The writing process: It’s a lot like meditation. You have to take every new, unrelated thought and flick it from your brain. How to write quickly: that’s even more of an anomaly, especially with all of the distractions we face.
If you’re reading today, it is probably a safe bet you’re in the same boat as myself. Blogging is your hobby… and you aren’t amazing with time management.
Time management skills are so important when it comes to blogging. We’re usually working full time or students or mothers. We’re working it in where we can because we’re creative types that are passionate about writing and helping others. Unfortunately, most of us are also making pennies and have big dreams like selling eBooks or devotionals so we can take our writing gig full time. Another one of my goals for 2019 is to learn how to write quickly and streamline my writing process. (Share your big dreams/goals for 2019 with me in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.)
A step by step guide: learn how to write quickly with these 7 time management tips
So, acknowledging every wayward thought and gently allowing it to go poof requires some preparation and focused intention if we’re intent on meeting these blogging goals. We need to learn how to be as productive as possible so that we inevitably work smarter, not harder.
If you’re one of many wanting to know how to write quickly because you are short on time but have big blogging goals too, I’m sharing a step by step guide that will hopefully help you to streamline your writing process. I hope to help you develop writing habits that become so habitual that it is on par with tying your shoes. You don’t have to think about tying your shoes, do you? When it needs to be done, you just do it. You jump right into the steps involved because you know it yields results.
However, your brain will try to convince you every new thought is urgent and inadmissible during this process. Most of the time my thoughts come in the form of ‘you forgot to make a cup of coffee you big idiot’. The great news is that self discipline is like a muscle. The more you practice, the easier letting disruptive thoughts go will be.
A step by step guide: learn how to write quickly with these 7 time management tips
1.) The first thing to note here is that you want to avoid perfectionism at all costs.
I’m terrible for this. I can’t just let a rough draft be a rough draft. Sometimes it is so bad that I edit as I write. I’ll go back through each paragraph before moving onto the next one. Saying it out loud is shameful and sobering. One of my yearly goals is to let my first draft be. Once everything is written, edit to your hearts desire. BUT DO NOT EDIT AS YOU WRITE. Sorry to shout.
There are a couple of reasons you should let your first draft be. One: you can always proofread later. Two: it makes writing an absolute bore (and a chore). Three: it drags the process out and eats into your limited time. I’ve spent 5-10 minutes on one paragraph before. That’s madness! Four: when you learn that every time you sit down to write it will take you a thousand years, you’ll start procrastinating. And lastly, all of these reasons combined will steal your voice. So you’re better off letting what you perceive as imperfection be.
2.) The second thing to do is to plan your writing into your schedule.
And nope, saying “I’ll write after work tomorrow” or “As soon as I have some free time at the weekend” is not going to cut it. You need to plan your writing time into your schedule like it is a coffee date with Jesus, okay? No more writing here and there where you can: make it an appointment. Schedule it into your bullet journal, my friend. Don’t worry though, you don’t need an hour interval either (more on that later).
Helpful tip: Consider your work flow factors. When are you at your most productive and creative naturally? Or, in other words, are you a morning bird or a night owl? I’m currently writing this at 11:44 PM. I’m always waaay more inspired and focused in the evening. Consider also your busy schedule. Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t be unrealistic. Find a time that is going to be easy to stick to consistently. How many times do you want to write per week? For me, I write about 2x per week. Anything more and my brain goes into fried egg mode. As for the time, I don’t mind writing in the early hours or the evening as long as I follow my next tip. Just make sure you are choosing a time that you can stick to for the amount of times in the week you’d like to write.
3.) Start with an idea.
I’ve written a post dedicated specifically to idea generation, so I’ll simply say this: start with an idea. Not just any idea, though. You’ll want to start with an idea that you know a thing or two about and you’re excited to share with others.
Idea generation is another ballpark completely because there are times when we lack motivation or inspiration. During those times, brainstorming is far easier than writing a full length post we’re not 100% excited to write. There is nothing worse than staring at a blank screen, so don’t if you can avoid it. Have a list of exciting ideas waiting to go and the one that you’ve been thinking about the most is the one. So start with that one. If you don’t have one, the first step to cultivating your writing process is to make this list and make it stat.
4.) Now you will want to hunker down as best you can.
Hunkering down is super fun. This is the fun part. Well, if you love to write. Hunkering down involves knowing what you need to start fresh. For me, that is a tidy desk space or table, a cup of coffee (so I don’t reach for one in the middle of a flow and get distracted by the fact that I didn’t bloody make a cup of coffee; how am I supposed to continue writing? Must. Satisfy. Urge. To. Make. Coffee. Before. Continuing), a pen and paper to hand, and an idea. The pen and paper is mostly for those pesky thoughts that pop up. A self disciplined person would bat them away but my brain can’t continue to function unless it is logged somewhere on paper. You know, so I can never go back to it like my brain insisted it would.
But, hunkering down essentially means gathering all items and materials you will need so you aren’t tempted to leave your desk or writing space. You want to get in and get out as quickly as possible so this requires you prepare beforehand. Are there books you need? Other blog posts you’d like to reference and need to pull up? Do you need to make a cup of coffee? Do all the things.
5). Next, you’ll want to have a very simple set up. But you must have a set up.
You know, us creative types… we’re like magpies. There’s always that shiny little thought our minds are going to wander to. If you have a cluttered space around you, you are going to get distracted. Especially if gel pens and stationary are involved. I usually become annoyed with clutter and my mind, looking for any excuse to procrastinate, will give into the compulsion to “faff” (a British phrase that means fumble around aimlessly) and tidy.
In regards to the set up, you will want to have a designated space. A room, a coffee shop, or even a table. But somewhere you go consistently that you associate with productivity. I would never try to write a blog post while sitting in bed. My mind associates my pillows with sweet, sweet sleep. Associate your space with focus and productivity.
6.) Disconnect so you can find your writing flow.
Now, disconnect completely. Distraction will never lead to a writing flow. I struggle with this one. In order to do this I have had to dig deep and disconnect notifications that come through by an extension on my Chrome browser. Every little update that would come through while I was writing would prompt my brain to click away or lose focus. Disconnect browser notifications, turn your phone off, puts some headphones in and turn on some soft background music (if that helps you focus, as it does for me).
7.) Set a timer and work in a focused manner for a small period of time.
You know how I mentioned earlier that you don’t need an hour block to write? A lot of people say they owe their success to focused work and frequent breaks. The human brain can only focus on a task for so long and this lessens throughout the day.
Depending on how focused you are and how lengthy the post is going to be, you might be able to get away with scheduling a 30 minute writing block. Personally, I’m very introspective, my thoughts wander, and I also struggle with letting my first draft be a sloppy first draft. So to formulate an entire blog post like this one I’m looking at a solid hour. You can schedule an hour in if this sounds like you too. Otherwise, I would suggest small time blocks with focused writing. No breaks.
I also benefit from 20 minute writing blocks. I set a timer and just let the words flow. I’m often surprised by how much this allows me to write. I’m focused on writing as much as possible so I’m focusing less on how imperfect my thoughts are coming out onto the page. This is definitely helping me overcome my fear of perfectionism.
So, I hope this helps you understand how to write quickly and streamline your writing process, especially as the new year is just around the corner. My hope is also that you take these tips, apply them to your own process, and cultivate a productive and individualized routine that becomes so habitual it’ll feel like breathing. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration.
But the main takeaway here on how to write quickly is to avoid perfectionism, start with an idea, gather what you need to work smarter, not harder, and find your flow. I would also say not to overwhelm yourself: you may think you haven’t got anything figured out, but if you dig deep enough you will know what is working and what isn’t. What is working, keep it. What isn’t, try something new. Simple as that!
So, what are your new year blogging goals? Are you also trying to learn how to write quickly and productively? What do you hope to achieve? What does your own writing process look like and how do you think this might change in future? I’d love to hear from you.