4 Easy Steps to Writing Faster and In Less Time

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Image of ideas for writing faster and in less timeAt the beginning of the year, 2014, I joined the ranks of New Year’s Resolutioners and committed myself headlong into writing like I’ve never written before, consistently, persistently, and voluminously.

I, like many other writers, have found that consistent, worthwhile production is the holy grail, hidden in some far away land where only a lucky few seem to find it.

Some time ago I encountered the idea of building a regular habit of writing 1000 words a day. Unfortunately, I don’t recall the name of the author, or her book that recommended this practice, but thanks to her, and some new year’s determination, I was able to consistently practice this habit for 22 days, and in the process, write over 39,000 words.

Now I didn’t do it to impress you. However, I did end up impressing myself with how easy it is to produce when I commit myself to a specific and attainable, daily goal.

So how did I start writing faster? What did I learn? Why did I stop (Yes, I stopped)? And, will I start again? Well, as you can see from this article, I’ve started again on March 5, 2014.

How You Can Start Writing Faster Today

  1. Picked a topic of interest.
  2. Chose a time with no interruptions.
  3. Set a timer. (More on this later.)
  4. Keep a spreadsheet of daily words written with a running total.

What did I learn from my New Year’s experience?

Creating a habit produces great results. Had I continued my daily habit, by the date of this blog post, I would have written 150,890 words, enough by most standards to be a book.

Production begets production. In other words, I learned that the more I wrote, the easier it was to write. A 1000 words turned out to be not a difficult goal to reach. In fact, over the first 22 days of this New Year’s resolution, I actually averaged over 1700 words, even after missing several days.

Writing is easy. That’s right. It’s easier and easier to write when I actually write, and keep writing.

Write a thousand words a day… and in three years you’ll become a writer.” Ray Bradbury

Writing faster is easier than you think. In earlier attempts to build the writing habit, I had discovered that I could write 1000 words in an hour or two. In January, I wondered if I could do it faster. I read somewhere that you can increase the speed at which you do things simply by timing yourself. After timing myself for several days, I discovered that I could crank out 1000 words in about 40 minutes. I also discovered that it helped to turn off the spell check on my computer. Those darned squigly red lines always make me at least pause in my writing flow, but most often make me stop and edit myself in real time. Speed comes from writing un-distracted, as quickly as you can. Editing can come later in your off time.

Keep a daily record of your progress. Secret results are not motivating. From my days in sales, I learned that keeping record of my daily progress, with a historical total, can be very motivating, as long as you are actually active. Seeing the running total of words written continued to inspire me as I passed 10,000, than 20,000, then 30,000. As I approached 40,000 words I began to realize I was well on my way to writing a small book.

So, why did I stop, you may be asking, after such a productive run? This is a great question and one that is not simply answered. Suffice it to say at this time, the creative bug went a few hard rings in a not so professional wrestling ring.

If I can do it, you can too. I believe if you have the desire to do something, such as write, you can do it.

Related: How Writing 1000 Words a Day Changed My Life

In his blog post “How Writing 1000 Words a Day Changed My Life”, Srinivas Rao talks about the power of momentum in the habit of requiring yourself to write at least 1000 words per day. I found this power to be very real in my own experience, which is one reason I have chosen to get back on the horse.

Like Sriniva, I too found myself writing above and beyond my goal. In fact, on one day, I wrote over 4700 words. Looking at that number on my daily chart made me feel good. And for a writer, feeling good is like getting paid. Sometimes, it’s our only pay.

As I read through Srinivas article, I began to wonder what results I might have achieved had I continued with my writing. Be sure to click through to his article. I’m sure you’ll find in inspiring as I did.

Related: Just Write That Damned Book Already

“You wouldn’t believe how many people I meet who tell me they’ve got a great idea for a novel … if only they had the time to write!” Josh Finder

So, what are you and I going to do about that book? Why not just write it, as Josh Finder recommends. Turn off the spell check, the grammar check, and just write. Like me, you may be surprised as the 10s of thousands of words add up, and your story or your book just takes you away.

I used to be in the bad habit of complaining, “I don’t have time.” Then I learned that we all have the same amount of time. We all have 24 hours each day that we can dedicate as we choose. If you get fast, like me, you may be able to write 1000 words in 40 minutes or even less. Just sit down every day and set the timer.

Now, I no longer allow myself to use the words, “I don’t have time.” By carving out 40-60 minutes a day to write 1000 words, by the end of the year, you’ll have 365,000 words written, enough for more than one good book.

“You must write every single day of your life… You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads… may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
― Ray Bradbury

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