“When my horse is running good, I don’t stop to give him sugar.”
William Faulkner

If you plan to make a living as a writer, you must learn to write fast. Words are your merchandise. Your blog posts, articles, e-books, e-courses, and even your podcasts and video clips are all part of your inventory. The faster you create useful content and put it in front of your audience, the greater is your earning potential.

Quick + Good = Successful Writer

Many writers believe that writing fast equals poor quality. Wrong! You can write fast and still create high-quality content.

As Sally Hendrickson says in her e-book, How To Write For Kindle – a non-fiction book in 72 hours or less, the Fast Quality Writer can write quickly, write well, and create a sustainable ongoing income.

However, before you aim to speed up your writing, you need to estimate your present writing speed (duh!).

Calculate your writing speed = Words / hour

Set your timer (or cell phone alarm) for ten minutes.

Write for ten minutes continuously, without stopping or editing.

Stop when the timer beeps and count the number of words.

Multiply the number of words you wrote by six to find out how many words you can write in an hour.

(For example, if you wrote 200 words in ten minutes, congratulations! Your current baseline writing speed is 200 x 6 = 1200 per hour.)

Whatever your current writing speed, you can and must constantly strive to improve it.

Six Hacks to Double Your Writing Speed

1. Minimize distractions

Designate blocks of time for writing and focus on a specific writing project during this time. Turn off your phone, the internet and all other programs on your computer. As Mr Han tells his student in The Karate Kid, “Your focus needs more focus.”

2. Plan before you write

The biggest cause of writer’s block is to approach the blank page with a blank mind. So start your writing session either by writing an outline or drawing a few mind maps.

3. Use a timer

Set an alarm for 15 to 45 minutes and don’t stop writing until it goes off.

You can use the Pomodoro Technique, a time-management system that uses 25-minute writing sessions followed by a 5-minute break.

4. Don’t edit while writing

The most effective way to complete your first draft fast is to write it without stopping to edit the previous word or the previous line. And yet, you find it almost impossible to do this. The urge to fiddle with whatever what you have already written is so irresistible that the only way to stop is to turn off the monitor so that you can’t see what you are typing.
(If you use a laptop, you may have to cover the monitor with a cloth.)

5. Don’t stop to research while writing

If you need to research anything, just mark it with *** and move on. After you complete your first draft, you can search for “***” and fill in the gaps.

6. Track your progress

Count the words that you have written at the end of every writing session and calculate words written per hour. Maintain a record and make sure that your writing speed is improving over time.

In her best-selling book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott writes that almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. The first draft is the down draft – you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft – you fix it up. And the third draft is the dental draft where you check every tooth.

Moral of the story: Write fast and revise slowly.

Useful Links:

Shitty First Drafts – Anne Lamott from Bird by Bird

Super-Efficient Writing: How I Consistently Write Over 1,000 High-Quality Words in Less Than 60 Minutes – Danny Iny’s post in Lifehack.org

Tips And Tricks For Writing Fast (And Professionally!) – Samar Owais

(29 January 2014)

Rohi Shetty is a freelance writer who riffs about the importance of humor, mindful mojo, and creative entrepreneurship at http://rohishetty.com. He is also a star student of Danny Iny’s Audience Business Masterclass.

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