Here’s how you can start writing better, faster and more:
1: Create an outline. Your outline is your plan, and it’s going to make your entire task easier for 3 reasons:
Having a plan diffuses procrastination. When we look at a project our mind tells us it’s big – too big. This causes stress, which makes us want to avoid the whole thing. By having a plan, we can break the writing down into manageable, stress free steps.
Having a plan keeps you from wandering off topic. If you have a simple outline to follow, it’s just a matter of filling out each section of the outline. But without a plan, you could waste a great deal of time writing about things that in the end don’t even pertain to your main topic.
It makes research super easy. Once you have an outline, researching can be as simple as Googling each item on your outline. Without a plan, your research can lead you into never-ending time-wasting circles.
2: Once you’ve got your outline, set it aside for an hour or a day and let it bake in your brain.
By setting it aside, you can let your mind focus on something else. Meanwhile, your subconscious is still working on that outline. You’ll be surprised by what your subconscious gives you. All of a sudden you’ll realize you left out the most important part, or you’ve found a much better way to illustrate your main point.
3: Write every day. Writing, just like anything else, is a skill. The more you do it, the better and faster you will get.
Write even when you don’t ‘feel’ like it. As Stephen King has said, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.”
Or as another writer stated, “I wait for inspiration to strike. Fortunately for me, it strikes every day at 9 am.”
Even if you absolutely, positively do NOT want to write, tell yourself you’re going to write for just 15 minutes. Then start writing. You can write anything – anything at all – but you must write. Pretty soon you’ll be working on your project and wondering why you were feeling such resistance to something you actually enjoy.
4: Use deadlines in your favor. Without a deadline, there is no stress. With no stress, your brain puts off the task of writing for later. After all, writing takes brain power, effort, thinking and decision making – things your brain would rather put off until later. Or never.
But when you have a deadline, you have stress to get the job done. The closer the deadline, the more stress. To relieve the stress, you’ve got to get busy. Now your brain is telling you to, “Write now!”
If self-imposed deadlines work for you, then you know what to do. If not, you’ll have to find a way to get others to hold you accountable for your deadlines. For example, telling your blog readers that your next post goes live on Tuesday at 10 am PST should work nicely.
No blog readers yet? Have a friend hold you accountable. If you don’t make your deadline, you owe them dinner.
5: Focus on the “feel goods.” Back when I had a regular job, I loved my days off. I especially loved them when I knew well in advance that they were coming.
But if I found out that morning that I wasn’t working, then half the joy of having time off was gone. There was no anticipation. No looking forward to that day off. Frankly, I felt ripped off if I didn’t know I wasn’t working until that same morning.
You can use this knowledge to self-motivate yourself. Think about how great it will feel to hit publish or send. Think about closing the file and doing something you love as a reward. Think about the accolades you’ll receive for finishing the project, or the money you’ll earn, or whatever it is that motivates you to keep working until you’re done.
6: Turn off the internet. Some folks, me included, tend to get distracted by the internet. We think we’re going to ‘sneak off’ for 5 minutes to check Reddit, and an hour later we still haven’t gotten back to work.
So whenever possible, just disconnect your wifi. Turn off your cell phone. Remove anything else that tends to distract you. And then go to work.
7: Speed up your typing. If you’re not able to type at least 50 words per minute, maybe it’s time you improved your typing skills.
It’s difficult when your thoughts are coming faster than your fingers can tap them out. But you have options:
- Type faster. There are plenty of free and paid courses online that will teach you how to touch type faster.
- Use a voice to text program such as Dragon Naturally.
- Record yourself and have it transcribed.
Writing by itself isn’t hard. It’s all the baggage we attach to it that makes it difficult.
But if you can think of writing as simply assembling the pieces to a puzzle, you’ll do it much better and faster.