Gene Fowler jokes that “Writing is easy. All you have to do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
Funny, but it’s no wonder. Writing isn’t something you can just do on the fly.
It’s a major bottleneck in blogging. If you’re a slow writer, then your speed is keeping you from publishing more and displaying your expertise on a consistent basis.
And if that isn’t enough, your days are also filled with more tasks than you can handle. As a result, your writing is always pushed aside by the other mountainous tasks in your to do list.
Tired of this scenario?
Good. Because writing, doesn’t have to be that way.
Neil Patel, the founder of Crazy Egg and KissMetrics is one of the busiest content publishers out there. He runs two active brands and works with large companies like Amazon and NBC, to name a few. Yet, he manages to write 8 posts a week.
Point is, even if you’re busy as a bumblebee, you can still squeeze some writing into your time.
But you need a strategy. Realize that writing, as creative and free-flowing you enjoy it to be, can be more streamlined when combined with a system.
So here are some blogging tips that can speed up your writing and get more posts published.
1. Decide on Your Title First
You probably already know that you need a strong headline to catch your readers’ attention. But there’s more to that. A headline gives you a precise angle. It laser-focuses your perspective so you don’t go off on tangents while writing a piece.
Don’t worry if your title is not catchy enough at first. You can come back to it later and maybe add a compelling adjective, rearrange or change to present tense to improve its eye-grabbing factor. But always start with a clear headline a.k.a. the angle already in place before you begin.
For ideas on creating compelling headlines you should check out Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks which is a great resource.
2. Track Your Time
Sun Tzu said “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.”
In a similar manner, if you know how much time you spend whipping up the rough draft, you won’t be daunted every time you sit down to write.
Once you find out that you spend roughly an hour and a half writing a 1200 word post, there’s no mystery how much time you’ll need to spend writing the draft. No fearing the unknown, which by the way breeds procrastination. Instead, you can calmly tell yourself “I just need an hour and a half to whip up this draft.”
So track your writing time. Create a writing log where you put in all your writing projects and the time it takes you to write them. Aim to push yourself to do better each time. Eventually, you’ll find that writing will be less frightening and you’ll be able to do it more quickly.
3. Get Enthusiastic
Nothing saps the energy to write more than a lack of enthusiasm. According to psychologist Shane Anchor, happiness has a direct link to our productivity.
So find something fun about the piece you are writing. Share funny quotes that illustrate your points. Look for genuine human stories behind your topic. Also, imagine you are talking to a friend. You start by asking “Hey, guess what?” and your post picks up on that.
Alternatively, you can create small rewards for yourself after you finish writing such as a Youtube video, a few minutes browsing Reddit or a dessert. The key is to tie your work to something that gets you excited.
By doing this, you establish that writing is fun and rewarding and you’ll be able to do it with zest. If your brain is wired to think that writing is hard and tiresome, you will always try to avoid it. Is this how you want to approach writing?
4. Have a Go-to Approach for Your Intros
Most writers agree that the introduction is the most difficult part to write in any piece. Stephen King admits that he spends months perfecting the intros of his stories.
It doesn’t matter whether you are writing a novel or an article for your blog. The same law applies: if you fail to captivate your readers in the first few lines, you lose them forever.
But don’t let that fact detain you. One way to quickly get into the writing flow is to have a standard type of intro that you use every time you start a post. This is your go-to intro, hook, lede or whatever you want to call it. It removes the hard work of painfully looking at a blank screen and trying to decide “How should I start my piece?”
For instance, you can choose to always start by describing the problem of your target audience. Or, you can choose to always begin with a story. Or an interesting statistic. There are many ways to start, but these three are some of the most effective ways to begin.
Of course you are free to experiment with other types of introductions such as the ones provided here. Again, the key is to have a go-to approach when beginning your posts. Because once you know how to start, half of the battle is won.
5. Outline First then Fill in
Setting up the structure of your article before you write is another effective way to focus your perspective and write fast. Additionally, it allows you to write more tightly and relevantly.
Although I’ve known outlining since grade school, I only recently understood how it can help you write fast through Danny Inny of Firepole Marketing. He suggests writing the headline first then the intro. After that, outline the subheads and the rest of the work is just filling the missing pieces.
Once you outlined the subheads, you already know what goes into each. This organizes your thoughts and helps you avoid going off in a different direction.
Here’s the post describing the process in detail.
6. Separate Writing and Editing
Writing and editing are two different personalities. Writing is the fun, bubbly person who likes to do her job like nobody’s business while editing is her critical sister who eagerly rings the alarm at the slightest error.
Have you seen two people walk with each of their legs tied together? That’s what it’s like when you combine writing and editing at once. It will slow you down and kill your efficiency. It’s a huge time suck. So to write quickly, you should separate writing from editing.
When writing, allow yourself to make mistakes. Don’t worry about writing a crummy draft. It’s part of the process. Even Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of Marketing Profs and author of Everybody Writes, acknowledges this and calls it the “Ugly First Draft”.
Just get the thoughts out. Remember that once you finish, you can edit and polish it to your heart’s desire. If you really want to get the post done fast, crank up the draft as quick as you can so you can have more time for editing afterwards.
I used to combine writing and editing at the same time. There are still moments when I slip into this old habit. But I always remind myself that to make the most of the time I have, I need to separate the two.
7. Set a Strict Deadline
Anyone who has worked in a newsroom or a similar environment knows the tyranny of a deadline. Regardless of your mood or whether or not you have the muse, you need to turn in those stories – day in, day out.
To write quick, don’t give yourself a generous timeline. Even if you have no one to answer to, assign a tight deadline to yourself and force yourself to stick to it.
Here’s a trick: Always have a new writing project in mind while working on your current piece. That way, you are motivated to finish with the old and move onto the new.
Need the stronger nudge of an impending deadline? I recommend Stickk — a motivation program where you put money on the line. Give yourself a deadline for finishing that article, bind yourself to a contract and if you fail to meet that deadline, your money goes to an “anti-charity” or an organization whose views you strongly oppose.
Why does it work? It has to do with how our brain is wired towards risks. This study shows how we are more motivated to prevent a loss than to gain something.
8. Get Yourself a Personal Editor
There are two types of writers. Those who love to edit but hate to write and those who love to write but hate to edit.
I’m the latter. Editing requires more willpower from me than writing. Sometimes I find myself being compelled to do other things when it’s time to edit a piece I’ve written.
If you are like me who would rather write than fix silly wordings then consider getting yourself an editor. This person will do the hard work of polishing your work so you can move on to another writing project and get more things done. I think this is one of the best ways to go if you want to significantly improve your publishing rate.
Make Peace With Writing and Get More Posts Published
Writing is just one of the many tasks you have to do as a content publisher. But life is too short to spend most of your time painfully putting words to screen.
So pick the tips here that resonate with you most and apply them the next time you sit down to write.
Because writing doesn’t have to be, according to Fowler, a beads-of-blood approach. If anything, it can be something you can breeze through smoothly and confidently.
How are you getting your writing done more quickly? Or if you have any blogging tips then do let me know in the comments below! And if you liked this post, please share it with your friends!