Have you ever tried to write a blog post in the space between two client meetings, or after work before it’s time to sit down for dinner – only to find that you never get to never finish your blog on time?
There are usually two reasons why this happens (apart from just not having enough time). One, you are a perfectionist. And two, you get lost in the research.
So, how do you fix this problem?
I am not the fastest writer out there, which makes me the perfect person to write about this topic. I had to work hard and try many different techniques to figure out how to become faster at writing. Over time, I worked out a system that works best for me, which is what I want to share with you today.
Perfectionism Is Holding You Back
Let’s talk about perfectionism first. Remember that you are not writing an article for Forbes or the Business Insider. It doesn’t need to be perfect. The purpose of your blog is to help people. So write for your clients in a way that you know will guide and educate them. It is the content that matters, not whether the blog is Forbes-worthy or completely error-free.
My Writing Process
Next, you need to work on a process that you can follow consistently to help you generate more content in a shorter period of time. Here is my process:
- First, I research the topic that I want to write about. If the topic is one that I know by heart or I’m writing about my experience, like with this blog, I spend some time making notes and working on the layout for the blog. Topics that you may want to do research on include tax changes or a how-to post about your accounting program of choice. I usually do this part on the couch or somewhere else comfortable. Research shouldn’t take you more than an hour, but if you know the topic well, or you don’t need to do any research, limit this stage to 15 or 20 minutes.
- Next, write a rough draft. And when I say rough, I mean that you should just write whatever comes into your head. Don’t try to make the writing perfect – you may fall into a loop of endlessly fixing your previous sentence while forgetting what you wanted to say next. Just get your thoughts on paper. Then leave it. Let it lie for at least an hour. When I can, I let it soak overnight. Again, this step shouldn’t take you longer than an hour, but if it is a short blog or an easy topic, limit your time to 30 or 40 minutes.
- The next step is to rewrite and polish your blog. If you gave it some time to settle, this step will be easy enough to do. During this stage, look for mistakes or sections where the words don’t flow easily. Cut out unnecessary or repetitive sentences, or rewrite a phrase that isn’t clear. Again, the maximum time that this step should take is an hour, but for an easy topic try to limit it to 30 or 40 minutes.
The other great thing about splitting the process into three different steps is that it’s easier to fit each stage into short gaps available during the day.
Use Music as a Cue
I also use music as a cue. My trainer asked me the other day if I listen to classical music when I write because that’s what he has heard that writers do. I’m not particularly fond of classical music, and unless you are, don’t fall for this myth. Listen to music that you actually enjoy.
When I do research, I listen to any music that I’m in the mood for. When I do the rough draft, I listen to upbeat music, like something you would listen to when working out. I find that this helps the words to flow better, and helps me to write quicker. And, for the polishing stage, I prefer complete silence as I want to concentrate without any distractions.
The different kinds of music get me into the right mood and signal to my brain what it is supposed to do.
Tools You Can Use to Improve Your Writing Process
I like to use technology to make my writing process smoother. Here are some of the tools that I often use:
To track my time, I use an app on my phone called Toggl. Another good app that you might want to consider is Harvest.
If you write your blog in Word or a Google document, you can use the built-in spell-check to make sure your writing is error-free. Another app that you can use is Grammarly. This app goes a little deeper and picks up more mistakes than the aforementioned ones. Remember to select whether you are writing in American or British English. If you want to add another level of assurance, you can always enlist a human editor to check your writing when you’re done.
I recently found a great new function in Google Docs: Voice typing. So instead of writing your first draft, just vocalise your thoughts and Voice typing will transcribe your words. I used Voice typing to write the first draft of this blog. This app only works in the Chrome browser. It doesn’t record punctuations, and if you don’t articulate your words clearly, it may pick up the wrong words. So, you will always have to go back and fix a few things, but it is still faster than just writing.
We’re all different, and what works for one person may not work for another. You may find that my process doesn’t work for you at all, but try it out first and see what happens. The more you write, the more you’ll discover the techniques that work for you, and which don’t.
Have fun writing!