How to Become an 800% Faster Writer in 12 Weeks

  • June 14, 2010 by Guest Writer
  • 21 Comments

become a faster writer

Guest post by J. D. Bentley of Wage Slave Rebel

Twelve weeks ago I was an entirely different blogger. Hell, I wonder if you could even call me a blogger back then. I was struggling just to churn out three decent posts per week. And guest posting? Forget it. Who had the time.

I’d put it off all day and then when I finally made myself sit down at the computer I’d just stare at a blank page. It could take me anywhere from two to six hours just to get a single 600 word post out the door and the worst of it was that these posts weren’t two-to-six-hours worth of good.

Spend that kind of time on a short piece of writing and you’d expect it to be a masterpiece. They were good, but not what you’d expect if you saw me writing them.

Today that’s all changed. Now I sit down and knock one out of the park in 30 minutes or less! I’m talking about posts that I’m passionate about and that I actually enjoy writing. It no longer feels like a chore, but a calling.

How did I do it? What brought about this change? Well, back in March I committed to creating a course to teach new bloggers the foundation they need to get started and reach their first 500 subscribers. I’d be teaching them about how to find a niche, buy a domain, setup WordPress, get a design, create content, promote that content and on and on. The whole nine yards!

It was foolishly ambitious. Here I am, Mr. I-Can’t-Handle-Three-Posts-Per-Week, seriously thinking about writing substantial posts for paying customers nearly every day of the week. I second guessed myself many times. I had a hard time believing I could do it, but I pushed ahead anyway and I’m glad I did. I’m a better blogger for it… a faster blogger who creates quality content.

There are a few really essential lessons I learned from that kind of intense blogging and I think they are lessons any blogger would benefit from learning.

1. Challenge Yourself

There’d be nothing else on this list if I didn’t challenge myself. As with anything in life, it’s really easy to get into a certain routine and to find yourself or your blog stagnating. You have to shake things up and take chances on projects that scare the shit out of you. You’re going to be afraid, but it won’t be because you can’t do it. It will be because you aren’t giving yourself enough credit.

When you think about putting really big plans into action it’s easier to think about what a catastrophic failure it could be than what a life-changing success it could be. I think anyone who really takes chances could never fail. Even if things don’t work out, the lessons you take away from it can easily contribute to other successes in your life.

2. Find Your Ideal Writing Time

I’ve been blogging to some extent for years and writing for many more, but this still hadn’t occurred to me in all that time. One of the reasons I always had such a hard time writing posts is because I was inundated with distractions (sound familiar?). Tweets and Google Reader and instant messaging and the phone, not to mention Facebook’s ever-present and overly-sensual beckoning (which did not go unheeded.)

In twelve weeks of having very hard deadlines every day, I had to quickly figure out how I was going to get things finished on time. I can’t tell you what your ideal writing time is, but by around the third week I had found mine: as soon as I wake up and before I do anything else. No messengers on, no email notifications, cell phone on vibrate. Just me and a text editor. What I needed was absolute solitude without anything present that could pull me out of my creative flow.

3. Implement an Accountability System

When all your deadlines are self-imposed, they tend to be quite a bit more flexible than you originally intended. Sometimes you’ll be tempted to miss them altogether. As a blogger I’m just a one man operation so it was really easy to avoid setting strict goals. The blogging course changed that.

Once it got started, I had paying members eagerly waiting for my content each day. It’s different when your readers are actually *paying* you. If you fail to deliver they can ask for a refund and then complain to everyone about how bad your course sucks. It’d be a failure from the start!

Obviously, most bloggers won’t have the opportunity to get paid directly for their writing so that’s not really an option for accountability.

I’ve had discussions before about how bloggers can be held accountable. The best solution I’ve heard is to create an accountability group. It would be like a blogging alliance whose only purpose is to keep everyone on schedule and posting regularly.

4. Plan Everything Ahead of Time

I went from barely putting out three posts a week to having five posts per week scheduled to be published a week before they were due. What makes this possible is planning! Simple enough, right?

The blogging course taught me that I really wasn’t a slow, mediocre writer. I was just spending most of my writing time 1) not knowing what I would write about and 2) hating the topic I chose. When you plan ahead that doesn’t happen.

For the course I had a vague outline for every week’s content. I knew what had to be written and when it was due. When the time came, I could sit down and churn out a lesson in 30 minutes or less. Not just that, but I would actually be writing what I felt to be *spectacular* content. Not okay content or good content, but great content.

This combination of speed plus quality was absolutely foreign to me. Early on I knew I needed to somehow break down what I was doing into a system I could apply to any other writing I needed to do.

First, I set up an idea file. I use Notational Velocity for Mac to collect all my potential post ideas into a massive backlog. Then, on Sunday I sit down and go through the backlog and choose the five ideas I’d like to publish for the week. I create an outline for each that consists of an introduction and three or four headings (this takes about five minutes for each). Believe it or not, having the small outlines actually helps me speed through the posts. On each Sunday, I’m now capable of writing five posts in three hours.

If you’re a blogger I really hope this advice can help you take your game to a whole new level. If you want to really see results, do your own twelve week challenge. Write at least once a day for the next 90 days and I guarantee that you will see a vast improvement in your writing and your writing process.

photo by mikebaird

J. D. Bentley is a writer, designer, coder and online entrepreneur. Find out more about J. D. at Wage Slave Rebel or about his twelve-week blogging course.


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Mars Dorian June 14, 2010 at 2:12 am

That’s a damn useful post, J.D.

because I’m really stuck with writing. Like you in the beginning, I need a few hours (!) to write a cool blog post, that is simply toooo much. Planning your work, and giving yourself headlines sounds like a kick-ass idea. I did something similar in the beginning, and it worked for everything but blogging.

I’m going to read it again, and again, and again…

J. D. Bentley June 14, 2010 at 5:43 am

Thanks, Mars. Glad you found it useful. I’ve definitely found that outlining my posts and having them chosen beforehand really cuts the time it takes for me to write. I think what’s most important is taking some time to figure out what works for you. It took me a long while to figure out this system and it may or may not work for others, but as long as you keep exploring new methods you’re bound to figure it out sooner or later.

Srinivas Rao June 14, 2010 at 5:53 am

JD,

Congrats on getting your product launched. I’ve experienced many of the things you have described here. Of all the things that have been instrumental in my ability to write a post quickly, it has been finding the ideal writing time. Once I’m in the writers zone, then words just flow. Another thing I would say is understand what the fuel is for your creative fire. I usually come up with all my best blog post ideas when I’m out in the water surfing. Once you understand what fuels your creative fire you can align writing time accordingly

J. D. Bentley June 14, 2010 at 5:57 am

Oh yeah, I definitely agree. I tend to take long walks outside and I usually come back with at least 2 or 3 ideas for posts. That’s really the “fuel for my creative fire”, just getting away from the computer and observing the present.

Cori Padgett June 14, 2010 at 6:27 am

LOVE this post J.D.! Excellent advice here, and some I need to put more into practice myself! :) My problem is allowing myself to get distracted, so I think I need to find an accountability partner when it comes to writing for sure. Thanks for a great idea. :)

C

J. D. Bentley June 14, 2010 at 10:24 am

Accountability partners definitely help, maybe even striking up some friendly competition. Anyway, really glad you liked the post! I’m always happy to help.

Peter Jay June 14, 2010 at 8:01 am

Thanks JD.
Useful post. Content is blog’s valuable asset. Even I can’t write in English propely but you tips give me an idea how to become more better. :)

J. D. Bentley June 14, 2010 at 10:27 am

Content is definitely a valuable asset and the more efficiently you can create high-quality posts the better off you’ll be. If there’s any way to strike a balance between design and content, where they are both just at this amazing level, then I think things will take off even faster.

Sherryl Perry June 14, 2010 at 8:04 am

I found your post to be very encouraging. I’ve been blogging for about 12 weeks myself and while it is taking me less time to write my posts, I certainly can’t churn one out in 30 minutes yet. I find the idea of creating an accountability group intriguing. This may be just what I need to do.

J. D. Bentley June 14, 2010 at 10:29 am

Glad I could encourage you. For me, accountability was important but the most important thing is outlining each post well before I ever intend to write it. That’s probably the thing that creates the most speed. If you are already confident about what you are writing and know where the post has to go, you’ll get into that creative flow much faster and you won’t be able to stop writing until you’re finished.

ron June 14, 2010 at 9:33 am

grabbed your ebook as well, good stuff, solid design which sometimes seems to lack in the world of free ebooks…

anyway thanks, looks like I need a plan, and some community because I stopped blogging after … oh two weeks! here you can see I still have not posted http://www.enhanceux.com (but there are some cool thumbnails)

Thanks for the post! hope to make this happen

J. D. Bentley June 14, 2010 at 10:32 am

Awesome! I worked pretty hard on giving it a less generic look. I can’t stand bad (or even mediocre) design.

And what the heck, Ron!? Your blog looks so good. If you could maintain some consistency I guarantee you’d take off quickly. Your blog makes you look like someone to take seriously, the design, the content. You really look like an expert. Get back in there!

If I can help at all, let me know.

Tony Ruiz June 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Great tips JD. The accountability system sounds like a great idea buddy! Congrats on your launch once again :)

Vince Arnone June 20, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Great post. Do you ever outline when you write your ideas down? I found its handiest for me to keep my ideas as drafts in Wordpress. I can add links and content that I don’t want to forget right then and there.

I am still struggling with writing productivity, but I’m getting better, and its no doubt these tactics will help.

Cheers

Pat November 6, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Smart post J.D – thanks for that and all of the great reminders that were enclosed in it.

I always write my posts between the hours of 10pm and 2am, because it’s when I write the fastest and the ideas flow the best. I’ve tried to write earlier, but for some reason I just can’t think as well.

I even think an actual “how to type faster” course would be useful, because just imagine how much time you could save…all of those seconds add up over a lifetime, and we’ll definitely be using a computer for the rest of our lives…well, until crazy weird things beyond our imagination happen…lol.

Writing skills and photoshop skills are key to helping me get things done fast.

Cheers J.D. – hope all is well!

Conor Neill November 7, 2010 at 1:55 am

I resonate with your words!
I have gone from anguish-wracked-suffering writer to just keep the words out and stop thinking about it writer – by cutting out distractions, committing to dates (that other people are waiting for) and saying to my brain “I will write 2000 words today and I don’t care if it has to be the word ‘the’ repeated 2000 times… so hands… start writing!” I tend to write 2-3 paragraphs of crap, but then my lizard brain gives up trying to procrastinate, enjoy distraction… and the words start coming, and the ideas develop.

Paolo Sambrano November 7, 2010 at 9:00 am

Great post, J.D. – I’m a big fan of Wage Slave Rebel, it was one of the first ‘lifestyle design’ blogs I started reading when I got into this scene.

Cosigned on the planning ahead. I’m stepping my blog game up, and found that by just having a bunch of drafts in my WP Dashboard with (mostly) formed ideas for posts, half my work was already done. And all I had to do was refine and make all the writing pop. Boom.

Kati May 18, 2012 at 11:48 am

Thanks for this great post – you’re right, one of the most important and useful ways to give yerself a kick up the backside is to put yourself under pressure from other people, who are paying for your product! Other people’s opinions and money sure can change a lot – and it’s a win-win situation: you write better and deliver better product, and your readers are happy as they are getting their money’s worth. Very exciting, I am getting ready to up my game too! Katie.

Mike February 3, 2013 at 4:24 pm

The way I see it is that you also have to get out there and practice! If you don’t take regular time to be able to start focusing on writing anything-even if you think it is utter garbage-will help you develop writing ability. I found that in most cases that I can write faster as a result of writing daily (or more often than I would otherwise). The other tips are to help you get there faster than you would if you just wrote.

Ron June 14, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Thanks J.D. a little encouragement goes a long way, I’ll let you know when things are up and running and beware I may hit you up for some help.

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