Listen to the audio version of this blog post here:
I admit, I’m the last person who should be writing an article about writing quickly. I procrastinate. I get stuck on a paragraph and can’t move on. I get distracted, like a minute ago when I felt compelled to organize the items in my pencil cup.
But if you’re a service provider — a copywriter, a designer, a consultant, an expert — then writing is a necessary component of marketing your business. You need to produce good sales copy, web pages, emails, and thought-leading content like articles and special reports on a regular basis.
And, chances are, you do much of that writing yourself.
So how do you complete writing tasks more quickly?
Like I said, I’m not a naturally fast writer. (Oh, how I wish I were!) But I have written several books, hundreds of articles and probably a half million words of marketing copy over the years. Here are some things I’ve learned:
1. Plan what you want to say first.
Don’t jump in and start writing until you figure out what you want to say. That doesn’t mean you must put together an exhaustively detailed outline. You just need to jot down the main points. That’s it.
You could fit one of my outlines on the back of a napkin. Yet, I know from experience that without that “napkin”, my writing productivity slows to a crawl.
2. Decide how you’re going to start.
For me, the first few sentences are the most difficult. Once I have those in place, the rest seem to come together more easily.
So I craft those first few sentences — also known as the “lead” or “intro” — at the same time I create my back-of-the-napkin outline. That way, when I’m ready to sit down and write, I’m not starting from scratch. The first few sentences are already there. I’m just picking up where I left off.
3. Just say it.
Author Seth Godin says in one of his books, “No one ever gets talker’s block.”
When you’re writing, you’re essentially talking. So just talk. Talk your way through the article or sales copy or email message until you come to the end. Don’t go back and revise what you said. (You can do that later.) Just have a conversation with the reader.
This leads me to my forth tip, which is closely related…
4. Don’t edit or revise while you write.
Going back and revising a section you’ve just written is a powerful urge. Resist it.
You can’t write and edit at the same time. Correction, you can – but it makes the writing process painfully, painfully slow.
Get the piece written first, even if it’s awful. No one but you is going to read it. Once the words are on the page, you can go back and edit, fix, revise, etc. to make it better and better.
5. Have a deadline.
If you had an exam that required you to write a 350-word blog post in one hour, could you do it? Of course you could.
If you want to write faster, give yourself a deadline. I put a time limit on every page I write and, most of the time — I wish it were ALL of the time, but hey, I’m human — I get that page done by the bell.
6. Write everyday.
If you exercise every day, you’ll get fitter. If you practice the violin every day, you’ll sound better. Well… if you write every day, even for a few minutes, you’ll get faster and the process will become a lot easier.
So there you have it. Six strategies that help me write more productivity. Maybe they’ll help you, too.
(By the way, I wrote this article in just over 90 minutes.)