29 responses to “How to write fast”

  1. Jackie Dishner

    No other ideas at the moment, but I’m a big fan, too, of just getting it on the page.

    And I find the newsroom example with someone standing over you while you write horrifying. I’d never be able to write like that…fast or slow. I’m a wave-the-person-away kind of writer. Stand beside me, behind me, or in front of me to get my attention while I’m trying to concentrate at the keyboard, and I might just have to ask you to leave.

    Thanks for the tips, though. I like your blog.

    Jackie Dishner

  2. AnnaLisa Michalski

    I completely agree with using your optimal time of day to advantage. As a mom, I find that even more important than I did early on. I know that on any given day, my most productive hours will be early morning, before Little Person needs take center stage. I work much later too, but my most efficient work almost always happens before 8am.

    But other than that…the whole idea of writing fast is absolutely foreign to me. If I’m under a short deadline, it usually means I will be working through dinner or into the night, not that I will somehow be inspired to put the pedal down. I work at one rate, the one that gets the job done right. I admit it. I’ve yet to shorten my work time and still achieve quality results.

    I have to agree with Jackie. That newsroom example is a horror show. I could never work under those conditions–at least, not without chronic hair loss.

  3. Walter

    I can write fast, but it’s a skill I’ve honed over the years and it depends both on what type of writing I’m doing and what I’m willing to sacrifice for the speed.

    For clients, I always rely on the old axiom:

    I can can do good, I can do fast, and I can do cheap. But you can only have two of those at a time.


  4. How to squeeze more out of your freelance work day « WordCount/by Michelle Vranizan Rafter

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  5. Stiennon

    Ok this is going to sound just so wrong. What about drugs? In particular, nicotine? I have discovered that some very prolific writers, Mark Twain and Churchill to name two, could only write while smoking. Do a lot of writers smoke, chew, do the patch?

  6. Marshall | bondChristian

    I found your post just now through your comment at Problogger. Thanks for the article. I’m a horribly slow writer. I’m just about to start writing a new post though… so I’ll try out some of your tips.

    Here we go…

    Marshall Jones, Jr.

  7. Joel Drapper


    I found this post from the comment you left at problogger.net.

    His article was great, but there are some good tips here too.


  8. Liz Micik

    I too found the post from the Problogger comment…see it does work…and enjoyed both posts. But they also raised a question for me, or maybe it’s more of a plea to fellow writers since, as a freelancer, this is an income question for me.

    I hear people talking all the time about writing articles in 10-15 minutes; 500+ words rolling off the fingertips with no effort and all that. I think it gives the buying public a very wrong idea of what’s involved in quality writing. I think we can all agree also that that sort of talk has contributed to the idea that a 500 word blog post is only worth $5, or $15 as an eZine article if you post it for them.

    Yesterday I wrote four longer pieces for Squidoo, hubpages, etc. Each was around 1,000 words and each still took me over an hour. The key to the speed was the fact that I knew my subject cold. The day before I was able to do half as well because the keywords and subject I was working with then was not one I knew. Today, I have four pieces to do and can honestly only think of two unique topics. It’s going to be a long day.

    I think we need to be much more open about the amount of time it takes to research and plan that 500 word article. How long do you spend finding pictures to use, or fact check after you write as well. Do you allow time for one or two reread/rewrites.

    There is a difference between the stream of consciousness style of writing that is a blog post on a well worn subject…or a ranting comment like this one…and an article or post that imparts hard information for which we expect to be paid.

    As writers, would you agree we need to make this difference more clear to our clients? Wouldn’t it make sense to start that by talking among ourselves that way as well?

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  11. Miguel Wickert

    When I was working on my BA, I find that there were period of time when I worked at my best- I was efficient unlike any other time. I understand what you mean by finding your zones or moments when you’re at your best. Second, you’re right on about unplugging- I like to say disconnect, turn of the internet, TV, Twitter and so on.

    Focus at the task at hand, I use a timer to boost my productivity. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

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  14. Billy

    Thanks for the advice.

    I’m a firm believer in, ‘Unplug – Turn off email. Close the browser. Log off the message boards. Do whatever it takes to eliminate distractions.’

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  16. Kathy Sena - Parent Talk Today

    So true about the need to unplug when writing. And it IS hard when you have to go online to check facts, etc. I try to do a brain dump first. Just get it all down. Then I go back and start filling in the blanks, checking spelling and facts, etc. If I can get that first draft down, uninterrupted, then I’m on my way.

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  18. Genevieve Fosa

    Write fast. Hmm. Having worked at freelance writing and writing book manuscripts for a period of years, I will say that over time, my writing has improved to the point that my first drafts are not as wretched as they once were. I think it was Dean Koontz who once said that judging by the amount of paper he went through, he must edit every page of his manuscripts at least 65 times. Then there was Robert Louis
    Stevenson, who wrote Treasure Island – first draft, only draft. Most of us fall somewhere in between. For myself, no matter how many times I go over a piece that I have written, I see words, phrases, sentences and paragraphs that could be moved around and improved.

    Writing fast and well, means that every word is in the right place and says just what you want it to say. Moreover, each idea is in the place it belongs, leading up to the idea that follows it. This takes skill, which may take years to develop. And, if you write an outline – which may be a good thing to do, especially for a non-fiction article – isn’t that also part of the writing process?

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  20. Sally_K

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing! The work when your on is so important. I can get so much more writing done in 1 hour early in the morning (before checking emails, social networks or even talking to any other humans) than I can in a whole day.

  21. T.A. Barnhart

    my sore shoulder forces me to not muck about. focus & type, get it done. and that helps me leave out the excess yakkety-yak.

    so when my shoulder is fully healthy, expect me to take all day to write long, long boring blogs.

  22. Toni Nelson

    Writing first thing in the morning is best for me. I usually wake up my so many ideas and putting them down on paper is exhilarating.

  23. Ashley Howland

    ha turn off everything – that would certainly help. I can write fast when the ideas are flowing. Yep that is usually when I have complete focus on what I am doing. Funny that I spent all day telling people to focus on the task at hand, yet I can be ver easily distracted. Maybe I should listen to myself!

  24. Michelle

    Good tips. I especially like write when you’re on. There are times when I can put together 2-3 blog posts in one sitting. I find I work the best when there are no distractions…or in the car at soccer practice (no distractions again)! I’m trying to plow through a few tonight actually!

  25. Rosemary Barraclough

    hi Michelle, i soooo agree with your point number 4 – when the preparation is done, it just pours out 🙂
    cheers, r

  26. Rosemary Barraclough

    Hi Michelle, I so agree with your point number 4. – when the preparation is done, the words just flow 🙂
    cheers, rosemary