No matter how hard you try, it can sometimes be a battle to finish a piece of writing. Whether you’re writing a paper, article, novel or email, it can be a struggle to express your ideas quickly and clearly. Just like anything else, however, a little practice goes a long way towards fast, quality writing. With seven simple techniques, you can greatly minimize the amount of time you waste not writing, and increase the speed you do write. Plus, the more you do them, the easier these great writing habits get.
You Could Write Your Introduction Last
“My advice is to finish the book, then scrap the first chapter all together and write it again without looking at the original.” — Dr. Kim Wilkins
One way to write quicker is to write your introduction or first paragraph after writing everything else. If you have the majority of your writing planned out, it’s often faster to jump right in with what you’re planning on saying. This way, you won’t need to agonize over your content fitting the tone of the introduction. Additionally, writing the introduction last means you know exactly what you need to summarize, as it’s already on the page. Finally, writing your introduction last lets you avoid staring at a blank page, wondering where to begin. Once you have some things down, it can be much easier to put together an intro, saving you time.
You Could Be Flexible On Wording
Another way to waste time when you’re trying to write is to agonize over every word. Like staring at a blank page, searching endless thesaurus definitions will knock you off track and interrupt your flow. Especially on the first draft, don’t worry if your wording isn’t quite right. Go through your document after finishing your draft, looking specifically for words you could improve. Better yet, highlight or change the text color of words you know you want to come back to. This way, you can keep your train of thought moving without your work suffering.
You Could Do All Your Research First
Nothing is a bigger distraction than needing to do research in the middle of your writing. Research can be time consuming, plus it will likely make you forget the point you are trying to make. Do as much research as you possibly can before you begin writing. This lets you focus all your energy on writing, without interrupting your thoughts.
You Could Outlaw Distractions
“It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.” — Jonathan Franzen
Especially when you’re writing on a computer or device, it can be easy to get distracted. To save time, treat every trip away from your writing document as dangerous. The best way to avoid getting distracted is to leave your document as little as possible. Try keeping all your research and sources in the top portion of a document, then do your writing in the bottom portion of the document. Keep it organized with a slash or image between the two halves. This way, you won’t run the risk of getting caught in surfing the web or answering email every time you need to check your information.
You Could Relax On Your First Draft
“The first draft of everything is sh**.” ― Ernest Hemingway
Similar to rewording sentences as you write, nitpicking too much the first time around will slow you down. Most experts agree that your first draft is always going to need work. This means that no matter how long you take to make everything perfect, you will still need revisions. It’s much faster to keep your momentum going, than it is to get back on track several times a paragraph. Save yourself time as you write by powering through your first draft, then doing all your revisions at once.
You Could Set A Writing Timer
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” ― Jack London
Another way to increase how fast you write is to set a time, then force yourself to keep writing until it goes off. Not only will this force you away from distractions, if you’re struggling to come up with material, free flow writing can help you come up with ideas. Setting a timer and writing free form is also useful as a warm up exercise to get you in the zone.
You Could Easily Outthink Cliches
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov
When your struggling to find writing that grabs a reader, a quick way to burst through cliches is to be as specific as possible. Over generalizing descriptions can be too vague to garnish attention. For example, rather than having a character exclaim they’re freezing, have them say that the threads of their mittens are freezing to their fingers. By taking vague descriptions or phrases and being highly specific, you can quickly revise your writing, while improving your writing’s impact.
Featured photo credit: Pete O’Shea via flickr.com