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How To Write Fast

Who doesn’t want to write fast?

I want to write fast.  I need to write fast.

Writing is at the heart of just about all content creation, so the ability to produce fast, effective, and engaging content is highly desirable, right?

I always chide myself that reading about writing fast is probably not going to make me write any faster! LOL.

Having said that, here is what works for me.


My trusted MacMillan (my Macbook) usually sits on my study table.  Study sounds grand, doesn’t it? It’s basically a desk in a room that doubles as guest room, playroom, and general utility room (the kids don’t allow me to call it a playroom anymore now that they are teenagers).

The room is not important, but what is important is the surface where you write.  I find that the less clutter, the better.  Even if I have a ton of unfinished paperwork, I put it all away in a box or drawer, so that there’s nothing other than MacMillan, my catch-all notebook and a pen on the desk.

Next, I grab my iPhone, and hit Tunein Radio, an app that streams a variety of radio stations and music compilations.  I tune into The Lounge Channel, a station that has the right mix of jazz, R&B, and lounge-y sounds.  It’s the right background for me – music I like, without being too distracting.

Outline Ready

I separate planning from production.  This means that I first do a quick and dirty outline.  I start with the intent and value that I want to deliver in the post or chapter I plan to work on.  I outline it quickly in Evernote – just 5-7 bullets.

Without an outline in place, I find that I meander, sometimes getting stuck on the first 100 words, other times spurting out 500 before I’ve come anywhere near making a point.

On the other hand, with an outline, whatever I write under the bullet point must tie into just that bullet point – nothing more, and nothing less.  Once I’ve written about 3-4 short paragraphs, I’m usually done with that topic, and move on to the next.

If I find that I still have more to say after that, I split up the topic into two (or three, as the case might be).

No Editing

I’m sure you’ve heard it – don’t edit and write at the same time.

Get it all down first, as quick as you can.  This allows you to write from the heart, from your intuition, and put your internal judge away until it can come back as an editor.

The other thing I would add here is no formatting as well.  The only exception is if you really must italicize something for emphasis as you’re going along, then just do it quickly, preferably using keyboard shortcuts.  But even then, you know you will catch it on the editing step, so just write, and don’t worry too much about formatting.

Time Box

This is by far my favourite hack for writing fast.  I set a timer for 20 minutes and just let it rip when I’m working blog posts.

If I’m working on longer pieces, like chapters for an ebook or information product, I usually work in 45 minute sets.

To make it more fun for myself, I decide that I can get up and make myself another cup of caramel macchiato once I’m done with two sets of 20 minutes.

I’m a sucker for flavored coffee, so time boxing with the promise of yumminess at the end works to galvanize me even more.

Use A No Frills Editor

For longer works, I use Scrivener.  But for blog posts and drafting other materials, I tend to start in Evernote.

It’s quick to pull up, there’s nothing to setup, and if my Internet connection goes on the blink (a frequent occurrence in our tiny village in Italy), it’s not a problem.

If I were writing directly in WordPress, first of all I would need to be connected all the time, and that tiny editing box just drives me crazy.  Yes, I know I can go full screen mode, but still prefer Evernote for quick drafts.

The other bonus to writing in Evernote is if I need to leave MacMillan to go and run an errand, I can continue writing where I left off from my phone or tablet, given that Evernote syncs across all my devices.

Once the draft is done, and edited, I simply copy/paste it into the WordPress.

These are my top tips for writing fast.  In fact, this particular post, from idea to finished draft took just under 30 minutes.

Now I know it will take another hour to find just the right image and actually get it posted …. sigh.

What is your number one tip for writing fast?

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