For some writers, there are urgent deadlines; for others, a larger quantity of writing means a badly needed larger paycheck. And in both instances, quality has to remain high – expectations of the receivers of that writing must be met. So how do you punch out volumes at a fast pace and still retain quality? Here are six tips/strategies that you will want to consider.
Your Productive Time – Never Sacrifice It
When I was in college, I took my toughest classes as early in the morning as they were offered. Even with as little as four hours sleep, if I could get two cups of coffee down my gullet, I was ready to roar. I could focus, take great notes, and remember more later. My roommate, on the other hand, had more productivity in the evenings. He looked for night classes. Both of us were able to crank out essays and papers faster during our productive times too. Everyone has a time of day (or night) when s/he is the most productive – it’s like it is imprinted in our DNA. You know when yours is, and you have to take advantage of that. This time, the period should be sacred to you, and never interrupted unless there’s fire or flood.
- Don’t allow others to “Sap” your time with conversation and distractions
- Manage your phone – tell everyone that you are doing so in advance; if you need to keep your phone on, take only those calls that come from VERY IMPORTANT people – your child or your child’s school, for instance. Your spouse/partner and friends/relatives should know in advance not to call unless it’s vital.
- Check your email as you are about to go into your productive time, and not again until that time is over. Muster up that self-discipline.
- You don’t get the reward until you produce. My personal reward is a Snickers bar. That doesn’t happen until I have been at it for two hours. The only time I get up is to get more coffee, and that pot is about 4-feet away from my desk.
Follow that Outline/Imbed those Links
Whether you write novels or blog posts, you know you have to have an outline – the order in which points are to be made or the plot is to develop. Sometimes, it may be really bare bones; other times it will be detailed enough that much of your writing is already done for you. The point is this: You can write faster if your plan is before you, and you don’t have to think about what is supposed to come next. And if your writing involves research, do that research first and then put the links you will be using next to each point of your outline. You can then easily access them with a click, as you get to the next section. Figure out the best place for your outline – the placement is important if you are looking for speed.
- Some writers actually print out the outline and have it beside them as they work.
- Others put it in a column to the left of their screen
- Putting it at the top is probably not the best idea – you have to keep going back to refer to it.
- Putting it below what you are writing is a good idea. It is there just beneath what you are currently writing, and you can delete each element as it is finished
You are not seeking perfection right now. You are seeking to get ideas out and on the screen in a logical way. It doesn’t matter whether you are writing a novel or a blog post, there is an order in which the ideas, events, points must occur. Use that outline and just keep writing.
- If you are at a loss for a word, just type a “fill in the blank” line and come back later. Don’t lose the flow agonizing over a word – it will come to you later
- Stop worrying about the little things like punctuation – this is cleanup work that you can do during non-productive times. Every time you stop to re-read for mechanics is a disruption to your flow. The content quality is what you are going for right now. When you see those red and blue lines under words and phrases, ignore them – that’s for later.
When the Heat is On – Set Priorities and Order of Completion
Obviously, the shorter deadlines require you, to begin with, those pieces. If you have any flexibility at all, however, go after the most difficult writing pieces first and leave the easier ones for when you are less alert. There is something wonderful about the feeling that you got a really horrible piece completed and submitted. It will motivate you to go after those easier ones. And for you students who are struggling with a bunch of pieces all due at one time and absolutely no time to get them all done, consider using some college essay writers for the pieces that are not in your major field of study, No one will condemn you for it.
Be Proud but Not Narcissistic
One of the things that slow writers down is the compelling need to go back and re-read what they have written and “bask in the glow” of the “beauty of it all.” If you are in the middle of any piece of writing, don’t go back, especially if this is during your productive time. You can be proud and savor the great piece you have written later. Continually going back and patting yourself on the back is wasteful. Admit it – you do sometimes do this – we all do.
You have to figure out how often you need a break, and this may vary with what you are producing at the moment. If your piece is requiring deep research and lots of brain power, you may need more frequent breaks. If you are writing a “fluff” piece that requires creativity but not much intellect, you should be able to go much longer between breaks. Set a timer, whether that is an app you use or a physical one. My oven timer works great since I work in a nook right off my kitchen.
The Grunt Work – Editing and Proofreading
Okay. The piece is finished. But you don’t have a title and you still have to go back and edit/proofread before submission. Fortunately, this work doesn’t involve lots of brain power, and so it can be accomplished during your non-productive times.
To streamline the process, use an app that will correct your punctuation and point out your grammar and style errors (e.g. passive voice or sentence structure) as well as the mechanical “fixes” you need. Do this first and then you can re-read for the “larger picture.”
A Final Word
There is no magic formula for productivity in writing. You already have the ability to produce quality or you would not be in the business of writing. Improving your speed, however, takes trial and error and practice. Maybe one or more of these tips will work for you. What do you have to lose? Try them out.