Writing can be a slow and painful process. Some days the word gods just don’t smile upon you. They barely even smirk.
Sometimes you can write for hours and only have 100-200 words to show for it. And even they don’t seem very good when you read them back.
So you delete them and you’re left with nothing.
Surely there’s a better way? A faster way?
This sort of writing frustration is why people often turn to fast writing ‘systems’ in the hope that there’s some big productivity secret that they’ve missed.
Do fast writing systems work?
Such systems usually focus on the importance of a solid outline and the value of detailed research. They might urge you to set a writing limit (say 1,000 words a day) or to set a timer for 30-60 minutes and just write, write, write without stopping.
Some fast writing systems advocate not writing at all. They recommend dictating. It’s an ideal way to free yourself from the ‘blank page’ and the slow process of transferring your thoughts into words.
Of course, writing is an intensely personal process. Some of the tactics mentioned above might work for you. By all means give them a try.
But they’re not the real secret to fast writing.
That’s actually much simpler but infuriatingly difficult to implement.
The fear of failure
Confidence enables you to overcome the nagging fear that people will think what you’ve got to say is dumb, stupid or worthless.
Confidence helps you to overcome the fear of failure, which keeps articles half-written or wastes your creative energy on rewriting (and rewriting) every paragraph in the pursuit of word-perfect copy.
It’s a lack of confidence that sees you file good ideas to ‘write later’ rather than getting stuck into them now. Or makes you think that you should try to write just like a successful blogger or journalist, instead of finding your own voice.
That’s not the way to stand out. It isn’t the way to get ahead or get noticed. Be unique. You already are.
A lack of confidence is what often slows you down, even stops you from writing altogether. Because if you don’t write, you don’t fail. Before you know it, the only thing you’re doing faster is procrastinating.
The secret to fast writing
Face your fears. Head on. Try that crazy idea. Publish that post you’ve been sitting on. Stop worrying about what people will think of what you’ve written.
Every writer has questioned whether what they’ve written is good enough. If you’re feeling that way, you’re the latest in a long, long line.
And you won’t be the last.
If you’re a writer, just write. The more you do it, the better you get, the more confident you become, the more you begin to understand what works and what doesn’t.
Don’t chase perfection. It’s faster than you. Usain Bolt fast.
Obsessing over every word and sentence structure is another route to procrastination. Aim for accuracy, clarity and brevity instead.
A key part of the learning process
Accept that there will be times when you will fall short. Take failure on the chin. It’s a fundamental part of the learning process. C.S Lewis had over 800 rejections before he sold his first piece of writing. F. Scott Fitzgerald had a rejection letter that reportedly advised: “You’d have a decent book if you’d get rid of that Gatsby character.”
Fast writing is enabled by self-belief. This is an easy thing to say, far more difficult to put into practice. Ultimately, it boils down to these seven action points:
- Face your fears and take action today
- Practice writing until your head hurts
- Write first at breakneck speed, edit slowly later
- Be yourself – don’t try to ape another writer
- Embrace imperfection
- Learn from failure
- Set an attainable goal and pursue it with dogged determination
Start small. If you can entertain, impress, inspire or help just one person (but not your mum), then you can do the same for two, five, 10, 100 and 1000 people.
Small successes build confidence. How will you find yours?