I consider myself to be a slow writer. And an even slower editor.
That’s why my mouth starts watering anytime I’m presented with tips and tricks on how to write faster… without sacrificing quality. I gotta get me some of that!
So, when heard about Ryan Healy’s new eBook, Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers: How to Double or Triple Your Daily Word Count, I had to buy it.
Ryan Healy is a copywriter, so he knows that when it comes to writing, time is money. But he also knows, I imagine, that writing quickly isn’t enough. You’ve got to write good stuff… copy and content that resonates with your reader and inspires them to take action. Otherwise, your speedy copy is worthless.
And as a super-busy, time-strapped entrepreneur, I bet you can use some good tips on how to write faster and still produce copy your clients will eagerly gobble up. So, while I can’t outline all of the tips Ryan shares in his eBook, I will share the tips that stood out for me, in one way or another.
By the way, I wrote this blog post using most of Ryan’s tips from the book. Did I write it faster than I would have without doing so? To be honest, I’m not sure. But I did discover I had some writing habits and weaknesses that are preventing me from being more productive and creative.
The Power of Structure
“The secret to writing fast from the moment you sit down to write is this:
Create a plan so that you know what you’re going to write before you write it.” – Ryan Healy
Do you create a plan or an outline before you write a piece of content or copy?
I do. Well, sort of. I mean, sometimes.
Actually, I tend to dump a messy mashup of ideas onto a page, draw arrows to indicate what goes where, and then skip on to the writing.
Well, Ryan believes that creating an outline, a structure for your content, is key to writing faster. It allows you to create a container into which you can pour your words, sentences and brilliance. And when you know what you’re going to write about before you write it, you won’t be stuck staring at a blank Word document.
Here’s how Ryan creates a structure:
He starts by writing down the main ideas for whatever piece of content he’s creating. Then, he writes down the points or ideas that support those main ideas. Once he has all these down, he arranges them in some kind of logical order so each idea flows naturally from one to the other.
“It’s not important to write fast during the outline process, so don’t rush it.
What is important is that you sit down and actually do it because it will save you many hours along the way.” – Ryan Healy
For this blog post, I wrote out a more detailed outline than I normally do, and I think it helped me decide what to include, as well as create an order that felt organic and logical. Did it allow me to write this post any faster? Again, I’m not sure.
The Power of Process
My sweetie pie Mark is a songwriter and a profoundly talented musician. So, we often talk about the creative process, how to best facilitate the flow of creativity and get to the raw and yummy stuff, and establish a process that works best for us.
When Ryan talks about process, he claims you can write faster if you “follow an established process and resist the urge to skip steps.” For his process, he has 4 steps, of which writing is only one:
“Good, fast writing doesn’t just happen spontaneously even if we wish it were so.
It happens only when we follow an established process that empowers our ability to write.” – Ryan Healy
You may need to discover your own unique process for writing faster, but give Ryan’s a try. Take the time to outline your content first, do your research, then write, then edit. And as Ryan points out in the next tip I’m about to share, don’t mix these steps up. Don’t start writing, then edit, then research, then try to write some more. Do them in order, one at a time.
The Power of Single-Mindedness
This tip was my favorite, because it hit me where it hurts.
As I mentioned above, Ryan makes a point of saying, don’t mix up the steps of your process. When you’re outlining, you’re outlining. Not writing. And when you’re writing, you’re writing, not editing. Or researching.
“Write when you intend to write. Do nothing else. This is more difficult than it sounds…
Distractions will try to get you to break away from your writing. But you must not give in.” – Ryan Healy
I confess. I tend to edit while I’m writing. Even now, as I’m writing this, it’s so hard for me not to edit at the same time. I know, from experience, that this only slows me down, and often makes my writing shallow, less alive. And a lot less fun to write. It’s a bad habit that Ryan’s eBook has inspired me to break, once and for all.
In this chapter, Ryan also shares some tips on how to stay single-minded. A few are:
- Set a goal for yourself, whether it’s to write so many words or a specific section or to simply write for an allotted period of time. “The key is to know what you’re measuring so you have a way to know when you’ve reached your goal,” writes Ryan. “Do not take a break or do anything else until you’ve reached that goal.” This Includes answering emails, tweeting, or trolling social media sites.
- Hide your writing. If you’re like me and you tend to edit while you write, shrink the size of your window or document so you can only see the last few sentences of what you’ve written. This will lessen the temptation to go “fix” some sentence or move things around while you’re still writing.
The Power of Focus
The essence of this tip is simple. Avoid all distractions and don’t allow yourself to be interrupted. By anything.
Now, this may seem like a no-brainer, but let’s get real. How often do you let yourself be interrupted and distracted when writing or creating?
As I was writing this post, I set my intention to eliminate all and any distractions. Piece of cake! When I write, I’m rarely tempted to check email or surf social media sites or answer the phone.
Ah, but I discovered my downfall! My cats. And the squirrels who stop by for peanuts.
If my kitty Molly hops on my desk and demands to be petted, do I ignore her? No. I indulge her. And if I refuse to indulge her, she walks all over my keyboard and rubs up against my computer screen until I pay attention.
This insanity has got to stop.
As I wrote this post, the squirrels outside my window kept stopping by, looking at me with their big, ink-drop eyes, silently begging me for peanuts. Did I keep writing? No. I put down my laptop, opened the window and gave them big handfuls of raw, unsalted peanuts. (Note: never feed squirrels nuts that have been roasted or salted. It’s not good for them.)
Ryan shares a variety of ways to stay focused, like writing by hand with pen and paper (this is my absolute favorite way to write first drafts) so you won’t be tempted by the Internet or email while writing, write in a quiet place, write in a noisy place, and more.
My suggestion? Keep the cats out of the office and shut the door. And don’t write anywhere where there are hungry squirrels.
The Power of Habit, Deadlines, Rest… and so much more
I’ve only touched on a tiny thimbleful of the information and tips Ryan shares in his eBook, Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers: How to Double or Triple Your Daily Word Count.
If you’re a busy entrepreneur who would love to have more time, increase your overall productivity and churn out great content and copy at a quicker pace, I recommend Ryan’s eBook. Many of the processes and tips can be applied to any kind of productivity or creativity, not just writing.
And in closing, I’ll leave you with one more quote from Ryan’s book:
“Ultimately, you must ‘know thyself.’ Know what activities get your creative juices flowing.
Know what things make you feel excited and inspired to write.
Once you know, it’s a simple matter of pushing your own buttons to get the result you want.” – Ryan Healy
Do you consider yourself to be a fast writer? Do you have your own creative process that works for you? I’d love to hear what works for you as well as where you may need a bit of help. So, leave a comment below and let’s shake it up!