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How to Write Fast

Alisa Bowman from projecthappilyeverafter.com shares some tips on writing fast.

So you haven’t quite monetized your blog. That means you’re still working 8 or so hours in the non-virtual world for that paycheck. You may also have many other time commitments. They are called marriage, parenthood, friendships and Twitter.

With all of these variables vying for the same 24 hours, how do you follow Darren’s advice and blog at least every day?

You have a few choices.

  1. You could stop sleeping.
  2. You could give up the family and friends.
  3. You could learn how to write really fast.

If you’re tempted by option #2, I can’t help you, but I wish you the best of luck with that. If you want to know more about option #3, keep reading.

I first learned how to write fast when I was on deadline as a newspaper reporter. I, at times, had just ten or so minutes to crank out at least 800 words. These days I blog 4 to 5 times a week at projecthappilyeverafter.com, twice a week at Capessa.com and two more times a week at savorthesuccess.com. I also write guest blogs and magazine articles, and I ghost and co-author books.

All told, I’m typing somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 words a week. Yet, I spend only 6 to 7 daily hours in my desk chair. Over the years I’ve developed this 6-step system for writing fast.

Step 1: Know what you want to say before you sit down. As soon as you finish any blog, start thinking about your next one. Think it over as you walk the dog, while washing dishes, or even while staring at the ceiling at 3 a.m. What will it be about? What do you have to say? Go over lines in your head. For instance, at 3 a.m. last night, I heard the line, “Throw up on the screen.” You’ll hear it again, too. Real soon. Promise.

Step 2: Pick the basic format you will use to organize your blog. Most blogs fall into one of the following organizational templates:

  • Q & A – Someone poses a question and then you answer it.
  • Tips: You start with a couple paragraphs of explanation followed by a list of tips. This “how to write fast” blog follows this format, only the “tips” are “steps.”
  • Story: Once upon a time something happened to me, I learned someone from it, and now we’re at the end.
  • List: This might be a list of great websites, great books, or great people to follow on Twitter.
  • Quiz or Test: You pose a series of questions or offer a check off list that allows the reader to figure something out.

There are other formats, too, but the key to writing fast is knowing and perfecting a few. That way you can create them quickly and easily.

Step 3: Throw up on the screen. (Told you.) Start writing and don’t stop until there are no words left in your head. Don’t stop for typos. Don’t stop for grammar. Don’t stop because you lose your train of thought. Insert quick notes as you write, such as CHECK NAME SPELLING, FIND URL, or WHAT IS THE WORD I WANT HERE? I use that last one quite frequently.

Step 4: Read your blog from beginning to end. Fill in holes. Tinker. Replace your all caps notes with real text.

Step 5: Read out loud once or twice. This will help you catch typos, pinpoint really awkward writing, and help you tighten things up.

Step 6: You’re done. Post it.

I just followed these steps for this article. So far I’ve been writing for 10 minutes.

What’s your best advice for speeding up the writing process? Leave a comment.

Alisa Bowman writes about the ups and downs of marriage at projecthappilyeverafter.com. She’s also the relationships editor at Capessa.com. Follow her on Twitter @alisabow.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. D Jackson says:

    Wonderful article and since I’m pretty new to blogging, this will help me a lot.

    One thing I’ve been trying out is to write the opening and closing of an article first. I find that I have great opening and closing but the meat of the article takes time. So now I have 10 article started and finished and all I have to do now is put in the details in between.

    I know this sounds like a weird way to write articles but I just find that the beginning and end tends to come out easy, it’s the middle that takes more fine tuning.

    Thank again for the article

  2. Karim says:

    Thanks for these tips, especially having a few “template” blog post formats to stick to. I’d been using the old “tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em. Then tell ‘em. Then tell ‘em what you told ‘em.” format, which is good, but I still like having something a little more expansive.

    One thing that helps me whenever I can’t seem to get started writing is just to write jibberish on the screen. Just the physical motion of getting my fingers moving on the keyboard seems to get me into writing mode, and then ideas eventually just start to trickle out. Thanks again for the tips!

    -Karim

    http://superaffiliatepayday.com

  3. uwak says:

    really useful tips…..cause very difficult for me writing fast and good…… sometime too tired,thanks

  4. Justyn says:

    I taught myself to type in Dvorak when I start to write for blogs like http://jpmgmt.com. I initially only saw 5-10% improvements in typing speed and accuracy, but I am now around 75% faster and 30% more accurate. When you do the math on the time I spend now compared to when I typed in Qwerty, it’s a huge improvement!

    Great article!

  5. Jeremy says:

    Writing fast is just a matter of practice (possibly years of practice).

    Giving up Twitter? Hard, maybe impossible!

  6. Monevator says:

    I wish I could follow these tips. You fast writers make it sound so easy! :) (I’m jealous).

    I must spend 8 hours on some of my bigger posts over on my financial website, Monevator. Okay, so they’re big posts (1000+ words) but when I hear you spend that long at your desk *a week*!

    :(

  7. Andrew says:

    Thnaks Alisa,

    I look forward to implementing some of your suggestions.

    Personally, I have been able to keep a schedule of blogging just twice a week, and the main reason for this is that I tend to take a considerable several hours, sometimes up to seven or eight, in preparing each individual post.

    So I hope that I am able to implement some of your suggestions effectively into my writing routine.

  8. panah says:

    I type 85 words per minute (net), but that doesn’t mean can write faster. I personally think of posts in advance and draft them all up with small notes to remind me what they will be about. Sometimes, I sit down for a day and crank them all out. Sometimes, I’ll go day by day. Posting to 10 blogs every day is not simple, and there would be no way for me to do it if I was not doing things in advance (I even had to assume Obama was going to win 3 months earlier to finish up my November posts).

  9. Brian says:

    Good advice. #1 and #3 are the key points. They helped me write efficiently as a student in college, and I use the same methods to guide me while writing up lesson plans as a teacher and while writing up posts on my blog.

    If you know what you want to say before you start writing, and then you just keep writing until you’re done, it’ll go really quickly. It only takes a long time when you pause after every sentence or every paragraph to think, “Where should I go next?”

    In writing this comment, I just noticed that I tend to spend longer writing comments because I _don’t_ have the luxury of thinking about what I’m going to say or write for hours or days before hand. That need to stop and think about the topic, the organization, etc really slows you down.

  10. great tips, i’m a father of a nice 2 years old girls, babysitting her is truly time consuming, and i have real life jobs also. it is frustrating sometime that you know that you have improve the content of your blog with so little time available. thanks for the tips, will try to do it!

  11. Thank you for this blog post – I haven’t seen one about this particular subject so it’s fresh!

    I write fast for short posts where I need to jam a lot of facts into the post only on occasion. When I’m writing a 5,000 word stream of consciousness post at my blog I’m flying. I can knock that out in a few hours. I did a huge post on “What is the Point of Life” that went just like that – I sat down and banged it out and got up and that was that. Sure I had to revise a few things after reading it three times.

    I have Attention Deficit Disorder so for me to keep something straight in my head about what I’ll write about for the next post is out of the question. What I NEED is a digital voice recorder that transcribes accurately into text so I can talk and be writing at the same time – man I’m waitin’ for that day. I’m praying 2009 brings that to my house in a box.

    Right now I have 19 sites and blogs. Of which I’m keeping up with about 6 of them. One of them at About.com requires constant blogging and articles if I want to keep getting paid.

    Thanks again for this article – I’ll start jotting down some ideas for getting more productive with my time… I think maybe starting some lists for future posts might help. I think a pre-fab form where I just jot down topic, main headings, questions to answer and things like that might give me enough info to create a post quickly.

    Anyone doing that?

  12. couldn’t agree more about the “WHAT IS THE WORD I WANT HERE” point. I’ll use it now-on.

    I believe it is a good idea to underline words that you want to hyperlink to other articles on your blog. That way you’d really develop some great inbound links too.

  13. A tip I like to use as often as possible is to “Write in advance!”

    I seldom have time each and every day to update our blog, but next week I am off work, so am determined to write at least 3 posts each day. The trick is to stagger the publishing of them.

    If your blogging site/tool doesn’t allow you to set a blog post to go live at a certain date in the future, then you can just as easily write in Word, notepad or email an article to yourself, then set an reminder in Outlook or whatever calender system you use.

    That way, even when there are days that you have no time to write, something has already been written in advance, simply my making use of the spare time you DO have.

  14. Catherine says:

    I have such a hard time getting started; thanks for the tips.

  15. Smart Boy says:

    Alisa, your thoughts are wonderful. Thank you for an excellent blog post. What I find most beneficial from your points is to really have a good plan BEFORE you start writing.

    This has helped me tremendously in writing posts faster – and actually trying to get through and prove the points I set out to write about in the beginning. Without some form of a thesis – a blog post lacks a direction and final “take away” value.

  16. That’s all good stuff, but it’s not the writing that takes the time for me. I write a travel blog & what about all the time putting in the links to other sites, to your own posts, to your photos & then the time you might spend putting comments/links elsewhere to promote the post. And what about the time to add photos, putting them on Flickr, editing, uploading, downloading, and generally prettifying.

    The writing is the least of my worries.

  17. This is kind of what I do. I get an idea pretty well formed before I start and then write like crazy. If I run out steam in the middle I put it aside for later. I usually spend more time correcting than writing.

  18. brian says:

    That is a some very nice tips. i presently have 2 blogs and I am often falling short of time for writing up on these 2 blogs.
    I am sure following this advice will help me for sure. thank you.
    Brian
    junior golf camps

  19. Lauri says:

    1. I open keyword tool (Google).
    2. I catch up 4-6 good headers
    3. I write one or two paragraphs under each header.
    4. I’m trying to write as quickly as possible :)

    This works only with my travelling blog because I’m blogging in Finnish.

  20. I’ve already tried getting *less* sleep and that doesn’t work for me to be driving in the dark to work at 5am, falling asleep. Can’t neglect the family any more than I already am. So writing faster has to be the solution. I actually find writing fun and enjoyable; speeding through might make it less so. I’ll have to try it and see. Thanks for the tips.

  21. This is great! I worry about punctuation, spelling, grammar, while I’m typing. I can’t wait to put your tips to good use! THANKS!

  22. Aside from planning my blog posts in my head before sitting down to write, my most effective speed tool is voice recognition software.

    I use Dragon Naturally Speaking 9, which allows me to put together a draft post about 5 times faster than I could by typing it out (admittedly, I’m a rather poor typist).

    It’s not perfect by any means… If I’m tired or there’s a lot of background noise (in my case, “background noise” generally means my five-year-old daughter), I end up having to correct some mistakes. Still, that just fits in as part of the overall editing process, so it’s not that big of a deal.

  23. Mac Mendoza says:

    I used to write on close to 10 blogs every week, many posts a week. I was doing well and found out why.

    As stated previously; I turned off phones, cellphones and my wireless connection. This makes a world of a difference. I now have half the sites to run and thinking up new ones every day but my writing is as fast and as precise as before.

    Having hand written notes on a notepad next to the computer helps a lot too. I scribble stuff down all the time and I find it easier and faster than opening a text editor to take memos down.

    I am now running a new blog on Apple Games called http://www.AppleGameShop.com and am committing a post a day. So far so good! I also freelance on other blogs as co-editor and guest poster, as well as offline magazines in my area.

    Great post as always Darren, thank you.

  24. RSS Mage says:

    Great method for conquering the blank page. I’ll give your methods a try when I promote my new site.

  25. ann says:

    i’ll be doing step 3 more often :) i tend to be stuck with writing with good grammar that i lose my train of thoughts, lose some ideas…thanks for this blog post
    how about tips on how to choose a catchy “Title” for a blogpost
    sometimes people just look at an article title and not read further if it doesn’t interest them.

  26. Aaron says:

    Very good advice, I usually take 40 mins to do 800 words!

  27. aprilx says:

    800 words in 10 minutes??? I knew it: you’re a robot!

    Seriously, I don’t think most people could get there–even with your tips.

  28. That’s an interesting one from Alisa. I also noticed that a very good way to write very fast is to use a voice dictation software. There are lots out there that are good but the best among them seem to be Dragon Natural Speaking. It’s a fact that we don’t have much trouble “talking” but lots of us have trouble “writing”. For those who don’t like to nor know how to write fast, fancy using a voice dictation software to “talk” your words out. You will be surprised how fast it can be. And yes – there’s the learning curve with using such software, but eventually they work pretty well.

  29. John G says:

    My trick for writing fast is to always think about who I’m writing for, and to pretend that I’m speaking to her (or him). If I keep my tone conversational, I can write a lot more and a lot faster than if I’m trying to get fancy and “write a term paper” that’s perfect.

  30. Excellent post. Simple, to the point and yet, still holds great advice.

  31. Eva Wallace says:

    Beautiful! Very good tips. I’ve actually discovered most of these through my own trial and error and it’s definitely the way to go! Very productive 10 minutes, Darren – thanks!

  32. silentgirl says:

    Really great article! I found that #3 applies to me especially. Need to work on that. Thanks for sharing.

  33. Nice article.

    Another way to develop fast writing skills is to participate in Nation Novel Writing Month (November). More information is at NaNoWriNo.org. The idea is that you can create the first draft of a novel (50,000 words) in one month.

    Participating forces the writer to let go of certain tasks that tend to bog them down in the writing process.

    Cheers

  34. neon says:

    This is kind of what I do. I get an idea pretty well formed before I start and then write like crazy. If I run out steam in the middle I put it aside for later. I usually spend more time correcting than writing.