Our guide offers a list of 18 practical tips that will help you learn how to write faster and press publish more often.
Do you want to learn how to write faster?
Years ago, I was frustrated with my writing time. It took me days to complete basic writing projects like blogging articles or even rough drafts. I couldn't beat writer's block, let alone meet a word count or submit articles on time. My freelance writing business suffered, and I didn't hit my yearly writing goals for a long time.
I eventually realized I needed to tweak my process if I wanted to improve my writing skills.
Using the writing tips I've listed below, I improved my writing speed and submitted and published more work on time. I also used some of these strategies to write books.
- 1. Outline Your Work In Advance
- 2. Prepare Your Writing the Night Before
- 3. Ensure Correct Ergonomics
- 4. Eliminate All Distractions
- 5. Practice Your Typing Skills
- 6. Write The Way You Speak
- 7. Use Dictation Or Transcription Software
- 8. Write Now, Edit Later
- 9. Use Placeholder Words
- 10. Separate Writing From Proofreading
- 11. Use Editing Software To Fix Typos
- 12. Balance Quality With Quantity
- 13. Keep a Writing Routine
- 14. Write Every Day
- 15. Stick To What You Know
- 16. Use a Timer
- 17. Avoid Perfectionism
- 18. Set Two Deadlines
- How To Write Fast: The Final Word
- FAQs About How To Write Fast
- Voice Dictation Resources
1. Outline Your Work In Advance
Writing quickly is much simpler when you've worked out what you're going to say. Before you start writing your first draft, create a simple bullet-point outline. Tools like Dynalist or even index cards are good for this.
Start by answering these questions:
- What is the article about?
- What are the key ideas for each section?
- What takeaways do you have for the reader?
Sum it all up in five to ten bullet points. Lay the ideas out in your writing app. Then, organize them. It's easier to edit and rearrange bullet points than hundreds of words of text.
2. Prepare Your Writing the Night Before
Laying out your notes, ideas, and research the night before offers two benefits:
One, you can sit down at your desk and start writing a great article immediately the following morning.
Two, it triggers your brain to work on the piece or idea subconsciously, meaning you’ll find it easier and faster to express yourself once you do sit down to write.
3. Ensure Correct Ergonomics
Consider the ergonomics of your work desk; you need to clearly see the words as they go up on the page. Think about the contrast on your computer screen. How bright is the computer? Is it causing a lot of eye strain?
You may want to consider inverting the color scheme on your computer–this means that you can make the background of the page black and the text white. Depending on the light level in the room, this could be more comfortable for your eyes and reduce strain.
While writing, get as comfortable as possible. You might want to invest in a good writing desk or chair that takes the pressure off your back. Make sure your keyboard is at an appropriate height as well. If you have the room and the budget, a standing desk is an even better choice.
You should also make sure the screen is at an appropriate level for your eyes. If it's too far up, you'll get eye strain, and if it's too far down, you'll get neck strain.
Once you are comfortable while writing, you can focus on your ideas instead of on any discomfort you're experiencing.
4. Eliminate All Distractions
If you want to write faster, eliminate distractions for your working area. There are several common distractions that can make it difficult to focus during the act of writing. These include:
- A TV on in the background
- Music with lyrics
- Social media notifications
- A noisy phone
If you're facing lots of distractions, you'll have a hard time concentrating. Personally, I love sports. It is tempting to put ESPN on in the background while I work, but I've learned the hard way that it is a terrible idea for me.
Unfortunately, I know if ESPN is on the TV, I'm unlikely to write fast. In order to eliminate this distraction, I have to move to a room that does not have a TV in it, so there is no chance I can put on ESPN.
If you enjoy music but find that songs with lyrics distract you, try finding playlists of instrumental music. Not all instrumental is elevator music! There's some great electronic, acoustic, and even hard rock that has no distracting voices.
Try searching for playlists on apps like Spotify with names like ‘study music' or “focus music'. These tend to be at least an hour-long and contain mellow background music that won't distract you while you work.
If you need help eliminating digital distractions like social media, remember to leave your phone in another room from where you write. You can also use apps like Rescue Time and Freedom App to block internet access for predetermined periods.
5. Practice Your Typing Skills
Typing speed matters if you want to master writing fast. You can use Typing.com or purchase software from Amazon to improve the speed and accuracy of your typing.
Instead of spending a lot of time hunting and pecking at the keyboard, you can focus on your narrative while maintaining a smooth writing flow. A good keyboard for writing can also dramatically reduce typos. If you suffer from RSI, consider buying a good mouse for carpal tunnel syndrome.
6. Write The Way You Speak
If you're encountering writer’s block, write like you are talking to a good friend. Visualize carrying on a conversation with the reader if you have to! Sometimes writing as if to a friend helps you say more in less time. Your outline serves as speaking notes for this conversation. You can always tidy up and edit for clarity later.
This tip works well as you can write while out for a walk, and walking breeds creativity. You can easily dictate on the go using a voice recorder or an app like Dragon Anywhere or Otter.ai.
7. Use Dictation Or Transcription Software
This is another one of those great tips that people often don't know about–Take advantage of dictation and transcription software programs!
If you are exploring speech-to-text software programs for the first time, check out Otter.AI, Dragon Anywhere or Google Docs.
As long as your computer has a microphone, you can speak to your computer instead of typing. This method for writing fast will reduce errors, increase your speed, and prevent wrist injuries.
Dragon learns the intricacies of your particular voice, improving accuracy the longer you use it. It's a great program to use if you want to get more value from your dictation.
You can also explore human transcription services like Rev for increasing your writing speed while guaranteeing accuracy. That said, you'll need a bigger budget. It costs $1.25 per minute.
8. Write Now, Edit Later
If you use transcription software, edit your work at the end, not as you go. If you try to edit your work and dictate it you won't get the benefit of the speed it offers. Continually stopping to correct small mistakes will slow your writing process way down.
Furthermore, you'll overlook a lot of transcription mistakes. You will probably see what you intended to write, not what is actually there.
Instead, wait until you get to the end of your rough draft. Then, edit it from start to finish.
If you need help, check out our self-editing checklist.
9. Use Placeholder Words
A placeholder word stands in for some research or a gap in your work. They enable you to keep writing without stopping to go down a research or Google rabbit hole.
The most usable placeholder word or phrase is “TK”. It stands for “to come”. No words in the English language begin with this phrase, and you’ll spot it quickly in your work while self-editing. It also won't screw up formatting during the editing process.
10. Separate Writing From Proofreading
Even though proofreading is a critical part of the writing process, you need to separate these two tasks. You can't write and edit at the same time.
When I was trying to write quickly, I edited as I wrote my assignments. Like many beginning writers, I thought this would save me a lot of time. It turned out to be the opposite–it slowed me way down!
Unfortunately, far too many errors fell through the cracks. A lot of clients were unhappy with my work. Fortunately, my clients gave me another chance, and I changed how I proofread my work. Both my writing and speed improved immediately.
If you are using dictation software, proofread carefully. Leave this until the end of the assignment. Then, read over everything one more time, and try to catch your mistakes.
11. Use Editing Software To Fix Typos
It is impossible to catch every typo. Delegate some of these writing tasks to advanced programs; the best grammar checker software will help you find and fix typos faster.
Even though perfectionism is the bane of many writers, you can shorten the amount of time you spend proofreading if you use a program you trust to catch these mistakes as you write.
These programs won't catch everything, but they can help you eliminate writing mistakes that can hurt your reputation. These programs can also catch stylistic mistakes, particularly if you are producing non-fiction work.
12. Balance Quality With Quantity
It's frustrating to find you're not writing as many words per minute or per hour as you'd like. Instead of focusing on writing as many words as possible, make every word count. Concision breeds clarity.
Fortunately, you don't have to sacrifice the quality of your writing just because you would like to write faster. You simply have to use your time wisely.
If you take advantage of advanced software programs such as the Hemingway App and plan out your work accordingly, you can get the most out of every word you put on the page while still meeting your deadlines.
13. Keep a Writing Routine
To write faster and to keep a regular writing habit, you need a set schedule. That way, you can get in the right frame of mind more easily. Think carefully about personal obligations you have to take care of. Then, plan out how you can schedule undisturbed writing time around your personal obligations.
Again, I am someone who loves sports. If I want to watch the football game during the weekend, I know I have to get my writing work done. I take a look at how many projects I have, calculate the number of words I have to write, and think about how long this is going to take me.
Then, I look for a block of time in my schedule when I can sit down and knock everything out. That way, I allow enough time to work, give myself a few minutes to get in the right frame of mind and make sure I keep my personal obligations as well.
14. Write Every Day
Writing is like exercising a muscle–the more you do it, the better, faster, and stronger you'll get. Your writing will become lean and efficient, saying a lot in a few words and becoming clear and precise.
This only works if you commit to writing on a constant, daily basis. If you only write occasionally and spend most of your time doing all the other parts of running a writing business, you won't get that practice in.
Try doing free-writing exercises if you need to exercise your writing muscle or you have trouble starting for the day. First, start a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. Then, open up a document or a notepad, and write whatever comes into your head.
Don't stop for anything until the timer goes off! You're not trying to be clear or have perfect grammar. You're just trying to warm up your writing muscles, the way athletes stretch their muscles before a race.
15. Stick To What You Know
If you're an aspiring freelancer, you'll probably take on lots of projects. After all, the more work you have, the more you can earn. When I first tried to become a writer, I picked up freelance writing projects I didn't know anything about.
For example, if you pick up a project on computer coding, you better be familiar with python, C#, or whatever the writing assignment is about. Otherwise, you are going to make a bad impression on the client and spend hours frantically researching down rabbit holes about a subject that can take years to master.
Even though the writing is an opportunity to learn about new topics, you do need to be careful with what you pick up. Think of every assignment as an audition. If you make a good impression on the client, they are going to request more work from you.
If you try to write about something you know nothing about, it is going to take you an inordinate amount of time. Furthermore, the client will probably be unhappy with the work.
This doesn't mean that you can only write about things you're an expert on. General subjects are easier to research, while the more specific a topic is, the more you should know about the subject before taking it on.
16. Use a Timer
The Pomodoro Technique for writers can help you produce more words in less time. Essentially, set a timer for 25-30 minutes and write without interruption until the buzzer sounds. Then, Stop writing.
Stop mid-sentence if you have to! Take a short break and repeat. After three to four sessions take a longer break. Eat. Nap. Go for a walk. Then get back to it for your next session.
This technique works well as it forces you to write faster and allows time for your mind and self-discipline muscles to recharge. It can also wire your brain to focus more heavily on your work for longer bursts of time, improving your deep focus.
17. Avoid Perfectionism
Understand when enough is enough. Pursuing perfectionism is physically and mentally demanding. There's nothing worse than staring at a blank page and being scared to put anything down because you worry it'll sound cringeworthy or dumb.
If you try to write when you are tired, unmotivated, or disinterested, your writing quality will suffer tremendously. This will lead to confused readers and unhappy clients, so it's important to stick to your schedule.
When you feel your mind starting to go, it is time to step away for the day. Even though it will take you longer to finish your work, you will keep the quality of your writing high if you put your work to the side and come back tomorrow. That way, you can write quickly without sacrificing quality.
18. Set Two Deadlines
Parkinson’s law states:
Work expands to fill the time allotted.
This law applies to most writing projects. Give yourself a month and it'll take a month. If this happens to you, remember deadlines have a way of focusing the mind.
I recommend creating two deadlines. The first deadline is one based on your client's needs of requirements. The second deadline is ideally earlier than the first deadline, so you've extra time when life intervenes.
Your work might not be perfect but it’s much easier to get feedback from a client or your readers if you ship it or submit it early.
How To Write Fast: The Final Word
Whether you're a blogger or an author, learning how to write fast takes practice. But like a weightlifter in the gym, you can build writing muscles and produce more each week.
Get comfortable and create an outline before you start writing. Take advantage of advanced dictation software, and place quality over quantity. Track your progress and maintain your focus on shipping.
FAQs About How To Write Fast
How come I do not catch all of my mistakes when I proofread?
If you try to proofread your work as you go, your eyes often see what you intended to write instead of what is actually on the page. That is why you should take a break when you reach the end of a draft, let the work set for a little while, and then proofread it.
Try setting it aside overnight, if possible. Otherwise, a couple of hours away from it will give you a fresh perspective.
Is It A Good Idea For Me To Use Dictation Programs To Write Faster?
Dictation programs can increase the speed you write at while also preventing your wrists from developing carpal tunnel. Remember to proofread carefully and eliminate dictation mistakes after you are finished with your draft.
What's the fastest way to write?
To make quick writing sessions into an unbreakable habit, you need to develop a process. Try some of the suggestions above. Take the ones that work best for you and turn them into a step-by-step routine that you follow for every assignment. This is your personal writing process.
Having a clear process will allow you to stop your writing sessions at any point and be able to pick right back up again where you left off without floundering around, trying to figure out where you were when you stopped.
How do you write neatly and fast?
Improving your handwriting uses a different set of skills than writing on a computer, but they coincide with the above advice, and with some practice, you can visibly improve your penmanship!
1. Practice writing using your forearm and shoulder muscles. Not only will you have more control of your pen, but your wrist and hand also won't get strained or cramp up, allowing you to write at a steady rate for a longer time.
2. Pay attention to your posture as you write. Sit with your back straight and your feet evenly on the floor. Flex your elbows slightly and let your arms rest comfortably on the desk or table.
3. The way you hold a pen doesn't really affect writing speed and neatness. Hold it the way you feel most comfortable, and don't grip it too hard. This can tire out your hand muscles fast.
4. Practice writing every day. Start slowly, focusing on the individual letters, carefully and neatly writing each one. Eventually, this will become more automatic, and you'll be able to speed up while still producing clear, neat handwriting that anybody can read.