When it comes to writing, you generally have to choose between speed or quality — you can’t have it both ways.
At least, that’s the classic line of thinking.
The truth is, things have changed a lot in the past decade, and there are tons of powerful new tools at your disposal.
By combining timeless writing methods with a more modern workflow, it’s possible to produce over 500 words per hour without sacrificing content quality.
Will you still need to spend time editing and polishing your work? Absolutely.
But if you want to pen that first draft in record time, this guide takes you through the latest tips and tricks of the trade.
How To Write Faster: 10 Tips & Tricks Of The Trade
Here are ten of the best tips and tricks for speeding up content creation, starting with a process that’s often overlooked.
1. Research First… Or Don’t
Research is a critical part of the writing process, but it can slow you down and interrupt your flow when done incorrectly.
Plan around potential interruptions by researching before you start writing.
Take a few minutes to gather critical data in a separate document or simply open another window with important tabs.
Then you can easily refer to the research without losing your train of thought.
Although less advisable, you can also take the opposite approach.
If you’re overflowing with ideas and the dam’s about to break, pull up your editor of choice and just let it all out.
Use your current knowledge to write the piece, then fill in the gaps when you edit.
If you take the latter approach, remember to come back and fact-check. You don’t want to present false information.
2. Make An Outline, And Say Goodbye To Writer’s Block
Staring at a blank page is intimidating (to say the least) and may put you off the task entirely.
Instead of spiraling into writer’s block, plan ahead and start with an outline of the most important headings.
It helps you better understand the topic, and it also breaks your writing into bite-sized chunks.
Think about it like this: It’s much easier to color a paint-by-number picture than a custom illustration, right? An outline works the same way — all you have to do is fill in the missing content.
There are many ways to outline, but it doesn’t need to be anything fancy. You can use <html> markup or number the different headings, counting up from one.
3. Write Now, Edit Later
Your first draft is probably going to suck.
While there are times when the perfect words pour out like craft coffee, that’s very much an exception to the norm.
You usually need to write now, edit later.
How do you write a rough draft?
Just let the words flow onto your document with little regard for whether they’re cohesive or enjoyable to read.
You can do minor line editing and tweak along the way, or you can restrict the backspace key altogether.
Either way, this process helps you quickly get all your ideas on paper. Then it’s a simple matter of polishing to perfection.
4. When In Doubt, Use Placeholder Text
Do you ever get hung up on a particular word or phrase?
There’s an old journalism trick called TK (an abbreviation for “to come”) that lets you skip past tricky spots.
Simply place the phrase TK wherever you’re having trouble, and continue writing.
Come back to that spot when you’re editing, and you’ll be surprised by how quickly the right words come to mind when you’re not desperately searching for them.
You can also use this trick for data points. If you’re trying to include a statistic or cite a specific source that you don’t have on hand, throw in a TK and add it later.
Pro Tip: Remember that CTRL+F opens up the search bar on any document or web page. Use it to find all the instances of TK on a page within seconds.
5. Constrain Yourself, Please
Constraints can help you produce content faster and more effectively. It’s like a deadline.
When you know something’s due on a particular date, you tend to get it done in time.
Use constraints to your advantage, and you’ll find that your writing comes out much faster.
There are a few different ways to add constraints to your workflow. Some of the most reliable options include:
. Schedule Time:
Create a writing schedule. Set aside a small amount of time (a half-hour is a great starting point), and spend the entire time writing.
If you have a hard time sticking to it, write it down in your calendar and talk about it with a friend for social accountability.
. Use A Pomodoro:
The Pomodoro Technique comprises a timer that lasts for 25 minutes.
Use the 25 minutes for intense, focused work, then spend 5 to 10 minutes relaxing. Repeat as many times as you like.
. Reward (Or Punish) Yourself:
An incentive makes it much easier to see a task through.
When you commit to a specific goal and accomplish it, reward yourself with a treat or some entertainment time.
Fail to follow through and a night without Netflix can prevent it from happening again.
6. Tap Into AI
While artificial intelligence is nowhere near as good as skilled human writers (yet), you may be surprised by the output.
Since the release of GPT-3 in 2020, several AI writing tools have come online. Some of the most popular include:
You can use these tools to help you finish particular sections of your writing.
Or, if you’re struggling to find a creative direction, you can use them to get the idea wheel turning.
7. Learn To Touch Type Once And For All
Your brain may spit out ideas in rapid-fire succession, but your fingers still have to keep up.
According to typing.com, the average typing speed is only 40 words per minute. Double this speed, and you can roll out content in half the time!
There are multiple ways to start typing faster.
If you’re a current “chicken pecker” using one finger at a time, learn to touch type.
If you already touch-type, play typing games to increase speed and awareness of the keyboard’s layout.
Your muscle memory takes a while to build up, but it’s well worth the time investment for increased productivity while working.
8. Don’t Do Anything — Automate It, Instead.
Are there any writing tasks that you perform regularly? If so, automate them!
There are multiple ways to automate your writing workflow, and the right solution depends on the particular task.
If you write the same type of content over and over (say, a buying guide or listicle), save a Google or Word Doc with all the essential headings in place.
Then, make a copy whenever you need to write that type of piece.
You can also apply automation to everyday writing tasks like emailing clients or colleagues.
Use a tool like Linguix to save common responses and paste them down with the click of a button.
9. Get Out Of Your Head
Most writers are notorious overthinkers. We get caught up in our heads, lose focus, and ultimately fail to live up to our high standards.
The solution? Get out of your head.
Whatever it takes to stop overthinking and start writing is okay.
You can grab a mind-altering drink like coffee. Or, opt for something a bit stronger.
You can also try a quick meditation. Take a minute to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, focusing on the rise and fall of your belly.
Then, zoom in on your monitor and attack your keyboard with newfound focus and determination.
If you’re struggling to get anything done and nothing else is working, it’s time to take a step back.
Getting frustrated is only going to slow things down, not increase speed. Go for a walk to clear your head, then sit down to try again.
As cliché as it sounds, practice makes perfect.
Routine practice helps improve your writing, streamlines your processes, and builds your confidence.
Whether you’re writing a blog post or an entire book, practice will help you develop speed over the long term.
At the end of the day, learning how to write faster is all about taking action.
Even though these tips are great prompts to get you started, it all comes down to finding what works for you and your creative process.
Try approaching your writing in new ways, experimenting and shaking things up whenever appropriate.
Do you have any tips or tricks for speeding up your content creation? Feel free to share your pro strategies in the comments below!