Just imagine being able to write faster.
Wouldn’t that make a huge difference?
I’m not talking about becoming a writing automaton who spits out 5000 words a day.
Because speed isn’t everything; it has to be balanced with quality. If you write 5000 words a day but most of what you write is rubbish, then it’s not worth cranking up your speed.
Improving your writing speed by 40% or more would substantially increase your productivity—if your quality were to stay the same or even improve.
I’ve always regarded myself as a slow writer. But just recently, I had an epiphany about writing faster with Scrivener.
My timeframe was tight and I wanted to write a memorable post. So I had to develop a system that would allow me to write well and fast.
How to Write Faster
The system I developed allowed me to improve my speed of writing by 45%.
I call it the Brainwave System because it supports the creative activity of the brain.
The first piece I wrote with this system turned out to be one of my best posts: How to Write Better: 3 Secrets of Transmitting Naked Emotions.
Commenters said things like ‘Great by all standards,’ ‘Wow, what a fantastic post!’, ‘Brilliant article, Mary,’ ‘One of the best articles on writing that I’ve read,’ and so on.
I’m not saying this to brag. I just want to point out that the danger of writing fast is that your piece may be feeble. But the method I used, actually improves your writing.
I once got a guest post from a very well-known blogger whose claim to fame was that he had created a system of speedy writing. But the post was so poor, I had to ask for a rewrite.
Okay, I’ve made my point: we need to be able to write fast and well.
But what slows down the process of writing, and how to speed it up?
Let’s take a medical approach. I’ll investigate symptoms, find the causes—and prescribe the cure.
Slow Writitis, anyone?
Imagine for a moment that you go to a ‘writing doctor’ to find a cure for slow writing.
You enter the surgery.
The doctor holds a stethoscope to your page and shakes her head, saying, “Yes, I can see that you’ve got a bad case of Slow Writitis. What are your symptoms?”
I reckon that you’d come up with one of these three symptoms:
- Can’t get started
- Get part-way, then stop
I think these are the most common symptoms. (Or do you have other, more exotic symptoms? If so, please share in the comments!)
What are the causes?
There are four main causes of Slow Writitis:
Let’s take a closer look at these four causes. Check out which ones you tend to suffer from!
A couple of days ago, one of my A-List Blogging Masterclass students asked me to look at a guest post draft.
She’d got stuck halfway through, which turned out to be a recurring problem for her.
When I took a look at her draft, I saw a great intro, followed by a list of ideas all jumbled together. I immediately felt the urge to put the piece aside.
Because of the confusion.
When you have many ideas with no apparent order, the brain feels overwhelmed and creativity diminishes.
In a way, it’s the curse of vivid creativity.
If you spit out a myriad ideas—without being able to put them into some kind of framework—the confusion can derail the creative process.
I’ve suffered from this in the past and it definitely slowed down my writing. A lot!
Do you want to write well?
Oh, that’s bad luck! Because trying to write well is one of the most common causes of slow writing.
If you want to learn how to write faster, you need to embrace crummy first drafts!
When your brain is in the creative mode, you’re using mainly the right hemisphere of your brain. However, the process of editing is a left-brain activity.
If you try to write and edit at the same time, you’re sending opposing signals to your brain and your creativity shuts down.
It’s like driving a car and stepping on the accelerator and the brake at the same time.
Chances are, your car won’t go anywhere!
Do you sometimes write a lot more than you need—and then have to slash and prune? It used to happen to me all the time.
I regularly ended up with a 3,000 word draft for a 1,200 word article. As you can imagine, that’s a waste of time and effort.
Overwriting can be a sign of lack of focus. If your piece is tightly focused right from the start, and you watch the word count for each section, you’re much less likely to overwrite.
I say more about this in the video below.
The fourth cause of slow writing is insidious. It has to do with a hidden mindset.
One of the key causes of slow writing is doubts about your ability.
These doubts are perfectionism’s close companion. And they are fueled by low confidence.
Here is the invisible script that low confidence implants in the mind: “Is this really good enough?”
Do you recognize the thought pattern?
Even if you’re not aware of your doubts, they may be there, hiding beneath your ordinary thoughts.
Of course, when you have doubts about your ability, you hesitate to put anything to paper.
This is how doubts fueled by low confidence act as a break and slow down your speed of writing.
Doubts can actually stop your creative process altogether, and are a common cause for failing to complete pieces.
I’ll say more about doubts—and how to overcome them—in the video below.
How to Write Faster With Scrivener
In the following video, I show the Brainwave System of fast writing. You can adapt this system to any writing software. However, it works best with Scrivener because of its flexibility.
As I write mostly non-fiction, I developed the system for writing blogposts or articles, but it could also be used for larger pieces of non-fiction writing, as well as for writing novels.
Did you find the video helpful?
As you can see, the Brainwave System works with the brain, and not against it. The main thing is that this system creates a lattice on which you can hang your creative ideas.
Of course, there are other ways to assemble a piece of writing. You can create a profusion of ideas and then slowly bring your piece into line—which can take a long time.
Or you can write a piece in a linear fashion, starting at the beginning and ending with the completion, which can lead to dull writing because your creativity may not fire.
If you want to write fast and well, try the Brainwave System and see if it works for you.
I’m keen to know what you think.
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