4 Unusual Tips to Make Your Writing Go Faster

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I’m a firm believer that writing should take the time it takes and shouldn’t be forced. After all, sometimes life happens. We all have times when we feel like crap or are overwhelmed. In those times, it’s difficult to focus in a way that makes the result feel natural and pleasant to the reader.

But deadlines in life also happen, and there’s something to be said for balancing exceptional quality and high output. To make the most of your time and create even more content that could earn you fans or income, try these tips:

1. Verbalize.

Take a few minutes before you start writing to talk through what you want to say. You can use voice dictation software to take notes for you as you go. The process of talking through your idea for a second will help you mentally solidify your key points. Highlight those in your software recording or whip out a bulleted outline. Knowing what your key points are will ensure you don’t get into the weeds when you write, and that you have a logical, organized flow through the work.

2. Turn off editing options.

Tools like Grammarly or Word’s spell and grammar check can be pretty powerful, and they’re available at a crazy level. But if you use them during the actual drafting, the appearance of all those suggestions and red underlines can interrupt your flow, interfere with your natural voice, stress you out, and slow you down. There’s also no point in cleaning the draft until you’ve gone through and made sure that you actually want to keep everything that’s there. Turn your tools on at the end of the writing instead.

3. Skip the details.

Yes, you might be writing something super technical or that needs depth. But try to start with just the main concepts or steps for the bulk of the piece with the assumption that people 1) don’t have a ton of time, and 2) might not be at your level of expertise. There are probably always some points you could include, but the ones you must include probably are fewer than you initially think. Once you have the musts, then go back and consider what details actually would improve the value of what you have. Editors absolutely will tell you if something is missing, confusing, or needs to be fleshed out, and they’re experts at deciding which points out of them all are most important to expand.

4. Imagine it’s a journal.

Writers often get concerned with how others are going to judge them for what they’ve written and let that color what goes onto the page. They lose an enormous amount of time wondering what is right or acceptable.

To combat this, think of whatever you are writing more like a journal that nobody would see. Everything is safe and private. Forget that you’re going to hit publish or submit the piece, and just hone in on whether the work reflects you and is what you intended it to be. Then go back and think about how to improve areas like relatability, connotation or the number of people in your audience (e.g., gender pronouns). Writing groups, online services, beta readers,  friends and family members all can offer feedback to make sure that you’ve considered different points of view or realities. Once you have a draft to use as a template or core, you always can modify it deliberately to fit any publication you like.

Quality always should be at the front of your mind when you’re writing. Nevertheless, there’s no reason to settle for poor efficiency. Use these tips to trim some of the fat and start getting more headlines or titles to your readers.

12 Things Great Writers Never Do

 

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Writers are similar to any other professional in that they want to do their absolute best in their craft and have best practices (e.g., ALWAYS back up your files, get feedback on drafts). The most successful ones typically don’t do the following:

1. Copy others. 

Truly great writers are less concerned with trends and marketability than they are being true to their own voice and their story. Although they read a ton, analyze what others do to learn, and can have high respect for others in the industry, the process is more about self-discovery. They don’t strive to be “like” any other writer.

2. Forget the technicals.

Writers who do well work hard to get the technical aspects of writing like grammar and punctuation right, whether that’s on their own or with the help of an editor. They understand that these points are more than aesthetic–they influence the flow of the writing and how well readers connect to and understand it.

3. Write based on quotas.

Successful writers absolutely set aside time to write seriously and have targets to aim for. But they are less concerned with quantity than quality. If their brain is mush one day and not much comes out, they don’t sweat it, because they know that there will be other more productive days that make up for the “loss”. They give themselves time in their scheduling to account for days that aren’t as creative so that they don’t stress out.

4. Put up with crappy tools.

Even if it’s just a mechanical pencil that has lead that keeps breaking, great writers ditch crappy tools fast. They look for efficient, reliable options that improve output. They don’t tolerate tools that are frustrating or that make collaboration, editing or publishing challenging. They’re willing to invest if it means that they get something that actually works within their personalized setup.

5. Self-censure.

This is a tough one these days because of “cancel culture”. But writers worth their salt speak their minds, even if their opinions aren’t popular. They just do it in respectful ways, cite sources and are clear about their rationales, rather than just making blanket statements or assertions. They are willing to put the reality of the world onto the page, even when others don’t like how it looks.

6. Lean too much on tech.

Technology allows writers to create and share drafts more easily than ever. It also can make self-editing easier. But writers who stand out don’t let technology dictate. They are willing to throw out suggestions from editing software, for instance, or to go back to old-school techniques like reading drafts aloud to get a sense of flow and cadence. They worry about the message first and platform second.

7. Put all their eggs in one basket.

The best writers have projects. Plural. They understand that, even if tons of their material will sell, there often will be a waiting game as editors, agents or publishers review their work. They also grasp that different types of projects will fill different personal needs. They put multiple irons in the fire so they don’t get bored and have better odds of steady income. They are willing to drop pieces that just aren’t working to focus on ones that do, as well.

8. Wait to get organized.

Great writers don’t put off creating systems that ensure they can find and work on the right document when they need to. They use tools like Excel or QueryManager to see at a glance what they have and what the status of their content is. This infrastructure makes it simpler to do more in less time. When needed, good writers also make regular time to “clean house” and get rid of what’s no longer useful, either by archiving or opting for a permanent delete.

9. Ignore other writers.

Those who excel in writing know it’s a tough gig. They are willing to encourage others, even if it’s just through simple Twitter tweets. They will share information about upcoming launches or opportunities, because they care more about the craft than they do about beating out “competitors”. If they have the resources, they also might offer critiques, referrals or other tools. They also don’t put others down because they understand that it’s not worth making enemies in an industry where people talk to each other freely. They work hard to find other writers who can be great mentors and make introductions.

10. Confuse trolling and valid critique.

Some people legitimately will leave bad reviews or comments just because they think it’s fun. But great writers are able to distinguish this behavior from negative feedback that has grains of truth in it. They don’t assume that all bad comments are malicious. Instead, they step back and objectively listen to what others are saying so they can grow and get better. They know when to defend themselves and when to just move on.

11. Do nothing but write.

Those who score big in the writing industry usually get there because they draw on unique insights and experiences. They get out into the world, not just to learn, but to refresh their minds for more creativity. The combination of doing and recuperating usually translates into fantastic drafts that are both relatable and profound.

12. Let others dictate what to do.

You MUST send x queries. You MUST revise X times.

Says who?

Generally, writers who find success march to their own drum. They don’t give up just because someone tells them to, and they don’t take too much stock in the odds. They just trust their writing and keep trying.

Bored as a Writer? This Is Probably Why

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You know the feeling. You stare at your computer screen (or your pad of paper) and just think, “Meh.”

It’s “boredom” in all its ugly glory. But does this feeling really mean you’re not interested in putting words to the page anymore? Should you stop prioritizing your writing because of it and move on to something else?

The usefulness of boredom–and the trouble with writing

Boredom is a useful emotion that signals us that, for whatever reason, the task we’re doing isn’t worth our time. Put another way, it’s about perception and reward. Applied to writing, if we don’t feel like the writing is going to yield anything good, if we can’t see that there’s an achievable benefit, then we can feel like the job is ho-hum and lose motivation.

The issue is that, unlike some other jobs, reaching goals like finding an agent or landing a book contract can be ridiculously difficult. We can go days, weeks, or even months without a sale. Rejections can be so plentiful that we start taking the suggestion to use all the “no” letters as wallpaper seriously. Beta readers might have great insights you take to heart, but positive feedback doesn’t come as consistently as it might from coworkers or a boss.

It all starts to seem like there’s no point.

It’s normal to need some wins to stay motivated

If you step back a bit, you might realize that the feeling of boredom you have really is simply that you’re antsy to have something happen. You’re still in love with the craft. It’s just that people naturally want to do things that other people acknowledge. It gives us a sense of belonging and identity. We’re always looking for that. You just need some confirmation that, if you keep putting in the work, then people will admit that it’s part of you and actually useful.

2 tips for eliminating “meh” and getting excited about your writing again

I explored the need for you to have a support group in a previous post. The better your support group is, the less likely it is that you’ll probably get bored with your writing. If you don’t have a great support group yet, though, then it’s incredibly important to reward yourself for the writing you finish. Give yourself something to look forward to related to the page, even if it’s just a drive-thru coffee you normally wouldn’t splurge on, so you can make positive associations with the work.

It also can help to put your work away. Looking at the same drafts over and over again can start to seem monotonous really fast, which can contribute to boredom. Setting your work aside for a little while and then coming back to it can help you see it with fresh eyes and keep it feeling novel (pun intended).

You’re still meant to put words to the page, so do it

The bottom line is, don’t let a feeling of boredom convince you that writing isn’t what you’re meant to do. Instead, make sure that you’re getting rewarded for it, whether by others or on your own. Be able to rotate out what you’re working on so it doesn’t seem like you’re stuck in a rut so much. By building in variety and giving yourself positive confirmations of value, you’ll stay happy and motivated to write.