of images you can use. Image poor? If you snap two images a day, at the end of the week you’ll have ten images you can post wherever you choose. (Don’t forget the caturday hashtag on Google+, if you’ve got a cat.)
  • Marketing collateral. White papers, polls, questionnaires, and more. Shake the dust off these materials, and use them as seeds for fresh content.

Browse your computer and your company’s library. Turn that trash into treasure.

3. Take the drama out of writing: it’s just talking

Can’t write? If you can talk, you can write. Instead of sitting down to “write”, pretend you’re writing an email message to a buddy. Chat away. When you’re done, delete the “dear Fred”, or whatever salutation you used, and you’ve got content.

Alternatively, use a voice recognition app.

4. Prepare, then write. Like cooking, writing’s all in the prep

Imagine you’re cooking a meal. What do you do? You get a recipe, shop for the ingredients, prepare the ingredients (peel the potatoes etc), and then you start cooking. If you’re cooking a stir fry, getting the ingredients ready takes longer than cooking.

Consider your content calendar as being like your shopping list. Then prepare the ingredients: I prepare the coming week’s content on Sunday afternoons by writing drafts. I use Trello to organize the research and graphics for blog posts.

By the time I’m ready to write (cook), it’s easy, because all the prep is done. If you combine batch-creation with prep, you’ll double the amount of content you create.

5. Take time to think: court your Muse

When did you last sit down to think? On my freelance writing blog, I talked about the value of musing in writing more and more easily:

At least once each day, allow yourself to sit in a quiet place, and think. This is not worry time. Choose something pleasant to think about. You can think about a current project, or about your goals — or about anything else.

The word “muse” comes from the nine Muses, Greek goddesses of inspiration.

9 Muses of inspiration

The nine Muses

When you muse, you reflect on something: musing has a lot in common with daydreaming. Bring your subject to mind, and allow your Muse to inspire you.

So there you have it. Five tips to help you to get your business writing DONE.

Get help with your writing

Got questions about your writing? Get help.


, and on Twitter: @angee