write faster

How to Write Faster

Ann O'Brien

August 22, 2022

If only writing was as easy as turning on the tap to get a constant flow of words and ideas. But of course, it isn’t, and sometimes motivation to write slows us down or even a lack of inspiration or the constant mental cartwheels writers must do while crafting a creative tale. Writing at a constant pace is a challenge for just about every writer and sticking to an anticipated writing schedule of what you should be able to write in a given time frame is hard for even the most seasoned professional. So how can you learn to write faster to meet your goals, finish your next self-published book, or just improve your productivity?

Let’s take a look at seven proven techniques that will give writers practical strategies to build into their writing times.

Strategies Can Motivate You

The art of writing, like any other creative pursuit, depends on your mindset. Some days your fingers are flying across the keyboard and the inspiration is flowing while other days you can’t seem to find the right words to save your life. Strategies that motivate you, inspire you, or challenge you can help you move past those stagnant or slow writing days. Test out these strategies to enhance your motivation and inspiration to see what cranks your own writing gears into action. Then utilize one or more of these strategies regularly to increase your writing speed over time.

1. Create a Goal-Reward System

Pavlov’s experiment has not only proved true for animals but also for humans. We all love to earn a reward when we meet a goal, so apply this basic psychological tenant to your own writing challenge. Set a short-term goal for yourself, like to write 30 minutes a day, or set a word count goal. Then provide a small token reward for reaching that goal that you otherwise wouldn’t have experienced. When you have reached your small goal for a week or a month, give yourself a fun reward that is a little bit more exciting. One great way to visualize this is to use a tracker system. Use a clear jar and a coin for each small goal reached, keep track of goals on your smartphone calendar, or use an online digital tracker to monitor your small and large goals.

The key to using a goal-reward system is to make the small goals reasonable and attainable so you don’t become discouraged. Many writers love this strategy and find that over time the small goals are more likely to become progress markers rather than goalposts as they increase their stamina and speed in writing.

2. Employ Technology

A great way to learn to speed up your writing is to utilize modern technology like voice-to-text or dictation features. Speaking your thoughts instead of writing them removes the ability to rewrite words. This flow of consciousness style of writing will require a larger commitment to editing your work, but you will have a greater volume of words and content to work with. Many writers also get bogged down with spelling and word choice options when they are typing out every sentence. But voice-to-text writing will fix many of these pesky spelling errors (and getting some words incorrect no doubt), while still giving an author plenty of time to review their writing to change or improve word selections.

Top Tip: Use this dictation method to capture inspiration when it hits you (and not just during your regularly scheduled writing times) to increase your writing speed.

3. Look Away

Counterintuitive to most writers, a great way to increase your speed is to avert your eyes from the screen while you write. The instinct to correct misspelled words, rephrase an idea, or even delete a whole section and start over is strong for many writers. To avoid actions that will inevitably slow down writing output, make looking at your screen difficult or impossible by either turning down the brightness on the screen to reduce visibility or using a wireless keyboard while sitting out of eyesight of the screen. By looking away from the screen, writers can focus on the words and flow of their writing and increase their output in the process. Of course, initial editing will be required to clean up typing errors, but the volume of writing, as well as the speed of content creation, will increase over time because authors don’t have the luxury of changing what they have typed at that moment.

4. Manage Your Environment

A simple way to improve productivity is to simply reduce distractions in your environment. While you may think that background music or your favorite streaming show will stay in the background of your mind, the truth is that they may be hindering your ability to truly focus on your writing. Remove extraneous sounds, put on noise-canceling headphones, swap your living room for a coffee shop or even use a website-blocking app to help you reduce the likelihood of scrolling through social media.

Top Tip: Consider what your two biggest distractions are and change your environment so you can work with fewer interruptions.

5. Plan First, Write Second

Instead of creating your story as you write, take time to plan and outline your project by visualizing the scene in your head first. Think about how the characters will look, what they will say, and how they will react to the actions. This pre-visualization will make writing the scene easier.

6. Use a Timer

If you like to challenge yourself, then grab a timer and race the clock.

  • Pomodoro Strategy. Named after the Italian word for tomato, the Pomodoro strategy recalls a commonplace kitchen timer in the shape of a tomato. This method involves setting a timer for 25 minutes (but you can use your smartphone if you don’t have a cute tomato timer). Concentrate on writing as much as you can during that time and then take a 5-10 minute break. After repeating this for four rounds, take a longer break before starting again.
  • Sprint Technique. Similar to interval training that runners use to increase their fast-paced sprinting, writers use a timer to write for 10-minute increments. As you become more comfortable with 10 minutes, increase the time you “sprint” through your writing to increase the volume of the content you produce as well as the speed you write.

Top Tip: Try both techniques and see which one resonates with you since some writers love the fast pace of the Sprint while others like the feel of longer, repeated chunks of writing time. Then consistently use that strategy for a few weeks to watch for notable improvements in your writing speed.

7. Write What You Can (and Skip What You Can’t)

Getting hung up on the right word, best character interaction, or interesting plot twist can cause writer’s block. If you feel a slowdown in your writing coming up because you just don’t know what to put there, put a placeholder and move on to a section you can write. Sometimes taking a break from a challenging portion will allow you to take a fresh look at it when you return to it later. The goal is to keep on writing rather than stopping your writing flow to consider what to do next. You can always return to your placeholders later when the inspiration strikes.

Finish Your Next Book

Increasing your speed may not happen overnight. But authors who use strategies to help them keep writing quality content consistently for longer chunks of time will undoubtedly see their speed improve. If you want your writing to resemble more of a cheetah’s sprint than a snail’s pace, be sure to set achievable expectations for how fast you can reasonably write. Even small improvements in your speed can add up to big changes while working on a long project like a novel. And when you have written that final chapter, turn to a trusted printer like Publishing Xpress to bring your story or project to life with a beautifully published book. Authors working with Publishing Xpress can get expert help in making their book’s cover look great and also count on the professional presentation of their Perfect Bound book as well.

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