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How to Speed Up the Blog Writing Process [My Method]

Image by Jonathan Cohen

Image by Jonathan Cohen

Earlier today I was asked for tips on how to speed up the writing process when writing longer posts.

I don’t know that I have an answer that will help everyone with that one as I think it partly comes down to personal style, experience level and skill – but two thoughts did come to mind based upon my own experience.

And before I share them – one quick note/disclaimer…. sometimes slow is best.

While I will talk about my process for writing that has helped me get a little quicker as a writer I do think that it is important not to rush your posts. Slow blogging can lead to posts which have more depth and that are more useful to your readers.

Having said that – I think there are times where bloggers spend so long on tweaking and perfecting their posts that perhaps they could do with some speeding up.

OK – enough disclaimers – here are my two tips!

1. It takes Practice

I remember in my early days when I’d spend hours writing even the shortest of posts. While there are still some posts that are more of a grind to write and can take time (for example three days ago I spent most of the day working on the Ultimate Guide to Writing Comments on Blogs) I do think that my writing has sped up when I compare it to how I used to write.

Related to this idea of practice is that when I write regularly I find that I write faster. If I write every day I get into a groove but if I take a couple of weeks off for a vacation I often find it really difficult to get going again.

While I don’t think every blog needs to publish a post every day – I do see this as a good argument for bloggers to write something every day – just to keep your writing flowing.

2. Break it Down: How I do It

The second thing that comes to mind is that when I approach a larger topic and sit down to write what I think will be a longer post I tend write in a different way to when I write shorter posts.

Knowing that the topic is big I will often try to come up with an outline for the post before I start.

Start with a List

For me this means I almost always create a bullet point list before I start writing a longer post.

The list simply contains the main points or sub topics that I want to touch on in the post. Each point might simply be a word or two but as I create the list I begin to look at the post not as a massive overwhelming job but as a series of smaller tasks that I need to work through to write the post.

Expand Each Point

With the list in hand I will generally try to start writing a paragraph or two on each point.

Of course as I write inspiration might come and I might add in points or change their order – but with the list to work through I quite often find that the post is written before I realise it.

Introductions, Conclusions and Titles

Once I’ve worked through all the points I will usually go back to to the beginning and work on my post title, write an introduction (or tweak what I’ve already written) and will then work on a conclusion and call to action.

I know some people like to write their introduction first but I find my introductions flow a lot better if I know what I’ve written rather than writing an introduction to something I’m not completely sure of how it will end.

Make it Flow and Consider Format

Sometimes I might also need to work a little on tying points together to make the post flow but as I tend to write articles in a single sitting I will often have naturally done this as I’ve written.

The other thing to consider at this point is how I’ll format the post. Because I’ve started with a list might mean that the post ends up looking like a list. A good example of this is my recent post ‘7 Ways to Stay Inspired and Avoid Bloggers Burn Out‘ in which I followed this exact process and then number each of the points in the post.

Your post need not be numbered or look like a list though. Alternatively you might just use headings to start each point without any numbers (as I did recently in my post on on my Facebook experiments) or you might even choose to present the post as an article/essay without any headings.

My personal preference is to break a post down with headings, steps or into a list – mainly because I think it makes my posts easier to read (see below on this).

Edit and Polish

Last of all comes a once over to Edit and Polish the post.

I personally find that this stage works best for me if I have a break from writing – even an hour or two away from the post gives a little perspective and can help make final edits that take the post up a notch.

Good for the Writer and Good for the Reader

The other thing worth mentioning is that this style of writing (starting with a list) can end up producing articles that are not only easier to write – but easier to read.

I find that my readers often give more positive affirmations on a post if its broken down into a well organised flow and smaller sections.

This doesn’t mean you can’t go deep into a topic – but just think about how you can get to that deeper destination by breaking it down and ordering your points to get them to the place you want to take them.

How Do You Tackle the Writing Process?

Do you write outlines for posts or are you someone who prefers just to sit and write?

I’d love to hear a little about how you tackle the task of writing in comments below.

Further Reading:

If you’d like to learn a little more about my writing process check out my series – How to Craft a Blog Post which explores 10 points to pause in the writing of a post to make it a better post.

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. Hey Darren,

    I like the idea of making a list! I do that somewhat in a way. I will make the title and header titles first after putting some deep thought into what I will be writing about. Then I add the content. It usually ends up with me adding a few more headers and maybe changing the title a bit, ha ha. I think I might give lists a try though. Great post, sir!

  2. Hey Darren,

    You are so right pal. Practise does make things perfect and also when it comes to writing blog posts if you practise to write a little everyday then you can write better blog posts each week.

    I always try to come up with the title and then the main posts or sub-headings so that I can center my writing around those.

    I love the tips that you have provided and will be trying them out.

    Thanks Darren and keep up the good work.

  3. It’s ironic but at times I can write very fast and others perhaps not so much. When the creative juices are flowing I find the word come out faster but if I’m in the writers block then I’m constantly rewording sentences to find the best outcome. I like to think you’re right about speed not equaling quality, if you want something good you better take the time to produce it. I’ve never been one to type without looking this affect my productivity as I have to re read the entire post and edit things I’ve misspelled.

  4. Bashir Ahmed says:

    Hello Darren – Nice write-up!

    I liked the above mentioned tips in your post. I’d like to add that when you write blog post always compile the list and format then start writing it.

    Thanks for sharing awesome tips!

  5. Gin says:

    I agree with making that ‘points list’ but also in a manner of answering the what, when, where, who, and why can add to ‘enriching’ the post even if it’s only a couple of the ‘w’s, :)

  6. Ivana says:

    Hi Darren,
    thanks for this post, especially for the disclaimer and first advice/suggestionn. For me as a non-native English speaking blogger is important to repeat myself the practice will make all better :) I use the same technique of making a list and writing the intro at the end which I find very helpful. Also, sometimes it happens that first I come up with the conclusion, especially in shorter articles or film reviews as I have a clear idea what I wish to say by writing that particular post.
    Looking forward to your next posts!

  7. Vamsi M says:

    I like this and here is my trick. I use googles voice software to covert voice to text via mobile and then send a draft to my email. I make corrections and publish. Super fast, super easy and super efficient.

  8. Rhiana Jones says:

    Thanks for this article! I read it and using the techniques, I wrote a blog review I’d been putting off for weeks in only 10 minutes!

  9. Glenn Seddon says:

    I sometimes use dictation software after I’ve drafted an outline and simply speak the post out. It does take practice though, just like learning to type does I guess. Inevitably you still need to go back and fix up all the mistakes the software made.

  10. Laura says:

    My writing process is not much different from yours Darren. Instead of using the list however, I use Xmind a free mind mapping software which allows me to come up with subheadings for my post I then add notes to each heading. In each note I write full paragraphs so that by the time I’m done the map I export a virtually completed post to which I then just add introductions, heading tags, images and do once over final edit to

  11. Johanna says:

    Some great tips Darren, and I particularly like the structured way you go about it. Starting with a list is great. I generally start with an idea and expand and then edit, but I do think a more structured approach with a system is the way to go to get things moving a little more briskly.

    I’d love to know how long other bloggers take to write a post. For my travel site ZigaZag, a 1000 post with photos (edited to look pretty) can take 5 – 6 hours, then an hour for editing and basic SEO, and another 30 – 40 mins to promote it via newsletter/email and scheduling across social networks. On the other hand a helpful opinion piece on Lifestyle Fifty with only one or two photos, will take about 2-3 hours to finish.

    Sometimes I wonder if I’m over thinking the whole jolly lot!

  12. Kim Yuhl says:

    Darren, I love seeing your process. Thank you for sharing.

    I just wrote a similar post about writing more quickly, however mine was designed for the small business blogger that usually writes shorter posts. Two tips included in that post that I use regardless of length are:

    1. I always start with the end in mind. I usually formulate my takeway into one or two sentences before I begin writing. This doesn’t mean it won’t change but it helps having a destination so you can plot the most efficient journey.

    2. I try my hardest to refrain from editing while writing. This was very hard to implement as I am habitual backspacer. After putting tape over my delete key for a week, I am now much better. It is amazing the amount of time you save if you just let the words out without trying to make sure the spelling is correct or the right word is used. I even turn off the red squiggly lines so they don’t taunt me. As a perfectionist, it is sometimes hard to remember that a first draft is just that – a first draft.

  13. Alex Sol says:

    Great post, Darren and some very useful tips.
    I have been an on and off blogger for years and just recently I figured out that writing an outline for the blog post helps tremendously. If I don’t have a plan before hand, I keep jumping back and forth; adding, removing and moving paragraphs all over the place.

    … also I will read your “‘7 Ways to Stay Inspired and Avoid Bloggers Burn Out” post, I think I am starting to need it :)

    Thanks again,

    - Alex Sol

  14. Thanks Darren for the insight and help. I’m just getting into the process of blogging regularly. My writing offline has always been business project oriented with deadlines. While I’ve used much of the process you outlined above, I hadn’t applied it to my blogging. Duh! Helped me realize I need to look at my blogging as a “real business” project.
    A great tool for me, is Scrivener. I’m now using it for all my writing and I’m finding it easy to organize and reorganize my outline list as well as focus on shorter “tighter” paragraphs.

    Thanks again for all the tips and techniques you share.

  15. Emmanuel says:

    Nice post sir, your explanation is so easy to learn.Sir I have some many blogs in my blog page,but I still don’t know yet how to apply ,google goodies. I have tried to setup google Adsense and google Adword,I still have big problem in settingup account with them .. I have most of Traffic from outside of my shores, it is so fraustration for you to sit down ,compose some very Educative informations without been rewarded for it .. I guess u can help me .

  16. I like this site and you always give our new tips.This tips is very nice I personally start this tips.Thanks you.

  17. This is very similar how I do most of my posts. I usually start with the list, or maybe just a points hat I want to say, and let it sit there.

    List get’s a great possibility to view the whole thing in a single screen. You can look at it and see whether your ideas are lining up in a logical order, and those points are then easily reordered.

    I also do print draft posts and edit them with a pen. Not always, but when I remember, I try to read posts aloud, and pretend as if I’m speaking in front of audience. This helps to see the flow of paragraphs and whether they continue each other well enough.

  18. Before writing a post I jot down ideas and facts on a paper. Then I draw up an outline on a notebook. This way, I can always refer and get ideas for future posts from my notebook. I even write down ideas for future posts on the last page of the notebook. Since I use blogger as my platform, I do all my typing on blogger. I learned touch typing which helps to write faster and it’s more enjoyable to type.

  19. That was a wonderful post Darren.

    It is only consistent writing and thinking reading that can make one write posts fast like you said. The highlighting of points also is powerful to guide one’s post.

    Darren, I’m a victim of numbering points or listing points but I will stop that act now.

    Thanks…

  20. Whether it’s a meeting, an interview a debate/argument, a row or even a blog post, I’m sure each and every one of us have lots of examples of times we wished we’d said this, that or the other thing. I do anyway.
    To avoid this happening on my soon to be blog I’m using the list approach and thus my trusty notebook that goes everywhere with me (not very techie I know).
    I like to let an idea percolate for a few days. There’s potential posts in there with 20-30 points and reminders. Some will be written some won’t.
    I gotta say Darren this puts me firmly in the ‘needs to speed up’ camp – so much so I haven’t even started a blog yet. Not my own that is.
    I know it’s been a while since you started a blog but as Mrs Problogger launched recently I’m wondering what your thoughts are on just how much content you should have on launch day ?

    1 post – 2 posts – 4 videos, 2 posts – 1 ebook,6 podcasts,2 posts & a partridge in a pear tree ?

    I realize it’s a fairly open question and the answer will vary depending on the type of blog but given your readership let’s assume for a personal blog with an educational bent – much like your own.

  21. Hello Darren,

    I found this post very informative. And the thing which i totally agree with you is that make a list of points, this tip i use always whenever i write for my new post. Keep on sharing :)

    Thanks

  22. Drewry says:

    The blog writing process is one that takes patience. Additionally, to master the game of blogging, it takes a combination of creativity, speech recognition software, and patience. Many who want to be masters in the blogging and content marketing game desire to be overnight Internet marketing successes. Where most people fault that in the blogging process is writing engaging content. When you focus on creating quality content whether it be in the form of articles, blog posts, discussion forum threads, or optimized press releases for people to read, that’s when search engine rankings improve, online advertising revenue improves, along with virtually everything else associated with blogging and the content creation process.

  23. Hey Darren -

    I too use the list, or the bullet point method. However, most of the time I don’t usually sit down and start writing a post. For me, I will come up with a topic to write about, then at different times throughout the day I might think of something witty or interesting to say, so I will go and quickly write it down. Then, every time I do that I usually end up writing a paragraph in relation to my witty remark.

    Another thing I might do is do a quick rundown of what the post was about. By the end of the day I usually have a fairly long and interesting post. I will then do some editing, post some links and add a photo to complete my work. I am always impressed with how well my posts come together.

    Thanks for the great article Darren, you gave me some great new ideas to work with.

    Brian Connole
    HCG 411 Blog

  24. Just curious as to what, roughly, the ratio of time spent writing your blog posts to time spent promoting it would be. When you started out, did you ever feel concerned that the promotion process jeaopardized the content/ frequency of your posts?

  25. Rohan Mod says:

    After this post i found some of my mistakes that i make like writing big title which you said should be short and another mistake that i make is not using bullet points. But finally got a solution. Another one of my myth solved. On another blog i read that updating blog regularly brings traffic but you i am agree with your point that writing regularly improves writing skills and traffic is another thing. Thanks you Sir.

  26. Matt YLBody says:

    I’ve found what works for me is the grade school approach of using an outline with bulleted points. It helps me stay on track and speed up the writing process.

  27. Gina Hiatt says:

    Don’t you love it, though, when something just hits you and you quickly start typing and it’s out in 20 minutes? Granted that almost never happens to me. But it did the other day, and it was a good post that got a lot of comments (and one reader who unsubscribed because I used the word “peeps,” as in “talk to your peeps.) So I consider that a good sign.

    I almost always change the title, but I’ll start with a provisional title. I also send out an email announcing my blog post, so I try to do the email subject line at the same time. I’ve found with blog posts that I can’t outline them ahead of time. I’m a real “outliner” on bigger pieces, but for some reason, my blog posts are a little more stream of consciousness. When I’m done, I go back in and switch paragraphs around, add headings or bold or whatever is needed to make it read better.

  28. Abel Ligas says:

    I often write a plan out paper before i start write a blog. However I do it very slowly :(

  29. Ken Bauer says:

    Thanks for the post Darren, I would say practice is really the key.

    One thing I found is having a laundry list of ideas and any links or image/videos I want to include in the post.

    I also agree with your idea of walking away from the post for an hour or more before hitting the “post” button. I’ve found myself wanting to tweak things often by using this tactic. I find writing in the morning and then posting later in the morning or after going for lunch works well.

  30. Averol says:

    For me, I will come up with a topic to write about, then at different times throughout the day I might think of something witty or interesting to say, so I will go and quickly write it down

  31. Great stuff Derren
    The writing process is certainly sometimes a tough one and having tips like these can really help people.
    I personally just bash it out and then go back and rewrite parts I don’t like and then add the beginning and end.
    Of course your approach is a lot more formal and probably less error prone than mine, but whatever works right!

  32. Just like you mentioned, I always start with a bullet point list and then expand the same in the desired order. However, I am pathetic at re-editing and proofreading and that final polishing is what makes great blog posts and bloggers, I think.

  33. I just write. That’s the fastest method for me. I find if I organize the ideas just like you do, it helps too. But nothing beats just letting the ideas flow. When you take a break, you have a fresh perspective and add a few things here and there. I don’t critique my own work till I’m done with the draft. Sometimes editing is the part that slows me down, because I have to scrutinize.

    Thanks for the wonderful insights on your method, Darren. Really helpful.

  34. Hey Darren,

    Nice post on drafting a nice write-up and i liked your idea to create a list in and then explain it. Catchy subheads is another way to make your para more spicy and ending your post with a question will keep remember the post for longer term. You definitely share it on your social network.

  35. I usually write in a sitting and try not to make it perfect. Some posts come out really easily and there’s not a lot to polish after.

    Some I’m not so happy about but I publish them anyway and I go back and fine tune them later on: adding links, rewriting some parts, including a better image than the one I originally thought of, etc.

    It’s a… fluid process but I like it this way and it works best for me so I don’t feel like pulling my hair out to make it perfect :)

    Thanks for the tips, Darren!

  36. John Romaine says:

    Transcribe a video or a podcast.

    10,000 words of natural content in 15 minutes.

    BOOM!

  37. Enrique says:

    Thanks for this useful tips. My writting process is a little bit different due to the topic and i’m trying to improve it. I cannot sit and write. Every post I write takes me a lot of time and once it’s written I need to go over it until i’m sure all the code is fine.

  38. I’m just getting into the process of blogging regularly. Your tips will really help me. Since I use blogger as my platform, I do all my typing on blogger.
    Thanks for the great article Darren, you gave me some great new ideas to work with.

  39. Another amazing post with writing tips! I will definitely start following!!

    However, I need some suggestions about finding sub headings for an article. Do you have any resource written on the topic?

  40. George says:

    Thanks for explaining the on this “Make it Flow and Consider Format”,i usually write some thing in two or three sits,after reading that i will try to write in a single sit.

  41. Thanks for sharing Darren. I find that in my niche the frustration with writing is one of the main things that leads to a high number of low quality blogs. I think a lot of the struggles people have with blogging stems from the fact that many just sit down and try to start writing without planning out their current post or future posts. Any thoughts?

    I just noticed the comment by Al-Amin Kabir – the process I tend to use is to brainstorm out the points I want to make and then organize them into points and sub-points. This list of points and sub-points gives me the source for my headers and sub-headers.

  42. As always Darren I love to read your work, thoughts and insightful opinions. I just launched a new website and I’m excited because I will be blogging a great deal now about the site.

    Continue Success Guy!

  43. Darren, great insights here. I have, basically, the same strategies when writing posts, though I tend to generate my main points around examples and statistics I find while researching (rather than the other way around). I find this a faster method.

    I read an article (I think it was Hubspot) in which one of their bloggers used Evernote to dictate a 1,000 word post in 10 minutes (plus editing). Have you tried dictation? Do you think we’ll see more writing-by-dictation in the new year (as technology gets better?). Cheers!