How To Improve Your Writing Speed
Do you want to write a lot in a very short period of time? Do you want to improve your writing speed to the point where massive projects take only a few hours?
If you do, then this is the article for you. I’m going to talk about how you can achieve word counts that will make other writers think that you are either superhuman or a liar.
The Other Day…
A few friends of mine were talking on Twitter about how to improve your typing speed. I thought I’d written about this already, but apparently I haven’t.
Here are my thoughts on how to improve your typing speed, and, by extension, how to improve your writing speed.
As far as playing games and doing technical exercises is concerned, you can use them to improve your typing speed. However, you will plateau quite quickly. I’ll talk about why that is in a little while. However, here are a couple that I have used and that other people used and vouch for.
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Now Back To The Regular Programming Schedule…)
Ultimately, practice is king as far as improving your writing speed is concerned.
…So Is Setting High Standards
I saw this thread on Reddit earlier today when I was trying to find ideas for this topic.
I’ve had a terrible tech support type day where nothing works – I spent hours on the phone to a tech guy. Then I’ve been waiting for a call from some other guy. So on. Hence I was looking for topic ideas.
Anyway, I was looking on Reddit for topics to write about, and I found people talking about their word count.
They said stupid things like, “my daily word count is 1200.”
Someone said, “I write 9k if you count non-work, but 1-2k if you count just copywriting and other publishable content.”
Believe me, if I wrote out honestly what my consistent word count is on a daily basis, people would say I was full of it. They simply wouldn’t believe me.
I’m going to write more than these people above do every day as their maximum, and I haven’t written a publishable word until after 6pm.
(Edit: This article is over 1700 words. It’s 18:45 now.)
The first key to writing quickly is having the standards and belief-system in place that allows you to work hard and work quickly.
If you want to be a professional writer, then saying, “My upper limit is 1500 words and after that I can’t do anymore” is going to hold you back more than typing speed ever will.
Alright… You Get The Point
Writing, despite what the average creative would have you believe, is a skill which you can learn and optimise like any other. I don’t do it so much now, but earlier on when I was writing on freelance websites for the majority of my income, I used to sit with a stopwatch and time every single aspect of my writing.
From getting an email saying, “Congratulations, You’re hired,” to delivering the final email and sending the follow-up messages, I’d record it all. I’ve written about that before in this article on Optimising Your Workflow, but its let’s talk about writing and typing specifically.
About Freelancing and Word Counts
When you are freelancing, you will have a certain amount of hours in the day in which you can work. Only a certain amount of your freelance time will be available to you for writing. You have admin and other boring business stuff to do as well.
So, if you have four hours in the evening, anticipate spending only two hours writing.
Before you even start, I want you to grab a book and open it to a random page.
Type out the first couple of paragraphs you see. Time this.
You will find that you can type quite quickly. If you are looking at another document and transferring onto the screen, you will have an exact time and an exact word count. You will find this is probably quicker than you think it’s going to be.
My dad grew up in an age before computers. He only types with his index fingers. This is not very quickly. However, he can probably type 30 words a minute. With a bit of practice he could probably get to 50 words a minute. That’s a base level of typing literacy.
Fifty words a minute consistently over the course of two hours is three thousand words per hour or six thousand words total.
If you are aiming for one thousand words a day, I hope that you can see how ridiculously low that is.
That’s before you even started optimising anything, and before you start looking at how to actually get quicker typing.
The Next Step
Practice is king. You can use the games I mentioned in the above section, and they will help you. However, they are limited in a few ways.
Firstly, you are typing things that don’t really make any sense. From years of typing actual words onto a computer, I don’t think about the particular shape of my hands or the order of the keys. When you’re doing typing exercises, then you need to do that. However, when you are typing words, you just think of the word.
Also, your writing style is largely subconscious. When I’m typing words in an exercise, it’s very different to when I’m typing words that come from my mind. I will have certain language patterns which I always use. For instance, I always describe things as ‘a lot of’, or ‘a ton of’ things. That’s not what you get n exercises designed for your typing skills.
That said, play around with typing games until you get your typing speed up and you’re not really progressing. You’ll hit a plateau quite quickly with them.
After that, it’s practice, practice, practice.
There are numerous exercises to stop yourself from getting writer’s block online. The best one is to simply type until you break the spell. I’ve written about that numerous times, you can check the articles out here:
Curing Writer’s Block The Right Way
Most of the time, your writing speed will be impacted not by your ability to type, but by a mental block from not knowing what it is you’re going to type. Let’s talk about that some more.
The key to writing very quickly is knowing what you have to bright. You can split this in two numerous different areas for learning, but it will come down to 2 things mainly.
Firstly, you need to know what the project entails, the format of your writing and the subject of your writing.
If you sit down to write a novel, then you’re going to need to know who your characters are, what the plotters and what the setting is. That’s a bare minimum. There are some people who are good at writing as they go along, but I am not one of them. I also don’t recommend that you are one of them, because it will impact your ability to work quickly and produce high quality work a lot.
So, you need to plan out your work before you start. The more detail the better, but don’t do it to an extent where it is counter-productive and the inspiration and momentum leaves you. Get a clear view, and then start writing. If you are experiencing writer’s block, then you need to go back and plan some more.
Secondly, your learning needs to include developing your writing style. This is all a bit subconscious but you need to work on your writing technique and your prowess with using language.
The easiest way to do this is to hand copy your inspirations and break them down and learn from them. I’ve written about this before for copywriting, but you might also want to do this if you’re writing short stories, or a novel, or anything really. Take good examples, break them down and copy them out.
Use this exercise and you will succeed.
I think I’ve touched upon everything that I need to to improve your writing speed.
It is important to reiterate that the first step towards improving your writing speed is planning on knowing your topic sufficiently. This is going to make the most difference.
The second step is knowing that if you want to improve your writing speed you will need to set high standards.
The guy that tells you that a good writer only works very slowly and can only write a thousand words a day is an idiot.
You can write a thousand words in an hour. That’s if you’re not very good at typing. I recommend setting your sights a lot higher. 2000 to 3000 words an hour is more like it.
Then, you work out the hours of the day you can realistically write for. Even if you only work for an hour or two, you’re still writing 3 to 6000 words a day. That is enough to write a novel in a week. It is enough to write the material for a whole website in a week. And it’s a great starting point.
Imagine being a full-time writer who can write consistently at the rate we’re talking about above. Imagine if they work for 4-5 hours a day. That’s not even full-time, but the word counts that they would come towards word make the average writer cry. They are attainable.
The last thing you need to do is work on the technical typing skills. If you are, like my Dad, somebody who can only type with a couple of fingers, then this is probably something the you’re going to need to work on.
However, for most of us, it’s the least pressing issue as regards typing speed. Still, practice by writing more.
You can use typing games, but don’t make them the main source of your practice. Instead, set your plans and achieve them using a stopwatch. This will get you to where you want to be very quickly if you are consistent and you put in the hard work to achieve what you want.
P.S. I wrote a whole article about how to use stopwatches as a writer and business person. You might want to read it. It’s here.