How To Write Quickly And Easily In Five Simple Steps
It’s 5pm on the 21st December 2017. I’ve decided I want to take the next week off for Christmas. Instead of writing just one article for this website, I’m going to write and schedule six this evening.
Am I daunted by this challenge?
That’s because I can write articles easily. I can also write books easily and quickly. Or sales pages. Or any of the other things I talk about on this site.
You can too, if you follow a few simple steps.
Luckily, I’ll give you those steps right now.
Have a Reasonable Level Of Spelling And Grammar – But Don’t Think About It
This is the trickiest of the five steps.
(Time Out: If you’re enjoying this article, then you should probably sign up to my mailing list, where I give out ideas and business tricks that I don’t share publicly. Click here, fill out your details and get yourself on the list! You won’t leave this page.
Now Back To The Regular Programming Schedule…)
You don’t have to have perfect grammar or spelling to write professionally. You do need a simple level of ability that means you aren’t thinking about what you write at the word level.
For instance, I’m not thinking about the exact wording of these sentences as I type. I’m thinking slightly about this section of the article but more so about the shape of the full article.
Generally, the further from the word level you get the easier writing a lot of words will be.
Think about learning to draw: when you first learn to draw, you’re concentrating on the individual strokes of the pencil. This takes forever. Somebody who has been drawing a long time doesn’t think about the strokes of the pencil. They think about the overall shape of the picture.
This means that the art comes together both better and also quickly.
Many writers never get beyond this. You’ll hear them saying things like, “I spent an afternoon trying to get the wording just right for this paragraph!”
This serves nobody. It will take somebody thirty seconds or so to read a paragraph, providing it’s functional. Make it functional and it will be successful. Your writing “style,” which many take to mean the words you use, develops naturally over time.
In short, you want to make sure you have a functional level of grammar that’s appropriate to the medium, and then you need to concentrate on other stuff.
Understand The Medium
Undoubtedly, there’ll be some people who read the above paragraph and think, “Yeah, but Jamie, your grammar isn’t perfect and you have all the style of some nerd trying to pretend to have a conversation with a girl for the first time.”
That might be true… but you’re reading a blog.
All bloggers are anti-social nerds who’ve yet to speak to a girl for the first time, so I fit in.
The big thing that people get wrong aside from spending entirely too much time thinking about the words they use is to write the wrong stuff for the wrong people.
This refers to content and also to the style.
If you write a romance book without a happy ending, then you’ve made a mistake in terms of content.
If you decide to light the world on fire with a crime book where you describe all the scenes as fluffy pink clouds and use a protagonist that’s light-hearted and thinks crime is terribly funny, then you’ve made a mistake in the setting.
And if you write an op-ed piece about gender dynamics in Afghanistan but due to personal political beliefs, you refuse to use gendered pronouns, then you’ve made a huge stylistic error.
Understand who the audience are, the language they’re expecting and the style you need to write in.
This sounds tough, but in reality genre norms make everything quicker and easier. Remember, you’re focusing on the shape of a piece, and every genre has the same piece… which brings me on to the next point.
Use A Swipe File And Templates
You should be working to a set of templates.
Whenever I mention templates on forums and stuff, people go mental.
“But that’s not original!”
Or the even more stupid;
“But that’s plagiarism!”
No it isn’t.
All the work I create is 100% unique. I don’t spin, rewrite or re-use material. (Even though it’s my legal right to do exactly that – but there’s a topic we’ve discussed before.)
Swipe files are examples you use as inspiration. I take that one step further and strip out the specific information so that I can use those as templates.
Then I put them all together in the structure I want, and write an original using that template.
This is smart and it helps you work quicker. It works for every genre, every medium and everything else.
If you are not doing this, then you are not writing as quickly as possible.
Let’s take, for instance, a How-To book. They follow a simple structure in almost all cases. It’s a 4 act structure. The first 25% is mostly fluff: Here’s what you learn and why. The second part is always the meta-picture of the instruction. The third quarter is the nuts and bolts and the fourth quarter is the application.
Assume that the above takes place over twenty chapters, and you have five chapters for each.
If you read the above, you’ll never have a problem structuring a how-to book again. If you’re ever tasked with writing a how-to book as a project, you can fill in the blanks for the content page I’ve given you and be writing within an hour or two.
That’s how to write quickly.
Too many people spend far too long worrying about how stuff looks on a page… before they’ve written anything.
This is, needless to say, idiotic.
You shouldn’t worry about the design of your books, ebooks or videos.
Because at the very worst, you can hire someone to create a formatted blank copy for you on Fiverr. At the best, you can learn to do it yourself in a few hours.
Then you use the same template over and over again forever. (Or until you improve it.)
I have a Word Document that has all the correct margins for a print book. It’s the same as it has been since sometime in 2015. I don’t worry about it because it never fails. The margins are all the same as they have been for every book.
This one single document saves me worries that will keep people from publishing stuff for years.
Just like everything else that’s administrative, you need to keep it out of your mind as you’re writing. The way to do this is to create a template file (or process) and make it as automated as possible.
You can do this for most writing stuff: Book covers, print margins, landing pages – these are not things that should affect your writing speed.
The major point about writing quickly isn’t even a physical one. I haven’t talked about typing speed. Nor have I talked about using a dictation machine or hiring an editor. Those things are all window-dressing in my opinion.
The biggest, most important factor when writing quickly is that you have to be willing to hit PUBLISH.
Whether you’re writing books, blog posts or sales letters, the biggest thing that halts people’s writing success is that they never get around to finishing the thing.
This is twofold:
- They’re perfectionists
- They want to live in cloud cuckoo land where their writing is unchecked and unquestioned in its brilliance
Nobody wants to be criticised. If you never publish, then nobody will tell you your writing is terrible.
Also, people think writing has to be a long, difficult process drawn out by revisions until the words are perfect.
That’s never going to happen.
If you write quickly, then you hit publish quickly. Then, you’re onto the next thing.
If you write 50,000 words one week but then take a year before publishing your work, then you’ve wasted a year. You might as well have written 1,000 words a week.
You’ve also spent a year worrying about that publish button.
Whereas, if you write 50,000 words one week, hit publish and then do the same thing for the next year, you’ll have two and a half million words out there and working for you by the time the next year rolls around.
You won’t even remember those first 50,000 words – let alone be worried about criticism of them.
You’ll also be better off for it; financially and otherwise. Most people never put that many words out there or otherwise get that much practice.
Write quickly, publish quickly, learn quickly.