Picture this: your mind is overflowing with awesome ideas for your book. You can’t wait to transfer these ideas into words and share them with the world, so you dive right into writing. But hold on, here’s a hurdle. Hours have passed, and you’re unfortunately staring at a document (or paper if that’s how you roll) with only 100 words taunting you…
You’re not alone, I’ve been there as well! With our busy lives, finding time to dedicate to writing can be tough. So when that time flows away without bearing much fruit, it can feel frustrating.
But at the same time, keep in mind that going at your pace and taking it slow isn’t wrong either. After all, it took even renowned writers like Junot Díaz and Margaret Mitchell a decade to finish their masterpieces!
Finding the right balance for yourself is the key. With that said, let me share some of the most effective ways that helped me speed up my writing and boost my overall productivity!
1. Establish a Daily Writing Habit
Writing speed is a skill. Like any other skill, practice will hone it and keep you warmed up.
Make it a habit to write every day. It doesn’t matter what you write about or how much. Just sit down and write as much as you can! One thing that has helped me develop this habit is trying out fun little prompts.
There are various prompts out there that you can write just for fun just by committing a little amount of time. For example, one of my favorite writing troves, 5-Minute Daily Writing Prompts by Tarn Wilson, provides 501 creative prompts that take you only 5 minutes to write out.
2. Try Writing Sprints
Have you ever tried a word sprint? If you haven’t, you’re missing out! Word sprints are timed writing sessions where you aim to jot down a specific number of words or as many words as possible within that timeframe. And yes, you just write, write, and write – no stopping for editing!
It’s highly helpful for setting your editor side aside and just focusing on writing as much as you can. You can start small with 5-minute intervals and then move to 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and so forth as you become more comfortable.
Some sprint tools like Ohwrite even allow group sprints and competitiveness, making it a fun activity to do with your writer friends.
I like doing 5-10 minute sprints before I begin writing my book. I’ve found that it works quite well as a warm-up.
3. Set Achievable Goals
Set goals and do your best to stick with them! You don’t need to aim big. Aim for small, achievable milestones.
By dividing your writing journey into small steps, you can manage it more easily and feel the thrill of completing each one. It can be anything – whether it’s writing 100 words per day or writing for at least 1 hour per day.
I often aim for outlining or completing at least one chapter per day.
4. Maintain a Comfortable Posture
Your posture matters for writing speed more than you might think. Once you’re comfortable, you can concentrate better and write faster.
On the other hand, an uncomfortable slouching position will disrupt your writing efficiency. So, sit up straight and position your hands comfortably on the keyboard or while holding the pen. Don’t forget to take regular breaks during writing sessions to prevent physical strain and maintain focus.
When I get into a better posture and take breaks regularly, I certainly notice a notable difference in my focus. Of course, I still slip at times and so would you. But it’s worth trying, and your body will thank you as well!
5. Have a Good Handwriting Technique
Just as posture matters, how you grip the pen matters too! By holding your pen comfortably and effectively, you can write faster.
Ensure you have a grip that allows smooth movement and control. Experiment with different grips to find what works best for you.
6. Remove All the Distractions
Distractions are a writer’s staunch enemy. So when it’s time to write, set all distractions aside and make writing your sole focus.
Yes, that means turning away from your mobile and closing unnecessary browser tabs. Aim for the goals mentioned earlier and don’t succumb to these distractions until you achieve them.
Installing anti-distraction apps like FocusMe on my laptop and mobile has greatly helped me stay on track.
7. Embrace Imperfection in First Drafts
As wisely said by revered novelist Ernest Hemingway, “The first draft of anything is sh*t.”
Don’t worry about perfection during the initial writing phase. This means don’t go back to edit, fix grammar or spelling, or any mistakes. When you begin editing along the way, your writing gets slowed down, and you get distracted, disrupting the writing momentum.
So, get to editing only when you’ve completed your draft. Let your creativity flow without your inner critic stifling it. The aforementioned writing sprints have helped me a lot with developing this habit and curbing the editor side of me!
8. Plan Before You Write
Before you begin, establish what you’ll write and plan a brief outline or roadmap so that you have a clear direction to follow during your writing session.
If you try to wing it, you might not only jumble things up, but it’ll also affect your productivity, ending up with you staring at a blank document with no idea what to write.
I keep an outline with bullet points for your writing goals and write based on it. It does wonders in helping me stay focused and productive.
9. Utilize Shorthands
As you write the first draft, feel free to indulge in a shorthand system. It can save you so much time.
For example, you can try looking into the Gregg shorthand, which is a system of abbreviated writing used for fast note-taking and transcription. You can even come up with your own or mix up the systems. Find out what works best for you.
Just make sure that they remain easy for you to decipher later on!
10. Skip Difficult Parts Temporarily
Is there a specific scene that you’re just not sure how to put into words well? Or perhaps a dialogue is just not coming out quite right? Well, don’t mull over it for too long!
If it’s taking you a while, just skip it for the time being if you already know what you’ll write next. Getting stuck in one place disrupts your momentum and focus for the next parts.
When faced with such situations, I simply put a note roughly and briefly describing the skipped part and move on. I come back to it later on and I’m often able to get it done quicker with a fresh mind.
11. Try Voice-to-Text
One thing I’ve found to be particularly interesting is getting the draft done with voice-to-text. My thoughts transfer much quicker than writing, and it feels more fluid overall. Notta is my go-to tool for this.
Of course, it’s easy for it to become a jumbled mess, especially if you get deeply lost in your train of thought, speaking from experience. So you should be ready to edit a ton. Definitely something worth trying to see if it works for you.
Writing may take time and effort, but with the right techniques and habits, you can speed up your writing process. Remember that it’s okay to take it at your pace as well!
Practice writing daily, try writing sprints, and set achievable goals. Remember to maintain good posture and handwriting technique. Minimize distractions, don’t aim for perfection in your first draft, and know what you’ll write before starting. Consider using shorthands and don’t get stuck on difficult parts. Try voice-to-text for a quicker flow of thoughts.
By incorporating these tips into your writing routine, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a more productive and efficient writer.