Today, you have unlimited opportunities as a writer. Unfortunately, you may not be taking advantage of those opportunities because “you don’t have time.” In essence, you’re crippling yourself. You can write faster, while writing well — and while getting more done.
Write faster — your writing will automatically improve
One of the most popular comments I get when I suggest to writers that they can write faster is: “But if I do that, won’t I write junk?”
You might well do, if you don’t have processes in place which ensure that you use all of your abilities. “Write faster” is wonderful advice, but you need to know how to do it.
We’ll look at the most important strategies to help you to write faster, and improve your writing at the same time, but firstly, let’s answer the “why?” question.
WHY write faster? Because:
- You’ll make more sales. Not only will you be able to take on more clients, but you’ll also be able to do more marketing for your writing services and products like books;
- You’ll be more creative when you’re more productive — ideas come when you’re writing;
- You’ll become more confident. Your confidence will attract more clients and will help you to make more sales; and finally…
- You’ll enjoy writing more. It will be fun, rather than a chore.
Now let’s look at the strategies.
1. Use tools for organization and creation: many of the best tools are free
I’ve written about the tools I use many times on my blogs — Scrivener, Evernote, Trello…
The tools YOU use will be different from the tools which I find indispensable, and it will take time for you to find the right tools for you, and to learn how to use them. However, finding the best tools for you, AND learning how to use them is a wonderful investment of your time and energy.
Many of the best apps for writers are free. Many are not. I consider Scrivener indispensable; I’ve been using it for a decade. Scrivener’s price is trivial compared to what it helps you to do — and the mindsets it helps you to create.
I come from a long line of farmers. When my parents first emigrated to Australia from Germany many years ago, they bought a farm. For a year or two, my father plowed our fields with a draft horse; we couldn’t afford a tractor. The thing with horses is that they have opinions. You can spend a lot of time convincing a horse that dragging a plow through hard earth — and keeping a straight line — is a good idea.
Finally, we could afford a tractor. A tractor doesn’t have opinions. It starts, you plow. Over the years, whenever writers tell me that they “can’t afford” tools which will make their writing lives easier, I remember the difference between plowing fields with a horse or a tractor. These writers generally aren’t even using a horse. They’re digging their fields with a spade and a shovel. It’s painful to watch.
Forget the spades and shovels. Find the tools you need, and use them.
2. Separate your writing processes: create your raw materials first
“Writing” isn’t one thing. It’s many things:
- Idea generation;
- Idea development with tools like prewriting and mind mapping;
- Creating titles;
- Publication in one form or another…
On Facebook today, our writing exercise was: a writer’s most important task is creation (get it done). I discussed perfection:
Sadly, perfection isn’t possible, and it’s dangerous. Here’s why. Your sole task as an author/ writer/ blogger is to create. Your challenge is to create something out of nothing. If you try to create something “perfect” when you’re looking at the blank computer screen, it would be like a jeweler looking at a lump of gold and a few rough diamonds, and then aiming to create the perfect ring in ONE STEP.
To repeat: writing isn’t one thing, it’s many things.
Create your raw material first, with processes like free writing, and mind mapping, and then convert those raw materials into projects.
Once you commit to separating out the various processes which go into writing a project, you’ll not only write faster, your writing will improve as well.
3. Set tight deadlines: chunk tasks, working backward from your deadlines
Ah, deadlines. 🙂
Deadlines cause writers more hassles than anything else. Primarily I’ve found it’s because writers cripple themselves by failing to use tools which can help, and failing to identify all the processes which go into a project.
My best advice:
- Set tight deadlines. Your own deadline should always be a few days before the “real” deadline, so that you have wiggle room;
- Use processes (see above) so that you can chunk any project right down into tasks. Each task should take around 20 minutes. If a task takes longer, chunk it down more.
- Realize that speed comes with practice. You’ll be SLOW at first. Eventually, you’ll have found tools which help, and the processes which go into writing specific kinds of projects will become second nature to you. Be patient with yourself until you’ve developed productive habits — you need to go slowly, before you can speed along. 🙂
Write faster, but be prepared to write slowly while you’re learning the processes which make that possible
When a writer tells me that he “doesn’t have time” to learn a tool like Scrivener, I tell him that he doesn’t have the time not to learn. He’s using a shovel and spade, when he could be using a tractor.
What would your writing life look like if you could take on three times the number of clients you’re working with now? And if you had the confidence to charge them more? Or if you could write three books in the time it’s taking you to write one today?
Today, you have unlimited opportunities. More writers than ever before are making six figure incomes, and in lots of cases, seven figure incomes — that’s still amazing to me, but today, it’s possible.
Writers always ask me for “secrets.” If you want to write faster, and improve your writing, be prepared to write slowly at first. It’s well worth whatever time and energy it takes to learn how to write faster. 🙂
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