Quick Tips for Writing Faster
Quick Tips for Writing Faster
Trying to get as many words on the page (or screen) as possible? Zone Leader Jeffrey Lee shares some of his tips for writing quickly while maintaining quality.
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If you’re like me, you look at the blank page a lot. As a technical content writer, I always have to generate new content and quickly publish it to different platforms. Over time, I’ve gathered tactics that help me move faster. Here, I wanted to list some of my favorite tips in case you're having trouble writing quickly.
Establish Headers and Bullet Points First
Establishing your headers helps you create an outline for an article. You can edit these headers as you go along; they don’t have to be set in stone. After you have your headers, write the main ideas you want to insert in that section. This can even be quotes you intend to use – anything that gets your writing juices going.
Don’t Erase What You Wrote
Usually, the first thing you wrote is exactly the thing you intended to write. It may not be the most polished, but it’s the original idea. If you spend too much time re-writing this sentence, you will lose your original idea and meaning. Spending too much time editing could also cause you to lose focus on the bigger picture, which is getting the article finished on time.
Tackle the First and Best Idea First
I’ve sometimes spent more time trying to think of the best article to write than writing the article itself. Of course, if you’re a frequent writer you should have a strategy and editorial calendar that helps you generate ideas. But sometimes, we’re not always this organized. When I’m stuck on what to write, I’ll just start writing the idea I’ve been thinking about the most. If this idea doesn’t work, that’s fine - fail fast and try again.
Not Everything Has to Be Novel-Length
Some of my best articles are only 300 to 400 words in length. That’s because they are concise and get to the point quickly.
Do You Know What You’re Saying?
If you’re having a hard time writing, then maybe you don’t know enough about the topic you are writing about. This could be an indication that you should do more research. This may take more time, but when you sit back down to write, the words will come more naturally. If you have the opportunity, try to get in touch with a domain expert in the field first. When you hit the page, you’ll be able to write faster because they (assumingly) already gave you a bunch of great material.
Don’t Be Ashamed of What You Are Writing
This one may sound cheesy, but it’s true. I have many articles I wish I had written better or spent more time on. Even when I’m writing articles, I’ll sometimes freeze up because I’ll be embarrassed by my tone or ideas. This usually happens when you stop writing though, this is when you start to doubt your ideas the most. I’ve learned to conquer this doubt by: 1. continuing to write, even if my words and sentences are the most poorly constructed things in the world, and 2. finishing the article. I’ve learned through experience that I feel better having published something then nothing at all. Even if my article only has one or two good points, that’s fine. It’s better than nothing.
Don’t Over ‘Utilize’ Your Vocabulary
I’m stealing this suggestion from DZoner Jo Stichbury’s article. (I honestly recommend you stop reading this and read her post. It's simple but good). Don’t be afraid to reuse the same words in the same sentence or paragraph. I once had a colleague ask for my help writing an email because she felt like she was using the same words too many times. There is obviously a time and place for buffing up your language, but a simple email to another coworker is not one of them. Repetitious simple words are sometimes better – they are easily understood, and you spend less time thinking of “big words.” Bigger words don’t always make something better.
Move Fast With Stable Infra
You’re probably more than familiar with Facebook’s motto, “Move Fast with Stable Infrastructure”. It used to be “Move Fast and Break Things.” But then they grew and realized breaking too many things wasn't helping as much anymore. I believe the same concept can be applied to writing. Move fast with your writing by establishing your infrastructure first. Maintain that infrastructure, but continue to move quickly. In other words, write quickly and edit when you need to, but don’t spend all day hammering that nail into the wall.
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