Ever sit down to write and you can't seem to get started. Or you've been writing for what seems like hours and when you look back you've only written 200 words.
It happens to all of us.
It's frustrating to have a publishing goal and then struggle to hit it. You see all of these other bloggers publishing consistently and it looks so easy from the outside.
But there are some tricks of the trade that will help you write faster and publish more.
1. Find Your Flow Space
This might seem obvious, but the right workspace can make all the difference. Creating a space that is comfortable, has the right lighting, and is free of distractions helps keep you focused.
This also means writing during your prime productivity time. For some people it’s first thing in the morning; for others, it’s late at night. Schedule your writing for the time period when you know you’ll be in the right headspace, then go to your writing zone and get to work.
2. Pick a Soundtrack
They make music that is designed to get you focused. There are apps and YouTube videos that play this music and it really does work. Here's a YouTube video if you want to try it out.
The beats of the music are designed in such a way that it causes your brain to mimic a focused state. Pretty crazy.
If you don't want to listen to this specially designed music other music can certainly work. Choose something without words and that doesn't have wide variations in loudness. Having the music change volume suddenly is distracting. You want something that is complex enough to keep your mind occupied, but boring enough to let it fade into the background.
You'll also want a comfortable pair of headphones. Since I wear them pretty much all day long, I like ones that fit over your whole ear. This keeps my ears from getting sore. Here are my favorites.
3. Keep Your Content Organized
Staying organized will go a long way to helping you write faster. It's frustrating trying to figure out where you left off every time you sit down to write.
What was I working on? Where is that Google Doc? It's not very motivating.
By the time you figure out where you left off, you're frustrated and half your writing time is gone.
Instead, create a system to keep track of all of your content from idea to published. If you don't have one already you are welcome to steal mine.
Here is a template of the actual content calendar I use every day to keep track of all of the content I have in progress over the five sites I manage. You can have it for free.
4. Do Your Research First
Give yourself everything you need to write your article from start to finish without pause. If you have all the facts and background information you need for your article, it saves valuable time when you’re actually ready to start writing.
Plus, if you have all the information laid out, it helps you visualize what you'll want to include in the article. I personally find this very motivating.
If you grabbed my content calendar from above you'll have a spot to keep track of all this research.
5. Create an Outline
I create outlines for everything that I write. Creating an outline breaks down a blog post into smaller sections so you aren’t overwhelmed at where to start. I find that once I have a plan I can get going much easier.
Your outline can be as detailed as you'd like. Brain dump everything you want to include in the article and get it all organized.
It’s also worth noting that your outline isn’t set in stone. Sometimes you’ll start writing and realize that your plan isn't the most logical one, which is totally fine.
If you need to move things around to help with flow, add a section, or maybe remove one, go ahead.
If you really want to set yourself up for success, try outlining the night before. Your brain will work on the article in your subconscious (it's true) and you'll have an easier time writing the next day.
6. Start with Whatever Comes First, Then Fill in the Gaps
I have this little phrase that I say to myself when I'm feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to start.
“Just do the next most obvious thing.”
Even when you have an outline, there’s sometimes one section that stands out — it just seems the most obvious. Go ahead and start there. That's the beauty of an outline, you don't have to write the article in order.
Those ideas are definitely taking up space in your head, so getting them down on the page will free up room for the rest.
Not to mention, you’ll get the writing juices flowing and make the entire process a whole lot easier moving forward.
7. Resist the Urge to Edit
If you find that stopping to fix errors is slowing you down then feel free to leave those fixes for later.
The red or blue line that shows up under the word you just typed is hard to move on from. By the time you’ve clicked it and made the suggested change you’ve broken your flow and lost your exact train of thought.
You can disable this feature so you’re able to breeze through and leave the editing for later. It may be hard to get used to, but you’ll go through an entire editing process later anyways. I promise the red lines will be waiting to taunt you when you get there.
Spelling mistakes and grammar are one thing, but nothing slows you down like the feeling of bad structure or awkward sentences.
Don’t worry about getting it exactly right the first time around. The important part is that you got the words down. It’s much easier to reformat that weird and clunky sentence when you have the entire article worked out anyways, so leave it be for now.
Related: How to Write the Perfect Blog Post
8. Work in Sprints
It’s much easier to wrap your brain around short bursts of writing, rather than a whole article at once.
Try working in 20 or 30 minute sprints, where you focus completely for that time and write as fast as you can without stopping. Then, when the time is up, give yourself a short break.
I talk about this some in my article on productivity. I do 30-minute blocks of deep focused work followed by a short break.
The more you do this, the better you’ll become. Not only is it a great way to increase word output and productivity, but it’ll also help you become a faster writer.
9. Use Automation
If you often write the same phrases over and over then automation can be a huge time saver.
You might think you don't have these types of phrases but you might without realizing it. It's likely common information related to your niche.
For example, in the personal finance niche, I often define what a debt snowball is or state the maximum contribution to a 401(k). Having this information automatically populate at the click of a button saves time.
You may have similar phrases in your niche.
Luckily, there’s apps and plug-ins for your computer that will let you create personalized keyboard shortcuts.
Instead of retyping the same words or author bio in every article, you can hit a few keys and have everything you want to say on the page in seconds
Auto Hotkey is free and may seem overwhelming at first. But they have good directions and it easy to use once you figure it out.
10. Learn to Type Faster
One of the worst things about being a writer is those moments when you know exactly what you want to say, but you’re thinking faster than you can type.
Thankfully, you can increase your typing speed and WPM with free games. It’s a fun and easy way to train your fingers and learn to type faster.
You probably used something similar back when you were first learning to type on the computer. Nowadays, there are tons of sites for short lessons, games, and tests, all designed to help you step up your typing game.
You'll also just become a faster typer as you practice. If you are writing regularly it will happen naturally.
11. Enable Talk to Text
I'll admit, I've never tried talk to text, but I've considered it. Even the fastest typers can still talk faster than they type.
I can see with working very well if you're a talker by nature.
If you’ve done the work to train your fingers, but you still can’t keep up with the words flowing through your head, you may want to give the dictation feature a try.
The software for this isn’t perfect, and you have to speak as clearly as possible to limit mistakes. There will probably be more errors than if you were typing yourself, but the idea is that you’re getting the words down faster so it makes up for lost time later.
Whatever you do, don’t try and edit as you go. There will be errors — guaranteed. But you can review and edit the article at the end.
If you want to try this out, Apple, Google, and Windows all have dictation tools built into their technology, so if you’re using these devices you can get started right away.
If want something better at speech-to-text than what comes preloaded onto your device check out Dragon by Nuance.
It’s an AI powered dictation software that learns to recognize hard-to-understand words and phrases you frequently use. You can also create shortcuts and transcribe complete audio files.
12. Skip When You’re Stuck
Many seasoned writers already do this, but it looks a bit different for everyone.
The idea here is to avoid losing momentum by getting stuck on a specific detail in your article. This also works if you feel like you’re missing some additional research or fact-checking– anything that might take you out of the flow you’re in. Whenever this happens, leave yourself a note with a specific, searchable marker for later and come back to it when you’re done.
Some writers use TK, which means “To Come,” to mark a blog post section to revisit. , others use @@ or ** which is easily spotted in a text. Once you’re done writing, use the search feature to find the parts you marked and give them the extra attention they need.
13. Stop Writing Mid Sentence
If you need a break in the middle of writing an article, stop writing mid-sentence.
This works for two reasons. One, when you come back you'll know exactly where you left off, allowing you to easily pick back up and get back into the groove.
Two, your brain hates that open loop and will continue to work on the article behind the scenes. This works just like writing the outline and then leaving it for the night keeps the subconscious working on the article.
Bonus: Don't Forget to Reward Yourself
Giving yourself a reward for completing your writing goals is a great idea and can be very motivating.
I'm not as good at this I should be. But sometimes I will think “ok, if I get this done by 4:30 I'll go sit outside by the fire with a book until dinner. ” Which I suppose is me setting up a reward.
It’s in our nature to respond positively to a reward and it's surprising how productive you can be when you know there’s a treat involved at the end.
Choose whatever is most motivating for you. Some ideas:
- An episode or two of your favorite show
- A walk in nature
- Time with a good book
- A hot bath
- A round of golf
- Take out for dinner
But definitely make up your own. And plan bigger rewards for longer-term goals. Maybe a weekend up in the mountains for publishing your 100th article or hitting certain traffic goals.
Creating good habits and a comfortable workspace will go a long way towards faster writing. But some tricks, like not editing, and leaving work half done for later will also help.
That combination of habits and tactics will be what turns you into a fast and efficient writer.
If you really want to publish more consistently check out my course – Consistent Content.