How much more successful would your business be if you could produce more content? While writing fast isn’t all that matters (quality’s important too!), the faster you can write, the more opportunities you’ll have to get your message in front of an audience.
If you are a developer or an entrepreneur who struggles with writing, then here are the ten quick tips that I use to help me write faster blog posts that are actually good.
1. Separate Your Writing Process into Distinct Stages
I often notice that people try to write a blog post by staring at a blank page until they come up with an idea, then writing the first sentence (and rewriting it ten times).
It’s much more efficient to break up the writing process into different stages:
- Coming up with ideas (a pitch)
- Doing research
- Planning your blog post (or whatever piece of content you’re writing)
- Drafting the post
- Editing the post
When it comes to ideas, research, and planning, try to batch tasks together: for instance, list ten ideas at once, or research three related posts so you don’t waste time going back over the same material again and again.
I strongly recommend using the Edit Flow plugin for WordPress because it helps you create different stages that I mentioned above.
If you’re having a hard time coming up with ideas, one of my sites, OptinMonster, has a list of 50 blog post ideas that you can write today.
2. Plan Every Post You Write
Don’t skip the planning stage, even if you’re a seasoned blogging pro. If you want to write fast and well, you need a plan.
This is especially crucial for ideas you’re not sure about. Creating a plan can help you decide whether or not they’re worth pursuing.
It might only take five minutes (or less) to jot down a few bullet-points for your post, but those points will keep you on track, so you don’t waste time writing paragraphs of material that you later cut.
Plus, a plan will help motivate you to get going. If you plan your posts in advance, you’re never starting with a blank page.
3. Write at Your Most Creative Times of Day
Some entrepreneurs are most productive and creative in the mornings; others prefer evenings. Whatever time of day works for you, use it. You might well find that an hour at your best time of day is worth three at your worst time.
If you’re not sure when you’re at your best, experiment with writing at several different times of day and see which feels most effortless to you.
If it’s truly impossible for you to use your best hours (perhaps you’re still working a day job), then make sure you’re using the other tips on this list to really enhance the hours you do have.
4. Aim to Eliminate Interruptions
One of the key reasons why entrepreneurs struggle to produce content as fast as they want to is because their writing time gets interrupted frequently.
If you’re always available for emails and phone calls and Skype chats and Facebook messages, you could easily find yourself spending all your writing time dealing with those tasks.
Eliminate as many interruptions as you possibly can. Switch off your phone, close your email program, use the WordPress distraction-free writing interface and shut your office door. If you’re in an open-plan office, wear headphones – even if you’re not listening to anything through them.
5. Draft the Whole Post Before You Edit It
When you’re working on a blog post or other piece of content, it’s very easy to start editing as you’re going along. Perhaps you decide midway that you want to change direction, and you go back to the introduction to rework everything you’ve written so far.
Unsurprisingly, this seriously hampers your forward momentum and makes it difficult to ever finish everything. Instead, keep moving in the right direction: if you do decide to make major changes, jot down brief notes (“rewrite first three points to fit new title”) and just keep going.
You can fix what needs fixing once the draft is complete.
6. Don’t Stop to Look Things Up
Have you ever paused in your writing to look up a quick fact or URL only to find yourself aimlessly surfing the web twenty minutes later? When you get back to your post, you might spend several minutes trying to remember where you were going next. It’s very easy to do, and it’s incredibly disruptive to your writing.
Instead of stopping, make a note about what you need to know and just keep moving. If you want to link to a blog post, for instance, write “[ADD TITLE AND LINK]” and move on. You might want to highlight these sections so they’re easy to spot when you edit.
7. Use a Checklist for Key Parts of Your Post
If you find yourself spending valuable writing time trying to remember the elements that should go in your post or newsletter – or valuable editing time fixing everything you accidentally left out – then try using a checklist.
For a blog post, it might look something like this:
- Make title compelling
- Begin post with eye-catching image
- Introduction: start with question, quote, or bold statement
- Main body: break into short paragraphs, use H3 for subheadings
- Conclusion: sum up, add call to action
You might want to use a standard template for all your posts or newsletters – this doesn’t need to be complicated. It helps you produce high-quality content even when you’re in a rush.
8. Write in a Natural, Conversational Tone
Try to write your blog posts in an informal way – as though you’re chatting to the reader over coffee. Although this can take a little bit of time to get used to, it’s a much faster (and better) way to write than sounding stilted and formal.
If you find yourself struggling with this, pretend your blog post is an email where you’re answering a fan’s question. You don’t need to use a fancy vocabulary or long, complex sentences – just write the answer in the words that come naturally to you.
9. Preview Your Post Before Editing
Have you ever published a post that you’ve carefully edited only to immediately spot several typos? Self-editing can be tricky. It’s easy to miss mistakes because you know what you think you wrote.
Simply viewing your post as it would appear on your blog (previewing it) can help those mistakes leap out at you. It can also help you to sit back and see the bigger picture of your post.
You may need to make more significant edits than simply fixing spelling mistakes.
To make spell check easier, I use After the Deadline browser extension.
10. Start Your Next Post Before Stopping for the Day
If a lot of your writing time seems to get eaten up in “getting started”, this should make all the difference. Instead of stopping for the day when you’ve finished the piece of content you’re working on, start the next one.
This might simply mean copying your plan into a fresh document or post, and writing the first two lines.
Now when you start work the next day, you’re already part-way through a post and you won’t have your usual resistance to beginning. Use this technique before stopping for lunch or a break, too.
Which of these tips will you be trying out today? Which do you think will make the biggest difference to your writing speed – and writing quality? Let me know in the comments below.
You may also want to check out my 10 Two-Minute Tweaks to Instantly Revitalize Your Blog.
This post originally appeared on SyedBalkhi.com, and is re-published with permission.
Featured Image: Marta Paniti/Shutterstock.com
In-post Photo #1: Milanin tata/Shutterstock.com
In-post Photo #2: PathDoc/Shutterstock.com
In-post Photo #3: LiliGraphie/Shutterstock.com
In-post Photo #4: ChristianChan/Shutterstock.com
Screenshot by Syed Balkhi. Taken July 2015.