10 Tips to Double Your Writing Speed (Without Losing Quality)

    double your writing speed

    Do you want to double your writing speed– without losing quality?

    As a writer and blogger, I need to write a lot of articles. Fast. Not only do I need a flow of good ideas, I also need time to turn the initial ideas into useful blog posts. It’s sometimes a struggle.

    Here are 10 tips that can help you double your writing speed:


    Step 1: Maintain a swipe file of good posts

    Whenever you see an attractive post, add it to a swipe file. You can create a swipe file in Word, or in any other writing program.

    The post you save may be about something that’s completely outside of your blog topic, but it may contain elements that you can use for a blog post – and it will trigger new post ideas.

    Step 2: Create an ‘ideas file’

    I carry a notebook around with me at all times in order to capture ideas. Good ideas are fleeting and don’t hang around. Once you’ve got them down on paper, or have made a digital note, the brain will start to chew on the idea. It’s best if you add a few key thoughts to your initial idea straight away. I’ve found cryptic notes long after I had the initial idea, such as “Write Like Spaghetti”. Er – what?? If I had just added one sentence, it might have made sense.

    Step 3:  Don’t sit down and start writing

    Don’t write now! If you do that, writing will feel like a grind. Worst case, you’ll sit there, nibble at your nails, feel blocked and frustrated – and absolutely nada, nichts,  nothing will happen. Or you’ll start to write something that hares off in the wrong direction. So, don’t write now. What you need to do now, is to put your subconscious to work.

    Step 4: Put your subconscious to work

    In order to prime the pump of your creativity, get out your ‘ideas file’, as well as your ‘swipe file’ of posts. Look through your ‘ideas file’ and see what leaps out at you. Then idly browse through your swipe file. You’ll find that ideas start to appear. Write down a couple of sentences, or a headline of what you want to write about. This step should not take more than 15 minutes. When you have written a few sentence or a headline, stop and do something else. Put your task away.

    Step 5: Let your mind ferment

    Once you’ve completed step 4, you need to let your mind ferment.The mind has a natural desire to solve problems and come up with idea. There are some things you can do in order to get your brain to become creative. The mind responds well to a brisk walk or a run. Sleep is also helpful. Just don’t sit around and try to think about your article!

    Step 6: Start writing

    When you pick up your piece again, you’ll be ready to write. But don’t start at the beginning. Start anywhere else! Because the introduction to a piece needs special attention and has to be well crafted. It’s much easier to put together an introduction, once you’ve written the heart of the article.

    Step 7: What to do if your writing is lousy

    At this stage in your creative process, ‘bad’ writing is good! Just put anything that occurs to you on to the page –  the badder, the better 🙂 What’s helpful now is to write to a certain word count. Let’s say that you’ve determined ahead of time that your article is going to be 500, or 700, or 1200 words long. Your task in step 7 is to fill the quota you’ve set yourself.

    It doesn’t matter whether your writing is lousy or luminous.

    Just write the requisite words, without going back and correcting anything. This ensures that you activate  the right hemisphere of your brain . It’s the one that supports creativity. If you start analyzing and correcting, you’ll activate the left side and your creativity and spontaneity will dry up in a flash.

    Once you’ve arrived at the requisite  word count,  stop doing anything more to the piece. Do something else instead.

    Step 8: Switch on the Editor

    Give yourself a good night’s sleep before tackling your post again. Or, if you need to crank the piece out in one day, make sure you take a break before you start Step 8. In this step you’re going to forget about being a writer;  you’re going to look at what you wrote with  the eyes of an editor.

    • Check out the structure: do you have an introduction, a main development, and a closure?
    • Check the flow of the piece. Do you lead from one piece of information to the next, or do you jump around – and leave your readers behind?
    • Check out each sentence. Is grammar and spelling correct? Are some words redundant? Could you express yourself more succinctly? Could you simplify?

    Step 9: Read the piece aloud.

    When we read out aloud, we can discover the bumpy bits, and the places where the piece refuses to flow. If you have someone you trust, read the piece aloud to them. It will sharpen your own perception of what you’ve written. But don’t worry – you can also read to yourself.

    Step 10: The final check

    In order to fine-tune your piece, you’ll need to do a final check. There are two ways that work really well. If you’ve written a blog post, publish a draft and then read it as if you were someone who had just arrived at your blog. Another way to get a clear impression of your work, is to paste the piece into the body of an email and send it to yourself.  Spelling mistakes will jump out at you when you see your article in an  unfamiliar format.

    These ten steps will insure that you can write easily and fluidly. Breaking up the writing process into three distinct parts is a great way to create top-quality articles.

    What are YOUR tips to double your writing speed?


    About the author

      Mary Jaksch

      Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com. Grab her latest all new course Blogwriter's Bootcamp 2.0 or a copy of her free report, How to Create an Irresistible Lead Magnet in Less Than 5 Hours. In her “spare” time, Mary’s also the brains behind AlistBlogging.net. and GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

    • Tony says:

      I really enjoyed this post. I usually don’t have too much of a problem coming up with topics to write about but this just added to my library of tips. I use google alerts alot as well for ideas on what to write about.

      Thanks…great post.


    • Mary, I love this article. I have printed it and put it on my wall. Thanks for the great advice.

    • Great description of the writing process. I follow something similar using files for, 1. Ideas, 2. One Liners, 3. Plots, 4. Outlines, and 5. Synopses. After the synopsis stage, I create a first draft and an article is started.

      When I have no idea what to write, I’ll follow them in numerical order. Ideas become one line article ideas and so on. When I use that process a lot, I can have dozen of articles at the first draft stage.

      When I have a lot of first drafts, I’ll write the second drafts and save the final draft revison for the day I post them. If all of the draft articles are done, I’ll sometimes work backwards, turning synopses into first drafts, then outlines into synopses, etc.

      It’s a great process. Whatever mood you’re in, there’s something that can be done. Feeling creative? The first 5 are the thing to go for. Can’t seem to write well? It’s first draft time. In the groove and can’t stop writing? Second drafts it is.

      Thanks for the article.

      • Great list of really good ideas. I rarely find myself writing an article, but more often just a list of happenings, or a short story about our farm life. I’d like to expand my little stories a little and think that these tips are just the help I needed. Thanks!

    • L.C. Evans says:

      Very useful article, Mary. I have a habit of jotting things on odd pieces of paper, but now I’m going to insist to myself that I start carrying a notebook. I also have a file in my computer where I post phrases that either give me post ideas or become titles for my posts.

    • Steven says:

      Thanks for the insightful post! I ran across the link on Twitter and stopped by to check it out. I’m always trying to find new ways of doing things and will definitely give your tips a try.

      Thanks again!

    • Wow, Mary, you offered as much useful information in 10 minutes of reading (I read slowly and deliberately) as I once got from a six week course!

      I use many of those techniques. Points 5, 6 & 7 offer a more sensible approach to that than I use now. I’m going to try your way, and I’m betting it will help.

      I do find however that my best work requires no thought at all; I am wrenched from sleep between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning, stumble to the notebook computer in the dining room, place my hands over the keyboard and pure thought energy flows from my cranium through my fingers to the computer and appears on the screen as words. Sometimes the result requires some polishing, but ususlly not much.

      It’s kinda spooky! 🙂

      Thanks for another informative post!

    • Funny, I just tweeted about how long it takes to write a post!

      I have a similar process. If I feel inspired, but don’t have time to write, I put a pseudo title and a few sentences about what I want to write in my draft file. If I am out and about w/o my computer, I jot down a note on a piece of paper, or write my complete post on paper (depending on time and motivation). Later, I transfer it to the computer. On more than one occasion, I have been picked on by friends for “writing my blog post on paper.”

      Unfortunately, this process doesn’t seem to save me much time. It does, however, make sure that my post comes out without errors. It also gives me the time to make sure I am getting the point across that I want.

      • Hi Sarah – it’s great that you’ve found what works for you. I think this is the main point: that we each have to find what makes writing enjoyable and sustainable.

    • Purplume says:

      I say find out what you are passionate about and then enjoy those passions and you will have lots to write about. I see it as we owe it to our writing to live a great life. XD

      • Yes, I agree – a key factor of writing interesting stuff is living an interesting life.

    • Wow! Great advice! I love the part about separating the left and right brain process. That helped me so much! I’ve always mixed the creative process with the editing. I was so pleased to accomplish twice as much with ease by simply separating the two processes. Thanks!

      • Oh good! I’m glad my post has helped you with your creative process, Heidi.

    • Re blogging course assignment 2, I have found the it useful to have to think up 20 TOPIC TITLES IN ADVANCE. From there it would be a fairly short step to give each one three bullet points underneath, for your main body. Then you just have to top and tail them and your are done (sort of). Thanks for all your ideas, encouragement and light-hearted approach, Mary.


      • hi Jenny – yes, that’s how I use the WordPress Editorial Calendar plugin. There’s something very calming about having a few post outlines ready for development. I’m glad you’re putting what you’re learning in the A-List Blogging Bootcamp into practice – well done!

    • Hi Mary

      Talk about landing on your blog just in time.

      Developing my writing skills are high on my agenda and this list of useful tips will assist me with just how I will go about composing my posts.

      Step 3: Don’t sit down and start writing is so true. My brain seems to be way more creative when I am moving about.

      Thank you

      • Hey Dwayne, the great thing is writing is a skill – and we can hone it. I was recently talking with Chris Garrett of http://www.chrisg.com/ He said that he’s never had a good education and isn’t a natural writer. But, he went on to say, it doesn’t matter. As long as you have something to say that’s of benefit to your readers, your blog can grow.

    • The going away and coming back is great advice. Also, write when the words come. I will grab a scrap of paper and just start writing where ever, if that’s when the words are coming.

      • Ah – I’m hopeless with little bits of paper… They just lose themselves. That’s why I carry a notebook. And, I must admit – I like using a really NICE notebook.

    • Awesome! Thanks Mary. I have a new blog, so right now while the motivation is high it’s easy to love every minute (no matter how many) are spent on blogging, but this was a great post for me to understand how to start keeping the writing time succinct so I don’t miss out on all the other inspiring aspects of life! Thanks!

      I also followed you and Leo on your free module of the A-List bloggers club-great work, I look forward to reading more of your tips and learning from you in the future!


      • Hey I”m glad you enjoyed the free Bootcamp week, Emma! As to motivation: I’m still wildly excited about blogging – even though I’ve now been blogging for 3 years 🙂

    • Sandra Lee says:

      Hi Mary,

      This explains why I like to write in three go’s. Thanks so much!

      I always have trouble with step #7 – writing freely without switching on the editor. Now that I understand why, I’m really going to try working with this.

      Thanks for not only these terrific ideas but the logic behind them.

      • Logic? Yes, I like to know how and why our mind functions in particular ways.

    • Hi Mary,
      This is excellent advice. I didn’t know about left and right brain editing. Also I quit using my ADHD as an excuse for spelling errors. Now I read it out loud and so does hubs:0)I’ve done so much better. Hey I may even look professional!

      • I haven’t yet got hubs to read my stuff aloud. What did you bribe him with??

    • Cristina says:

      Thank you for the great tips Mary! Tip no. 8 is the one I’ve never put into practice, but I can see the value in taking a break from your writing, especially because when I re-read something that I thought was just crap after some time – even weeks – I usually find at least a few interesting nuggets that often evolve in good posts. I’ll definitely try your tip from now on!

      • Yes, Christina, it’s really important to take that break. It gives us time to take an overview and not be caught in details.

    • What an awesome step-by-step formula for getting that blog post done! We all have different techniques but I also use the idea book. I carry a little black book (no joke!) around with me at all times for jotting down different ideas that come to me out of nowhere. Some of the best ideas come when we aren’t TRYING to write!!

      • Yes, Martha – my ideas appear in strange moments too, and not when I’m sitting in front of my laptop, ready to write…

    • One important thing to remember about that swipe file is remembering who you swiped from, lest you end up claiming someone else’s ideas as your own.

      Good technique, sort of the opposite of freewriting, but another tool to put in the toolbox.

      • Oh, good point, Terry. I sometimes to forget it and then have to hunt up and down the Internet…

    • Barbara says:

      Great ideas Mary. Thanks for the post. Having a swipe file has helped me many times. I’ve also started using a tool to keep track of posts/pages for future ideas. They tend to get lost in my Delicious bookmarks.

      Not affiliated with this tool, I’m just really liking it so far. Maybe it’ll help others… http://budget.rustybrick.com/

      • Thanks for the tip, Barbara
        I had a look at the rustybrick program and it looks interesting.

    • Eugene Bell says:

      These are all great points Mary, I’ve always found #9 especially useful! Thanks!!

      • Reading aloud? Yes, I agree. It’s quite strange how many bumpy bits emerge when you read a piece out loud.

    • Grreat tips! I use Eveernote for my notebook. That way, wherever I am, I can access my blog ideas. I keep things like quotes, random thoughts and even, as you said, parts of blog posts that inspired me. I do the same when I’m thinking of new novel seas. Thanks for the great post. I’m going to keep this one. 🙂

      • Evernote sounds good – especially if you access it on the run. Talking of which, I turned into a runner. So I need a very light notebook to take with me up into the hills. I’m definitely not going to shlepp my laptop uphill 🙂

        • James M says:

          Evernote is a godsend for people looking to organize thoughts and bookmark blog posts to write about later. It has a web clipper to use with Chrome and Safari which will copy the entire web page for you to view offline. This allows you to disconnect from the web to do your writing and stay focused. It’s incredibly useful in another way to: you can link in your notes to a GTD organizer like Nozbe if you work better that way.

    • Liked your added comment about being a “recovering perfectionist.” There is definitely a learning curve for delivering quality posts. Thanks for all the tips.

      • I don’t worry too much about mistakes, these days. There’s always a kind reader who will let me know about any glaring error. At times I get the kind of uppity email writer who castigates me for my lack of perfection …

        I always thank them politely 🙂

    • Pete Linfield says:

      Reading your blog today reminds me of a saying that I heard years ago attributed to Confusious.

      “The palest ink is better then the most retentive memory.”

      • That’s a nice find, Pete. I’m always amazed at how new ideas go away and hide if we don’t record them. They seem to go all huffy…

    • Thanks Mary for the great ideas.

      Being a new member of A-List Blogging Bootcamps has created a whirlwind of ideas for posts and new blogs. I haven’t included Headlines but collecting these is a wonderful bit of advice.

      I’m a list type of guy which is good and bad. Have you ever heard of people who have lists for lists? That’s me!

      So, I am now using Evernote on my PC, laptop, and my iPhone. What a great invention. I may have to create a list of Mary ideas. 😉

    • You’re talking about maintaining a swipe file & an ideas files, but I think that’s not enough for maximum creativity.

      It helps me a lot to have at least a dozen Headlines, a couple of ideas for posts without clear headline,
      AND 5-6 unfinished posts waiting, when I wake up in the morning and sit down to write.

      But adding swipe files into the mix seems like a great idea, am just about to set it up.

      • That’s really good advice, Swen. Yes, somehow it’s easier to be creative when the cupboards are full.

    • Patti Foy says:

      Hi Mary,

      These are GREAT and exactly what I asked for when you & Leo solicited suggestions for this current bootcamp on writing great content (which is excellent and so much fun, besides!)

      I’m still way too slow but getting better. Here are 3 things I could add:

      – People say we will get faster as we practice and I find that is true, I am automatically getting faster. Not much yet, but going the right direction. So, that’s encouraging!

      – I use a little digital recorder to make notes to myself. I rarely go anywhere without it. I like this much better than trying to use a notebook. It’s quicker and I can be less cryptic.

      – I’m getting better at noticing when I am adding too many details or ideas as I write. (Collecting ideas is NOT my problem!) If I am, usually that extra can make for its own post, so I pull it out and save it off in my drafts. That actually feels good — I’m ahead of the game on my next post and it’s a relief to let go of it for now.

      Thanks so much and to the other commenters for good suggestions.

      • Thanks for you suggestions, Patti! I especially like the idea of using the extra bits that make the post bulge in order to create a new post!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Mary –

      Funny you should ask — I just did a post on this topic as well. How I write quality blog posts fast — 5 Tips.

      Mine is focused more on organizational skills you need for mass quality blog production than on beating writer’s block, though. From my 12 years as a staff writer I’m pretty much cured of that…but your tips are great.

      One I’d add, from a Reynolds Center seminar I attended years ago: If you’re doing a complex story with interviews, research and many sources… put all your notes aside. Then:

      Write without notes
      Write without quotes
      Write without attribution

      Stop worrying about exactly who said exactly what, and let the most important points simply rise to the front of your mind. Just let the gist of the story flow out. When you’ve done your draft, go back through your notes and make sure quotes and statistics are exactly correct and attributed properly.

      If you’re having trouble organizing it, call a friend and discuss the story — you’ll naturally mention the most important points first and it’ll out line the story for you.

    • This tips doesn’t sound like the easy way. Really.

      • Each step is quite short. And the whole strategy puts your creativity into overdrive

    • Shannon says:

      A post swipe file, Genius! I just started one now, thank you. Extra tip, I add the post link location to the top of the file so I can link out and credit the original writer.

    • Like the idea of a swipe file. I often see a post with a theme I want to expand on, and simply bookmark it. Unfortunately my bookmarks aren’t that well organized that I can easily find the relevant posts when I need them. A swipe file would work better!

      • It’s amazing how we can use a post that’s about something completely different – and be inspire.

    • Ali Luke says:

      Great tips, Mary – and ones which definitely help me write fast.

      I particularly like your emphasis on separating the idea-stage from the drafting from the editing – it’s so much harder to write when you just sit and stare at a blank page. (I coach writers, and this seems to be a problem which crops up a lot. Like you, I recommend diving straight int the middle rather than trying to begin with the introduction.)

      Three tips I’d add:

      – Write an outline. If you’re writing a blog post, for instance, jot down a few key points (these might become subheadings in the finished piece). It’s easier to keep going when you can already see what lies ahead!

      – Learn to touch type. If you’re looking down at the keyboard trying to find each letter, your typing may well be holding back your writing speed.

      – Use a timer. I definitely find that I stay on task much more easily, and write more quickly, when I’ve got a timer ticking away.

    • Cara Stein says:

      Keeping an idea file is definitely crucial. I like the idea of a swipe file, too–I always think I’ll remember these inspirational posts, but I don’t, or if I do, I forget where I found them.

      Thanks for pointing out the fermentation stage, too! Sometimes my writing just flows and all I have to do is try to type fast enough to keep up, but the rest of the time, stepping away from the keyboard to cook or wash the car is what it takes.

      • Yes, it’s amazing what the mind does – if we get out of the way.

    • Mary, I have a very similar process for writing blog posts and also for my freelance writing business.

      The most important thing for me is to have a quality draft of a blog post finished the day before it goes live. On the morning of publication I read it through one more time for final editing; this also includes tweaking the headline.

    • Owen says:

      As Candice said, I keep a list of ideas and or topics I can use at any time. Another thing I do is have a plan, to know what my goal is and what I want the outcome to be before writing anything significant.

      • Hi Owen, for me, the goal is always to be the same: to be insanely useful…

    • Raul Sim says:

      It’s a little harder for me. Fortunately, I am a perfectionist. Even if my writing process takes a lot of time, I know that, in the end, it’s a good writing (although I’m never fully satisfied).

      However, I think that following these steps may lower the time I spend writing, so I may write more, or have more time to perfect my copy.

      • Hi Raul, I’m a ‘recovering perfectionist’. What I’ve learned as a blogger is that a post has to be ‘good enough’. Not every post needs to be brilliant 😀

        • Raul Sim says:

          Trust me, I just can’t publish an article that I think is too short, or not having enough details, and so on. Anyway, I see this as a good thing. 🙂

          • Krista says:

            I agree with Mary, blogwriting differs from other writing. You do not need to be as perfect, it is more important to be concise, interesting and fast (catching a relevant topic of the time).

      • Webby says:

        If you’re such a perfectionist, I’d start cutting out the number of extraneous commas in your writing. It’s very clunky at the moment. Just an idea…

        • Raul Sim says:

          That’s a good observation. However, I don’t think that many commas are a bad thing. You know, I think this is part of my personal style of writing.

    • Candice says:

      I keep a running list of ideas in my cellphone notepad, and at least a dozen posts started in my blog’s draft file. The subjects aren’t time sensitive or seasonal, so I can always fall back on one of them when I’m stuck.

      Your steps are great. One of my favorites is to read the work aloud. This tends to either annoy or entertain my kids, and I once worked on a short-short story for so long, they had it memorized. It’s incredibly effective!

      • Thanks Candice, I’m using a new plugin, called WordPress Editorial Calendar. I’m finding that really good for quickly developing a post idea.

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