“Time is money”… whether you like it or not.
After all, the faster you write, the more money you earn by the hour on per-post or per-project rates.
When I started freelance blogging, it took me a long time to get 500 words done – about one afternoon, I’d say. I realized that, if this was going to be my main income, I’d have to boost my productivity so I could get more writing done in a day.
So, I started googling articles on productivity and drew on fellow freelancer’s experiences to try to find out what would best suit me.
But here’s the thing, though: most productivity methods just didn’t do the trick for me.
For instance: almost every article I read quoted the Pomodoro Technique, which can be great for certain activities but, as a writer, it didn’t do me any good. In fact, some productivity methods just made me anxious, which ended doing more harm than good.
After gathering a few bits and pieces of many different blog posts and testing out a few methods of my own, I came up with six hacks to speed up my writing. In a matter of weeks, I went from writing 500 words in an afternoon to 1000 words in an hour.
There are a few obvious elements that will help you write faster, such as:
- how deeply you identify yourself with the subject you’re writing
- the amount of references available
- the complexity of the topic
If you have none of these components in your favor, it will take much longer to get the work done.
I found these techniques help me either way, but I do take a lot more time to write about a subject I don’t master.
Anyway, let’s get to it!
1: Collect references before you begin
Gathering and reading your reference material before you actually start to write helps optimize your time, since you won’t need to stop to do research while in the middle of writing.
What I like to do is read whatever I can find about the subject, take a few notes and only then start my writing. This helps me with my workflow while also adding more “juice” to the article with in-depth references.
“Ok, but how do I find good references?”
If the online sources you found were too superficial, hit the books! Sometimes, a short chapter might be hiding the answers you are looking for.
You can also try channeling your inner journalist by interviewing experts on your blog post topic. Not only will you be creating original content, but it’s a great way to equally promote you and your interviewee.
If you are writing for a client, you can often collect background material directly from them with only a few e-mail exchanges.
2: Start with titles and subheadings
I never start writing a blog post from the introduction. Instead, the very first thing I do is write and format the title and subheadings.
This helps organize the blog post and keep important subjects in mind as I go, which prevents me from drifting away from the topic or having to stop and think, “What’s next?”
It also gives me a better idea of the length of the content – the more subheadings I have, the more I write.
3: Ask yourself the questions your readers might have
While you might not want to include the questions themselves in the article, this is a great method for keeping in mind what information you should insert into your blog post.
Adding passive answers to these questions will help to fill in your paragraphs faster and in a clearer way. You can do this by giving a little bit more background on the subject with historical facts, inserting real or hypothetical examples, and so on.
For instance: let’s say you’re writing a blog post about SEO tools for optimizing blog posts. Readers might wonder what SEO is, why it matters, and whether it requires them to change their actual content or just the way they present it. Try giving them these answers before jumping into the tools themselves.
4: Write from your head
Sometimes, writers stick closely to their technical references to create a blog post, which forces you to go back-and-forth from writing to reading. Using your own words, however, is the fastest way to get the job done.
This reinforces the importance of good research: the more you know about the subject, the easier it gets – and the faster you go!
If there’s a section of your post that needs more attention to write and is, therefore, more time-consuming, I like to leave that for last. This is basically the same principle as when you’re taking a test: if you start with the questions that seem easiest, you can score points quickly. This way, not only will you get things done faster, but you’ll feel more confident in your writing, too.
5: Stop overthinking
I’ve got to admit: to this day, I still struggle with overthinking.
- “Should I write this down?”
- “Is this good enough?”
- “Am I drifting off subject?”
Overthinking busts your creativity, and creativity is the best fuel for faster writing. If it doesn’t look good, you can rethink it later, while you’re editing.
And, speaking of editing…
6: Don’t edit as you go
Writing while simultaneously editing a blog post can seriously slow you down.
If you feel like there might be any mistakes or missing details in your blog post, fix them once you are finished with your content, not while you’re working on it. Editing as you go is guaranteed to distract you and make you lose momentum.
Remember: writing is a process!
I’m a big fan of processes, so I decided to have one for my writing. Instead of just waiting for inspiration to strike – and ultimately feeling blocked and frustrated – I found that working step-by-step for my writing helps me create better blog posts in way less time.
So if you want to write faster – and better! – blog posts, give some of my techniques a try. And if you feel like you could adapt them to suit you better (like I did), then go right ahead.
What about your own ideas for faster writing? If you have a great tip that I didn’t mention here, please share it with us in the comments — thank you! 🙂