How to Write Fast
Recently, I’ve been collaborating on a project with another writer who is amazed at how quickly I crank out new material. “How do you write so fast?” she asked. Because I didn’t realize that my writing speed was faster than anyone else’s, I had to think about how to answer her question. In hindsight, perhaps I do have a few tricks up my sleeve. Good news: It’s easy to learn how to write fast.
Planning is always my first step. Before I write anything, I think about it and develop a strategy. Sometimes, I do this in my head, but for more complex projects I complete a list or make an outline. This approach stems from my days as a corporate scriptwriter and video producer where pre-production planning is built into the process. Because of the cost involved (before everyone and their brother started making videos on their smart phone), no producer would ever proceed without a detailed plan and a budget. If I’m writing something short, like an article or a blog post, it’s so much easier to jot down my thoughts and arrange them in some logical sequence before I begin looking for the right words. To write fast, you need to plan.
For me, part of the planning process is research—making sure I have more information than I need to write about a particular topic. Google is a lifesaver, but depending on the size of the project, I often take time to read books on the subject or interview experts. Once my brain is filled with information on a particular topic, it’s very easy to get out of my way and let the words flow. To write fast you need to know your subject.
Getting out of the way is something I learned many years ago while videotaping a series of hypnosis training classes. Because the brain is so open to suggestion, it is easy to take a few deep, calm, relaxing breaths and plant a few simple suggestions, like: I write quickly and effortlessly. I complete my writing assignments in record time. I know everything I need to know to quickly write this article. You get the idea. This approach can be even more effective if you also visualize the desired outcome such as seeing a happy client hand you a large check or picturing your novel on the shelves of the major bookstores. To write fast, you need to visualize the desired outcome.
Letting the words flow is really the key to writing fast. Because I have an outline and a lot of information in my head, and I’ve pictured the desired outcome, when I do sit down at the computer to write, I don’t spend time thinking about sentence structure, grammar or whether I have the facts straight. Typically, I bang out a first draft and then go back and clean it up.
Another trick is setting a kitchen timer for five minutes and writing non-stop until it goes off. Try experimenting and see how many words you write in this amount of time. Generally, when I do this, I can produce an average of 250 to 300 words. I also use this technique when I’m looking for a way to begin a story or article. I give myself five minutes to try out opening sentences. When I step out of the way, I’m always amazed at what magically appears on the page.