Wanna learn how to write faster and increase your content creation (without sacrificing its quality)? The trick is breaking up your writing process into sections. If you’re tired of spending a lot of time trying to find words quickly and meet deadlines, read this post.
Let’s do it.
How to Write Faster: 19 Useful Tips
Think of your writing like an assembly line with many workers doing different jobs. One worker removes distractions, a second worker creates a content outline, and a third finalizes the editing process.
Like telling a story, your writing process will have a beginning, middle, and end. Only instead of beginning, middle, and end, it’s what happens before, during, and after you write.
Before You Write
Before you start writing, focus on your pregame. It’s like the sports commentary you’ll watch before the main event.
1. Get Distraction-Free
The best way to write is without distractions. You need time to let your brain relax and articulate its finer points. It’s tough to do that when you can’t string two sentences together.
Whether you work in an office or from home, designate a time when you can focus only on writing.
If you work at an office, make it obvious you’re to be undisturbed. Wear headphones, AirPods, or hang a sign that reads, “unavailable.”
If you’re working from home and your family does too, try to find a quiet space and escape the distractions.
Or designate specific “work” times with your partner. It can be a juggling act, but it’ll be worth it.
Ditch the Notifications
If you do need the internet for online writing, reduce it to the bare minimum. Close all unnecessary browser windows.
Put your phone on airplane mode, so you don’t see incoming texts and emails.
Don’t check social media – it’s a world of rabbit holes just waiting for you to go down and disrupt your writing flow.
Turn Off Spellcheckers When You’re In Rough Draft Mode
Turn off spellcheckers wherever you write. That might be Microsoft Word or Google Docs. For example, Google docs underlines in red any misspelled words.
If you’re like me and see that misspelled red underlined word that screams to be edited immediately, you’re going to stop and correct it.
One workaround is to turn these spellcheckers off.
If in Google docs, head to Tools > Spelling & Grammar > Show Spelling suggestions.
If “Show spelling suggestions” is checked, uncheck it like in the below screenshot.
Don’t let these things trigger your inner-perfectionist.
Perfectionism happens during the editing process.
Use A Writing Flow Playlist
Try listening to calming music or ambient sounds. Here’s what you get with a quick YouTube search using the term “study music”:
Depending on your interests, you can choose study music for:
Or try using search terms like ‘coffee shop ambient sounds,’ ‘ocean sounds,’ or ‘meditative sounds’ and see what you get.
Bonus Tip: Search for apps using the same terms.
Or stream music from iTunes or Spotify. Here’s one I found on Spotify called Writing Flow that I’m enjoying immensely.
2. Know Your Article’s Main Point
Sounds obvious, right? But, if you don’t have a clear thesis when you start, your writing becomes unfocused. Sometimes crafting a headline beforehand (even a lousy one) helps keep you on track.
Your thesis serves as your anchor and prevents you from meandering throughout your article.
Try conducting keyword research or brainstorm for a topic idea before moving onto the next step.
3. Create An Outline
Before writing, think about the primary points you want to explore. These can take many forms, including:
- Objections your reader has
- Pain points
- An unconventional approach
- Topical FAQs
You might even make a bold claim as your article’s main point. Your outline’s subheadings should support your headline (or thesis).
When You Write
Once you’ve completed your pregame steps, are in a good headspace, and set the mood, it’s time to get busy free writing.
4. Unleash a Massive First-Draft Brain Dump
Write a sh*tty first draft, whatever comes to mind. This is a safe space and the best time to get any thought out of your head. Leave no stone unturned.
If you’re already knowledgeable about the topic, you may have a large first draft needing little research – excellent for hitting a word count quickly.
It’s easy to fall victim to your inner-critic, self-sabotage, and ruthlessly judge your own ideas – avoid this.
Edit nothing; that comes later.
Useful Tip: Batch your work by sections. For example, write your first draft on one day and edit it the next day.
I like to keep my draft days and editing days separate as it helps get my ideas out.
5. Use Placeholders
When you’re writing, other thoughts will surface. It could be anything: a question, an image that you’ll want to add, or something else.
As tempting as it is to address the thought you’re having – don’t.
Instead of stopping mid-flow to answer a question about your topic, leave a note to yourself (aka a placeholder) and revisit when you edit.
Placeholders have the effect of speeding up your writing time because they keep you from stopping.
It discourages you from distractions. Placeholders can be symbols (e.g., $$), a duo of letters (e.g., OQ) or numbers (00).
When you revisit your draft, hit command + F on your Mac, and type your placeholder into the search bar.
Every instance you used one will appear on your page, and you can efficiently conduct further research, consider adding visuals, or answering additional questions about your topic.
Placeholders let you finish your thoughts later.
For example, here’s what my placeholders look like using the dollar symbol when I use ‘command + F’ (they’re highlighted in green on my doc):
After You Write
It’s time to step away from your work. I’ve found it helpful to return the next day. Many times, new ideas will enter the fray to be included to your post.
6. Fill In Your Knowledge Gaps with Additional Research
When you’re finished writing your draft, return to spots in your content that are unclear to you. While writing, you’ll stumble across areas you didn’t know as well as you thought.
These are your knowledge gaps.
Sometimes, writing a blog post feels like you’re writing a research paper. If something doesn’t make sense to you, read up on it.
Explaining concepts to your audience helps you understand the material even better.
Research fills the knowledge gaps.
7. Revisit Placeholders
Find all of the placeholders in your article and finish those thoughts you had. It can mean adding screenshots, graphics, images, subheadings, or addressing additional questions you had about the topic.
Visual placeholders are like signposts telling you where to finish a thought.
8. Edit Ruthlessly
Now you’re going to examine your post with a fine-toothed comb. Run your post through spell check apps like Grammarly or Hemingway. Then re-read it to get a sense of the article’s flow.
How does it read for humans?
Spell check apps are great, but sometimes they make poor suggestions. That’s why re-reading your article helps you notice them.
Correct all typos and polish up your draft until it’s publish-ready. That’s my typical structure for writing.
Below are additional ideas you may find useful.
Other Helpful Writing Tips
The above framework can be used with any of the below ideas. Incorporating a couple of them can help you become incredibly proficient.
9. Set a Timer and Have a Word Count
When you’re drafting your post, try hitting a word count every 30 to 60 minutes. Using a timer adds a sense of urgency.
One effective method is the Pomodoro Technique.
Here’s how it works:
- You’ll set a timer (usually 25 minutes) and write
- When the timer expires, take a five-minute break (that’s one round)
- Continue for four rounds. After the fourth round, break for 20 minutes
- Start the entire process again
Setting a timer has the added benefit of improving your writing speed.
Alternatively, you can think of these as writing sprints: It’s when you set a timer for a specific amount of time and write without stopping (aka free writing).
For example, set a writing goal of 250 words in 25 minutes, take a five-minute break, and then write another 250 words in 25 minutes, etc.
You could also divide your outline by its number of subheadings.
For example, if your writing project has six subheadings (along with your intro and conclusion), that’s eight total sections.
If you’re writing a 2,000-word article, divide 2,000 by eight.
That’s the number of words you should try to write per timed section.
10. Gamify Your Writing Process
Make learning to type fun with typing games. These are great for improving speed and accuracy.
Our brains move quicker than our hands and trying to keep up with it is nearly impossible. But you can hedge your bets by increasing your typing speed.
Have a look at Typing Club, GoodTyping, or God of Word.
11. Try the “How Do You Eat An Elephant?” Approach
The question goes like this: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time. I don’t know who coined this term, but it’s a mental framework for turning huge tasks into smaller, doable events.
The basic idea is to start small. And you can use it when staring at a blank page.
Don’t think of the 2,000-word article you need to write. Instead, focus on your outline and start writing section by section.
It makes writing manageable without feeling overwhelmed.
For example, you could try it like this:
- Get a topic
- Write an outline
- Focus on subheadings one and two
- Concentrate on subheadings three and four
- Focus on subheadings five and six
- Write the conclusion and intro
Then assign a time limit and word count to each of those sections. It will feel less daunting to your brain.
12. Use Voice Typing
Dictation software is available if you prefer capturing your thoughts verbally. Instead of putting pen to paper, start speaking.
The software captures your words on the screen. Then you can go back later and edit if needed.
Google docs even has a “Voice Typing” feature you can use for free.
Head to Tools > Voice Typing.
Next, you’ll see a microphone icon appearing with the words, “Click to speak.”
Then start speaking. Using this works well, especially for first drafts.
13. Schedule It Daily at the Same Time and Place
Execute some mental jiu-jitsu and build the habit of writing at the same time and place every day. It helps trigger your brain to “turn on and get into writing mode.”
Use the same stimuli to help get you in the mood.
Productivity Tip: Write when you feel the most energized. You might be an early bird or a night owl – it makes no difference.
New York Times best selling author Tim Ferris said this:
Sometimes peculiar routines are the key to sanity… and productivity. For years, I wrote from 11 pm – 4 am or so, fueled by carefully-timed yerba mate tea, Malbec, and Casino Royale left on repeat in my peripheral vision.
In this age of working remotely, you no longer need to show up at 9 am to sit at a desk. You can work anytime that suits you (from anywhere).
14. Create a Writing-Friendly Environment
The path of least resistance is the one that makes getting started a breeze (and sets you up for success). And designing your environment is the best way to do it.
For example, if your writing time falls in the morning, leave your word doc open the night before. Leave a clean and clutter-free work area (e.g., your desk) That way, when you sit down to write, you’re ready to go.
And if you already created an outline, even better. Just start filling in your subheadings.
If you’re writing in a notebook, leave it open with a pen by its side. That way, you don’t spend time looking for something to write when you’re about to start.
15. Start Anywhere
You can start writing at any place on the page – it doesn’t have to be the intro. Sometimes it’s smack dab in the middle where you’re feeling it the most.
That’s fine. No rule says you have to start with your introduction. Once you get started, you’ll flow – action begets action.
16. Combat Writer’s Block and Type Gibberish
When you feel like you’re unable to start, start anyway – even if that means typing random phrases, letters, numbers, what you ate for breakfast – anything.
There’s something about moving your fingers across the keys or putting pen to paper that makes it easier for your brain to connect the dots.
It’s similar to what happens to your brain when you’re walking – ideas start appearing. Movement makes the brain go.
17. Write A Lot
Writing is a discipline, and the more you do it, the faster you’ll get. Every aspect from your typing to your outline to your editing, will improve.
But you have to exercise that muscle daily.
18. Sign A Commitment Contract
Let’s say you’re a blogger; you could make a bold claim to readers that you’ll be publishing a post twice a week as part of a 30-day challenge to improve your writing speed.
Now that you’ve made your claim public, you need to deliver to save face.
If you’re struggling to achieve your goals (e.g., write faster), try using platforms like Stickk. It’s a website that helps you get things done by incorporating loss aversion and accountability as motivators.
You can also try this with your writing team. Make a joint commitment that your entire organization will increase its output by the end of the quarter. Gamify the process and use cash bonuses and perks as incentives.
19. Try a BloggingTemplate
If you read a lot of blogs, you’ll start to see patterns. When you break those patterns into usable frameworks, it’ll make writing your posts easier.
There are a handful of blogging templates available online. Sometimes using a template helps to get things swinging.
For example, one of our sites writes a ton of product reviews so we created a product review template to help with the writing and editing process.
Here’s an excellent article that breaks down four common blogging templates.
If you’re passionate about learning how to write faster, try any of the above ideas to boost your content creation. Cultivating good writing habits helps you spend less time per article and skyrocket your output. If your full-time income source comes from writing, the ideas here will also help you earn more revenue.
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