You sit confidently, ideas in mind, plan in hand.
Joyfully you click-clack away, breezing almost effortlessly through your writing.
After a while, you pause and go get a tall, cool glass of water, do some stretching, and read a heart-warming story. And then you jump back in.
Before you know it, you’re done with your first draft. It didn’t take forever. And it didn’t stress you out.
You happily move on, knowing that you’ve worked hard, written well, and will finish soon.
Does this describe you?
Do you write quickly and efficiently, at your most productive time, in the most productive way?
Or do you feel like your writing takes longer than it should?
As a blogger, how much money you make depends, in part, on how fast you can write, and write well.
Not to mention it feels good to write in your most efficient way, without stress.
So, how long does it take to write a good blog post?
According to the survey by Andy Crestodina of over 1,000 bloggers, 54% of bloggers spend two hours or less on a post. The average post takes 2.5 hours. And only about 5% spend more than six hours on a post.
How long is a typical blog post?
According to the survey, the average post is around 800 words. 80% of bloggers create content that is 1,000 words or less on average, and only 5% of bloggers write articles of at least 1,500 words on average.
Whether you normally write short posts or long ones, you’re reading this because you want to write faster, without sacrificing quality.
And you want to feel at peace, knowing you are making the best use of your time.
You can get faster and more efficient at writing.
Let’s get started!
1. Know Your Starting Point
So, how long does it take you to write?
If you want to take steps to improve your time, it would be wise to know where you’re starting from.
Just as runners wear a running watch to track their progress and set goals, you can use a time tracker such as Toggl to figure out just how much time you actually take to write.
Then you can measure your growth as you implement these strategies.
2. Figure Out How You Write Best
Use a simple spreadsheet to help figure out your optimal way to write. Every time you write, record where you are writing, your start and stop times, and how many words you write.
You can also include extra notes, such as whether or not you were listening to music, how you were feeling, or information about your breaks.
Over time this will yield valuable information about how and where you write best.
You may be surprised to learn that you actually work best in a coffee shop in the afternoon, or that you are more productive when you have two hours to write instead of one.
3. Write About Topics You Enjoy
Writing about topics you don’t like is not fun. And your inclination will be to avoid it or rush through it.
On the other hand, there is joy and ease in writing what you want.
And this improves your writing, as well. You are much more likely to write an epic post about a topic that you care about than one that makes you yawn or want to pull your hair out.
While you may not always be able to write about your favorite topics, at least try to avoid topics you find mind-numbingly boring or stressful.
4. Conquer the Blank Page
When you sit down to write, be ready to jump in.
Keep track of your ideas so that you always have one at the ready.
Whether you keep them in a Google doc or folder, a physical notebook, or in Evernote, make sure you have a system for capturing your ideas, and use it.
5. Start With a Written Plan
Rachel Aaron, author of 2k to 10K, How to Write Faster, Write Better, and Write More of What You Love, says her most effective strategy to boost writing speed is to start out with knowledge–know what you’re going to write before you write it.
That means taking a few minutes before you start to briefly sketch out your article. You can make a list, make an outline, or just jot down the main ideas you want to cover.
6. Silence Your Inner Critic
Is there a voice in your head making disparaging comments about your writing?
In the beginning stages of writing, your inner critic is not at all helpful and will only slow you down.
Do not listen to him!
Brainstorm with abandon. Don’t worry about whether it’s good, or whether it really belongs here. Just get all your ideas out of your head.
Do this by hand if that helps. A mind map is a fun and effective way to generate and organize ideas.
And when you write your first draft, just write. You can make it better later.
Remember, you can’t fix what you haven’t written.
7. Use a Post Structure or Template
Neil Patel of Quicksprout explains 12 different ways to structure a post, such as a list, review, or inverted pyramid.
Using a template is kind of like doing a fill-in-the-blank worksheet. You can always change it up and make it your own, but just having a structure in mind will make writing easier and faster.
8. Accept Mediocrity
Your first goal is not to write well. It is simply to write.
Just keep on slogging through the swamp of mediocre, even bad, writing.
Once you have your first draft, feel free to hack away with the delete-button machete, fine-tuning and rewriting your way through the tangled mass.
You will get to the promised land of good writing, and maybe even make it to the land of amazing, epic writing.
Just roll up your sleeves, and get started!
9. Remove Distractions
Do small children climb all over you or ask you for a snack every five minutes? Do other people continually interrupt you, even though you’ve told them you’re working?
Write when they’re asleep or not there, or leave the house.
Try listening to music or use earplugs to drown out the distractions.
If the Internet is a big distraction for you, then figure out what you need to do to avoid it. Use an app, turn off your wifi, leave the house. Whatever you need to do, do it.
10. Write a Different Way
Karen Dionne found that when she wrote by hand, she slowed down and thought more about her words, and she also wasted less time correcting small typos. Thus, her first draft ended up being quicker and better, saving her time in the revising stage.
You can also find other ways to switch it up.
11. Spread Out Your Drafts
If you’re at the point in your writing where words are swimming in front of your eyes, try setting it aside for a while.
Taking a break between stages not only helps you find errors that you would have missed otherwise, it also allows your subconscious mind to work on it while you’re doing other things.
When you revisit it, you’ll often find your writing is quicker and easier.
12. Stay Focused During Research
Don’t get sucked down the rabbit hole of the Internet. Although it’s easy to be lured into reading about interesting topics, stay strong!
Copy and paste the urls of interesting articles into a Google doc so you can read them later. Then close the tab!
13. Save Your (Unused) Work
When you realize you just went off on a huge tangent, DO NOT DELETE!
Save it! In the future it might be its own post or part of one.
Never throw away good writing. That’s like throwing away your arm. Well, sort of.
14. Format When You’re Done
When you constantly stop to format, it’s easy to lose your train of thought. Don’t do it!
Minor formatting is okay, if it makes it easier for you to read. Just save the real work of formatting until the end.
15. Stay In the Flow
Don’t get out of your flow by trying to figure something out or look something up.
If you need to include a link or do a fact check, wait.
Just put in something to remind you to do this later. You can type XXX or a word such as “link” or “check” in parentheses. Or put a question mark.
You can go back and do that later when you’re done with your draft.
16. Make It Easy to Read
A big part of writing is reading and rereading what you have written. If your eyes are hurting and tired, that is sure to slow you down.
If you’ve been experiencing eye strain, try f.lux. It warms up the color display of your monitor and drastically reduces glare. Your eyes will feel better the instant you turn it on. Try it!
Also, who says you have to type in a tiny black font?
Use a big, easy-to-read font that you like.
You can even have a little fun with the color while making it easier on the eyes.
Blue, dark gray, or purple, perhaps?
17. Practice Writing Headlines
Copyblogger points out that the headline should take at least 50% of your writing time for the most important posts you write, and be given due respect (and time) for all of the posts you write.
To write better headlines faster, set aside some time to learn about and practice writing headlines.
Jon Morrow wrote 100 headlines a day at the advice of Brian Clark.
He now has a $100,000/month blog.
Do you want other people to read what you write? Of course you do!
Practice writing headlines!
Sometimes You Just Feel Stuck…
When this happens, don’t panic.
It happens to everyone, but you don’t have to stay there.
18. Ask For Help or Feedback
You can waste a lot of time worrying about something. Don’t do it!
Feel free to ask for advice or feedback.
19. Refocus On Your Reader
What does she want? What does she need?
How can you give her those things and make her happy?
20. Check Out the View From Above
Reread. What do you need to do finish this?
Make a list of everything you need to do. Make note of anything you need to add, research you need to finish, sections that need to be reworked, etc. Don’t stop to actually do them until you have gone through your entire article.
Then do those tasks and check them off. Voila! You’ve made major progress.
21. Take a Break
Sometimes being stuck is just a sign that you need a break.
Research shows that taking breaks increases productivity.
Not sure how to incorporate breaks into your writing practice?
This article details different ways to take breaks, as well as great ideas for what to actually do while you’re on your break.
22. Write, Write, Write
Write more. Write every day. Write anyway.
Keep on writing.
Even when you don’t feel like it.
In other words, practice. You will get faster (and better) as you continue to write.
It will get easier!
You deserve to write faster and make more money for your time. Do you struggle with not writing as fast as you’d like? What’s holding you back?
Which of these strategies will you try this week? Which do you already use?
Share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you have other strategies that have worked for you, I’d love to hear about them!