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Writing Faster, Yet Better — Old Traditions

laptopExperienced writers have given the same advice for writing faster since well before I was born.  In fact, they’ve given it since before my great-grandparents were born.  Except that in my great-grandparents’ days, there was a lot of emphasis on handwriting speed.

With today’s internet resources, the basic “writing faster” advice — in the meaning of producing more text content — is being passed around at super speed, with the help of even younger, modern writers who’ve re-discovered it themselves.

Since the evolution of the “content is king” concept, everybody and his brother wants to know how to turn out as much written content as possible post-haste.  And they find it discouraging that those with both education and experience in writing keep telling them how hard it is.  How much time it takes even when you get comparatively fast at it.  How much planning is involved.  How much practice is involved.

But don’t be discouraged.  It is true that writing is hard work.  It is a skilled endeavor that requires practice.  It is also true that as you practice and as you start using the tips and techniques, you get faster.  You catch on to why the tips and techniques work.

Even better, you’ll find that along with the new publishing concepts of the Internet Age, as well as new digital techniques, you’ll expand your concept of what constitutes “writing.”

Before I get into that, let me recommend you learn the standard basics of speeding up writing while keeping your work up to good quality standards.

The Traditional Advice

Here are some articles you should read that cover the traditional advice for writing faster and better, but in modern terms:

1. How To Write Better and Faster  by CM Smith.  Traditional advice relearned by young writer.  Warm up, write an outline, let it sit and cook for a while, go back and write like a demon without thinking too hard about it, go back and edit and cut out the unnecessary words.  Now, I would have put a second session of let it sit and cook after writing like a demon.  But his way works, too.

2. 10 Tips for Writing Faster Without Quality Loss
Tara Hornor’s 10 suggestions include three of the top traditional tips:
a. Write at most productive time
b. Practice makes perfect
c. Take breaks and exercise to re-energize yourself in a long writing process.

3. 14 Tips for Writing Faster
Kivi Leroux Miller talks about what to do before you write, while writing and after writing.

She offers tips for each segment of her organized approach to make each part faster.  Most experienced fast writers will tell you this truth: having a plan, a system, an organized approach is the #1 speed secret in writing. She’s got that.

I particularly like her take on the admonition against writing and editing at the same time: she quotes Heminingway’s “write drunk, edit sober.”  Updated, that means write freely as fast as you can without overthinking what you’re saying.  You can edit when you’ve finished writing.

4. Write FAST and Furious! Learning to Outrun “The Spock Brain”.  Kristin Lamb has the best twist on the importance of writing fast now and editing later.  In fact, her motivating article focuses on that subject alone. After you read this article, you’ll probably want to explore her other ideas and advice.  Nice site.

New Documents, New Traditions

All of the traditional advice works.  And since we all have to write — for school, for work, for our blogs, for Kindle books, or whatever — we need to learn how to speed up our actual writing.

However, these days we also have to think not merely in terms of writing, but in terms of “content production.”  Writing per se is part of it.  But writers have to adapt to many different forms of communication and publishing.

There are articles, charticles and infographics. There are videos that need  written scripting, audio scripting and graphics scripting.  There is “content curation.”  There is rewriting of public domain and PLR content.  There are podcasts to script.  And lots more.

So being a fast writer today means not only writing faster, but being able to put all parts of the new kinds of documents together faster.

The good news is that along with the new forms of communication have come new ways of doing them faster and faster and better and better.

But that belongs in another article.

More Resources:

While researching for the series of articles that this article belongs in, I came across two “good old books” that might interest you.

One of the recurring themes in advice about writing faster is the idea that if you want to write faster, you need a grounding in just plain good writing first.

In Everyday English Writing, William Leavitt Stoddard addresses the bulk of non-professional writers who also have to be able to communicate for business, academic or personal reasons.  He wrote this book that could be used by people with only an elementary school education.  He shows you the reason that everyone should learn to write plain and simple English, and he shows how it’s done.  Very progressive for a book from 1919. Just click on the book’s title above to download a copy.

The next book I recommend you look through is Writing Through Reading, A Suggestive Method of Writing.  It’s by Robert M. Gay.  Get it by clicking on the book’s title above.   This book, published in 1921 is another fairly progressive idea for teaching writing.  You’re advised to read, then translate, rewrite, imitate the style or method of a work, or develop derivative works from what you’ve read.  So you learn from dealing with the good writing of others to be a better writer yourself.

Yeah, the writing of the era is a bit stilted, but the idea is sound.  Especially for those of us who want to produce content faster by extracting and/or rewriting public domain or PLR.