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Writing Fast Is A Learnable Skill

I probably learned to write fast when I was writing classified ads and sales letters for my father while I also raised kids and sold real estate. Although I love taking lots of time writing and digging deeply into my soul, my truth is that kind of writing doesn’t happen for me too often.

Along came blogging and I was almost in heaven. Add twitter.com with it’s original limit of 140 characters and I’m delighted. I can throw down thoughts, ideas, give instruction, and answer questions in fairly short order.

I know I do this, but I’ve never broken it down into steps. But Darren Rowse of ProBlogger found Alisa Bowman who did in an article called How To Write Fast. It’s excellent.

Why Write Fast?

I can hear some of you beginning to mutter, “but I love taking time over every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph… I owe it to my readers to take my time… It doesn’t seem right to write fast…”

I know, truly I do, but there are some very good reasons to write fast including:

  • Life isn’t supposed to be all about work.
  • Writing fast is the best way, IMO, to draft material of any sort. Once drafted, even a shitty rough draft, you actually have something to work with  and can begin the rewriting and editing process.
  • Writing fast helps to breaks up writer’s block.
  • Writing fast helps you keep deadlines. Editors love writers who consistently make deadlines.
  • Writing fast clears you mind and thinking so you know what’s next, even if it’s more writing.

How to learn to write fast

Study Darren’s article on the subject above. Then it’s a matter of practice. Really.

You can probably think of even more reasons. Let us know in comments.
Write well and often,


Photo by Kriss Szkurlatowski at: http://www.sxc.hu

{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Not having internet access is good at times…right now I take the old laptop into another room (no wireless connection)…I like Anne’s idea about turning down the contrast, too!
    I draft in Notepad most of the time (then paste into Word later), and have considered resizing the window so that I see only 4 or 5 lines…

  • Deb:

    They’d be helpful for me – the more time I spend in front of the monitor, the more likely I am to divert myself with non-writing tasks like check my Twitter feed, or posting comments on random freelance writing blogs 🙂

    .-= Mark Keating´s last blog ..Exxon Invests in Biofuel from Algae Production =-.

  • Deb Carr

    I really appreciate these tips, since I spend too much time putting too many words on the screen…Also, I have heard that there are some battery-operated keyboards (with memory) that only show 4 lines of text at once. Some writers claim that these help them compose faster. Are they helpful?
    .-= Deb Carr´s last blog ..Tools for Writers – Alpha Smart and NEO =-.

  • Another trick that can speed things up a little is to use unambiguous shorthand for words used frequently, then go back on a subsequent edit and do a seek-and-destroy with CTRL-H. For example, if you’re writing a book about, say, cognitive dissonance, type cogx instead. This can save a lot of time and can be caught later with spellcheck as a safety net. Autocorrect can be customized to do the same thing, but takes time to set up.
    .-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Tenirax, Ch V =-.

    • Anne

      now why didn’t I think of that… great idea Jorge, thanks

  • Sometimes I like to just make some notes, any old order, and then let them sit for a day. I write fiction, most of the time, and I hate finding that I’ve written myself into a corner. Writing 10,000 words in a weekend is great, but not if I have to throw them out later. Sometimes the creative process can’t be rushed. That’s my opinion, anyway.
    .-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Tenirax, Ch V =-.

    • Anne

      Agree Jorge, and sometimes, when I get impatient with that process, I tear up more than usual.

  • I think the key is to write fast, edit later. We’re all gonna have yucky first drafts — so we might as well get ’em down fast so we can bring out the beauty once we go through the content.

    Nice idea, Anne — turning down light on monitor.
    .-= Meryl K Evans´s last blog ..27 Most Used Applications in a Writing Business =-.

    • Anne

      lol, Meryl, I actually discovered the turning down the monitor trick when I was writing about my own rage… couldn’t bare to see it. Now I use it to keep from editing… the monitor, not the rage… rage is mostly gone.

  • Sax Rohmer believed in getting as much down on paper as fast as possible. He used to “write fast” by recording Dictaphone cylinders and then mailing them to London for transcription. I haven’t tried Dragon or other voice-to-text programs, but I may give it a shot. I think Dragon just had a price cut for their standard software.
    .-= jorgekafkazar´s last blog ..Tenirax, Ch V =-.

  • Anne:

    That made me laugh! I had a vision of Chevy Chase in Caddyshack just plopping in putt after putt: “Be the ball!”

    .-= Mark Keating´s last blog ..US subsidies of oil and coal more than double the subsidies of renewable energy =-.

  • Oh, I like that idea! Thanks for the tip.

  • Hey Mark:

    I’m learning! And you’re right, it is great advice.

    P.S. I lived 14 years in Lakewood, OH and still have family in the area. Small world…:-)

  • Cathy:

    Best writing advice I ever got was to not try to edit while writing. I struggle with it, but when I finally do manage to tamp down that little voice it’s amazing how much more quickly I write.

    .-= Mark Keating´s last blog ..LakewoodAlive to host forum on wind energy feasibility in Lake Erie – cleveland.com =-.

    • Anne

      Mark and Cathy and all… sometimes I’ll turn the screen down so low I can’t really see it – that keeps me from editing while drafting.

  • Uh…make that turn — I just created a new word–a combination of learn + learn to turn! There’s that little voice again! LOL!!

    • Anne

      I think I like tearn… 😉

      I draft pretty well too.

  • I find I actually do a better job when my inital draft is written quickly. Like others have said, it’s more productive for me to just throw the words out there and edit later. This is not easy for me. I have to resist the urge to self-edit while writing. But when I do that as I go along, I get too self-critical and throw barriers in my way. I have to tearn off that little voice. And sometimes she gets pretty loud. 🙂

  • I write fast so that I have time to edit and not miss deadlines. I find that as I write fast, the words just flow better. It is like being in a zone.
    The faster the more I can accomplish.

  • My # 1 reason for writing fast: I charge by the project! Faster writing equals more money.

    Actually, I would probably be a fast writer anyway. I just pretend I’m talking to a friend, and I let the words flow without worrying about every little detail. Then I go back and clean in up when I’m done. As the article said, I “throw up on the screen.” Kind of gross, but it works!

    Lesley’s last blog post..Pictures

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