One of the main qualities of a good freelance writer is their ability to not only write well but to write quickly.
This is especially true if you are at the beginning of your writing career. You must learn how to write faster because you need to write more; you are getting paid less.
And if you like eating three meals a day, and so does your dog, then you better learn to write faster before both of you are hungry — very hungry.
Here are a few tips to help you get started on becoming a faster writer. You and your dog can thank us for them later.
1. Plan to Succeed
Having a plan always saves a little time. So does being prepared. Have all your supplies and lots of coffee ready and then get to work.
All you need to get started are a few ideas, maybe just a few points you have scribbled down when you thought about the piece in the shower this morning. It doesn’t have to be a full outline, just enough to get your creative juices flowing. That and the caffeine almost always works.
2. Stop Searching for the Answer
The Internet is a great place to browse, go shopping and connect with your family and friends. But for a writer all time spent looking things up is time that you are not writing.
Few freelance writers have the luxury of spending much time searching and researching their stories anymore. They are writing to try to make money, and they have learned that they only need a few tidbits of researched knowledge to get them on their way.
One expert suggests spending no more than 10 minutes online to grab a few interesting facts or a quote before getting to work on writing the article or blog post.
3. KISS: Keep it Simple Simon (or Simone)
The clearest and easiest-to-read articles and blogs are the simplest ones. You don’t have to use fancy jargon or the perfect phrasing to get your point across.
Save time and energy by going directly to the main points that you are trying to make. Your audience and your editor will both be grateful, and you’ll certainly be finished with your writing project much faster.
4. Start and Don’t Stop
See the planning points above, but if you don’t start then you don’t finish. What are you waiting for? Don’t let deadline-anxiety cause you sleepless nights and hungry days.
Get started on your writing as soon as you get the assignment. Set your own deadline a day — or days — ahead of the actual deadline, get to work writing and don’t stop until you reach the finish line.
5. Finish Strong and Faster
Once you get started on a writing project, don’t let distractions pull you away from your computer.
Set some daily or even morning goals for yourself and then don’t leave your writing until you hit your target. It could be a completed article, or a section in a larger piece, or even a word count that you want to reach.
Remember it is much easier to maintain the momentum of writing after you begin. So start strong, finish strong and write faster.
6. Don’t Pretend to be an Expert
Most of us know a very little about an awful lot of subjects but are experts in only a few. You don’t have to represent yourself as an authority about all things running if you are a sprinter. Just write well about sprinting and find experts on distance running and marathons to quote on the rest.
Remember the basics of fast writing: clear, simple and easy to understand. Just be you, and don’t pretend to be an expert on everything. You’ll save yourself time and your reader’s exasperation.
7. Write Once and Revise Later
A good carpenter measures twice and cuts once. But you’re not a carpenter, you’re a writer. Focus on getting a good first draft down on paper and worry about revisions later.
Don’t interrupt the writing flow or second-guessing yourself along the way by constantly revising your document. Stay focused on finishing the piece, and then take a break.
Come back to it later and do your editing and revisions then. That way you will always have a sense of accomplishment, and your hungry dog will appreciate how fast your writing has become.
Are you a quick writer? What tips do you have for how to write faster?
(Photo Credit: Gilles Chiroleu)