Whether writing is a hobby or part of your job, you probably know the frustration of not getting as much writing done as you want in a day.
Sometimes it can feel like every other writer is racing ahead of you while you’re stuck in the mud, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Writing quickly and effectively is all about training your brain to think about the task in a different way.
There are a few simple tricks to get you in the right mindset. The first step is getting rid of those feeling of defeat and frustration.
Start with a clean slate, then try these steps.
1. First Draft? No Edits!
It doesn’t matter if you’re writing creative fiction or technical documents, the first draft is hard.
You have an idea of what you want to say, probably, but it’s a big idea and you’re not quite sure yet how you’re going to pin it down with individual sentences.
This is even harder if every time you finish a paragraph you look back and disparage yourself, realizing that what you’you’ve written isn’t as good as what you had planned.
The solution is to realize that what you write in the first draft is never going to be as good as what you wanted it to be. The first draft is for making mistakes, shaking out the wrinkles in your writing, and learning the “shape” of the piece.
You should only look back on your document once the first draft is done. You’ll have a clearer head, then, and you’ll be able to see the good along with the bad. The second draft and beyond is when you can really start fixing things up and making the document look like it should.
And the best part is, no one ever has to know what the first draft looked like. They’ll only see the finished, polished product.
2. Have a Plan
Make lists before you even get started.
Do your best to figure out the shape of what you want to write by jotting down some thoughts, even if they’re only keywords. These will act as anchors to help you pull yourself through the document quickly.
If you get stuck in the middle and don’t know what comes next, you’re going to have to take a break and eat into your writing time by trying to solve this problem. And if you can’t figure it out right away and frustration gets a hold on you, the situation just gets worse.
Consider your plan the map that you’ll use to get through this new, wild land that is your first draft.
3. Write in Sections
If it’s a big project, don’t feel like you need to tackle it all in one go!
You’ll actually write faster if you’re able to break the writing up into sections. Writing is taxing and your brain gets tired just like the rest of your body.
If you go into work thinking you’re going to be writing the whole thing in one sitting, you may get overwhelmed before you even start.
By writing in sections, you’ll create a momentum for yourself that will help you write faster. This will keep your brain from getting tired of what you’re doing and it’ll also have the added benefit of keeping you excited about the project, which is the most important part.
4. Take Breaks at the Right Time
There’s a secret to the success of taking productive breaks: always leave something unsaid.
If you have one-third of what you want to write planned ahead, take a break when you’re finished with a quarter of it, for instance. By always leaving a little bit left, you can take a break and know exactly what you’re going to start writing when you come back.
If you write until you’ve caught up with your own thought process, you’ll have a much harder time getting started and maybe even delay getting started because you have to think of where to start. Delays are the enemy of writing quickly and effectively!
5. Carry a Notebook
You never know when you’re going to have your next breakthrough idea.
When we’re having problems and feeling particularly stuck, our brains lock up. This is why we generally have breakthroughs once we step away from whatever it is we’re doing.
If you can’t write those new ideas down, though, you risk forgetting them or losing the inspiration.
So take a notebook with you wherever you go and only use it for your writing. Make a habit of writing in the book whenever you have any idea.
Even if you can’t use the idea for your current project, you might be able to come back to it later and include it in something else.
Keeping your brain active and your mind in the writing game is half the battle when it comes to writing quickly, constantly, and effectively.