How to Consistently Write Faster (and More Efficiently)

    how to consistently write faster - sprinter

    How long would it take you to write an 80k word novel? Or a 60k word self-help book? Would it take you a month? A year? Or perhaps longer?

    While you can’t rush perfection, there is something to be said about the speed and efficiency with which you write. As a matter of fact, a lack of speed and efficiency can seriously hold you back.

    Publishers have deadlines. Readers have expectations. You may lose a few fans if they’re eagerly waiting for the next installment in your series but you never get it done (like *cough cough* George R.R. Martin). 

    But the real cost of inefficient writing is about you, not your readers. 

    Your head is full of great ideas. You need to write efficiently so all your worlds, characters, and ideas can make their way onto paper. You don’t want your books to miss out on the great advice or plot twists you’ve thought of, and you certainly don’t want your best work to die inside you without ever getting shared at all. 

    Fortunately, the right strategies can help you be the most productive writer that you can be. So, let’s look at how to consistently write faster…

    1. Find Your Peak Writing Hours 

    Are you a morning person? Or a night owl? Or something in-between?

    This is actually a very important question to ask yourself when it comes to writing. 

    It’s hard to get serious writing done when you’re groggy and unfocused. When you write at a good time for your body and mind, you can get more work done faster. 

    There’s a belief going around that writing between the hours of say 4:00 AM to 7:00 AM is just perfect. You get some peace and quiet in the morning before the day really begins, and that’s when you can really crank out some good prose. But that’s simply not true for everybody. 

    I have team members who don’t even start their writing process until Midnight! Personally, I’d fall asleep on my book stand long before then, but it works just fine for them. Try writing at a few different times of day to see what’s best for you. Discovering the time of day when your mind is sharpest and the words come easiest can make every writing session more productive. 

    2. Set a Word Count Goal

    When you first start working on a new book or writing project, you’re at peak motivation. Your mind is made up and excited about this big undertaking. The word count you’re pumping out each day might seem awesome. 

    Until it doesn’t.

    Sustaining motivation can be tough for writers. A well-written book takes time, and burnout is common. Those 3k-4k word days can quickly devolve into weeks where nothing is accomplished. 

    The best way around this is to set a concrete word count minimum for each writing day and stick to it. Setting daily goals and subsequently achieving them can be just the right amount of structure to keep you going. 

    Many professional authors, including Stephen King, set their daily goal at right around 2,000 words. But for those of us whose full time job isn’t writing, the number will probably need to be smaller. That’s okay. In fact, it isn’t really about words at all. If you’re a food blogger writing a mexican cookbook, you might set a daily recipe goal instead of a word count. Or if you’re writing a short book for 6 year olds, you might not need 2,000 words.   

    The point is to make sure you’re always moving forward. 500 words a day is more than 15,000 words per month. In other words, consistent progress adds up fast. 

    3. Create a Detailed Outline 

    If you’ve watched James Patterson’s MasterClass then you know what his secret weapon to writing is:

    A great outline.

    Spending time on your outline is one of the best ways to write more productively and avoid writer’s block. The better you plot your ideas, the easier it will be for you to actually put them down on paper. 

    You should plan each of your chapters or scenes with sufficient detail. What do you want your readers to learn, to think, to feel? Try putting all of this in your outline. Then, when you go to actually write the scene, you’ll already have in mind the picture you are attempting to paint. 

    Think about your major insights or plot points, and jot those down as well. The goal is to give yourself a map you can follow all the way to the finish — to avoid hitting a wall and getting sidetracked. 

    Basically, the moral of the story is: Be Prepared. If you always know what you need to write, you’ll have an easier time hitting that daily word minimum. 

    How to Consistently Write Faster by Experimenting

    By following these simple techniques, you can learn how to consistently write faster and your efficiency will improve. But that doesn’t mean these are the only things you can do. There are plenty of author softwares that can help you write and create your next book faster. Or maybe you’re a slow typist. One of those “one-finger typists” like RL Stine. Learning to touch type could be worth looking into. 

    Point is… There’s always room to improve. Just examine your process carefully and find out where your weak spots are. And then ask what it would take for you to fix them. You’ll be glad you did.

    Do you have any tips on how to consistently write faster and more efficiently? Put your best one in the comments below.

    About the author

      Dave Chesson

      Dave Chesson teaches authors advanced book marketing tactics at He likes sharing in-depth, actionable guides, such as his recent comparison of the best book writing software. His free time is spent in Tennessee with his wife and children.

    • Thanks this post really motivated me to write my next article.

    • Lianne says:

      I struggle so much in writing but your guidelines are somewhat I really wanted to try. Thanks for sharing.

    • A beautifully clear and informative post. Thank you!

      I just started a job as a technical writer that pays by the word. Hopefully with this guide I can make a livable income from it.

    • tritan says:

      thanks for sharing !

    • Hi, I am a slow writer I have started writing a few years ago but my writing speed didn’t increase as much as I want it, and you said right it sucks a lot but your article is awesome you tell such good tips, I hope it will help me a lot. Thanks for helping us.

      • Absolutely and hope it helps. Time is of the essence for us writers.

    • I am a travel blogger and this is very tough for me to manage time for writing blogs. but I will try to use your guidelines. thank you

      • I know what you mean – I travel a lot too. Next week I’ll be traveling to Sri Lanka and to Austin, and then to Columbus.

    • Bobby says:

      I think that the setting itself (place, seating, your keyboard or writing desk) are extremely important for keeping strong mental attitude. As Abraham Maslow (the Pyramid of Needs Man) had proven, during his work with many geniuses, the best creativity comes to us in the moments of Flow. This can be self-induced to some extend, but is seriously depending on circumstances, including your work place for writing.

      • Agreed. I also go as far to use certain lighting to help me. It’s been proven that certain kelvins and colors affect motivation and creativity. So, I actually have settings to help – I have a YouTube video all on the light settings and hope I set it up.

    • Very interesting – I never thought about speeding up as a means to improving… ok, that will be my push to start doing that now!

    • Laszlo A. Voros says:

      I know that every writer has to have a telephone sized book of rejections before he gets accepted. Warren Adler who wrote The War of the Roses, said you have to develop a thick skin. Twenty people will have 20 different ideas on what they liked and hated. And I know Stephen King had Carrie rejected 30 times. I just received a critique that said it was well paced and it moved along flawlessly. But certain parts needed to be fleshed out more. They didn’t accept it for publication. No matter what, and I have stopped brooding for hours “Why didn’t they liked this one?
      What was wrong with? rejection still hurts.

      • I know what you mean. When I was working with Ted Dekker, he told me the story of his first book. How he thought it was perfect. Until he had an agent (a friend) sit down and explain why it wasn’t. I think he went three different books before he finally made one that worked. Each time he got better and faster, and now, it’s sort of an art and formula.

    • Laszlo A. Voros says:

      I started writing at night because when my sister and brother convinced me to let my Father (God rest his soul) us the side of my computer, he’d always interrupt me or want to use the side of the computer and he’d say I’ll give you 3 hours. then he pop in and find me thinking, and he’d say “Well write something!!!”
      So at night I get my best ideas. I also have a skull on my desk with a black hood, who is Skulliver my Dark Half, who gives me ideas. I’ll say to him (which I had for 45 years)”Talk to me, Talk to me Skully.” And I get some deliciously twisted ideas.

      • Haha…I have a storm trooper on mine that was supposed to be holding his rifle with two hands. But when you remove the rifle, it looks like he’s pointing at you with a look of “You should be writing.” He’s my homey trooper.

    • Barb Johnson says:

      What a terrific article. I learned what is missing from my writing work. Outlining! My way all these many years has just been to sit down and write. I have an article idea. That’s it. I’ve rejected outlining as not necessary and not worth my time. My eyes are opened. Outlining it is!

      • It’s like a road map to our art. Fleshing the road map is the best part – but at least we know we have direction.

    • Brian G says:

      Great post, Dave! Improving my writing speed is something I’m working on at the moment so these tips are helpful and timely. I’m finding that to become a faster writer I need to fight my tendency toward perfectionism. “Don’t let perfect become the enemy of good” has become my work mantra.

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