When you’re a freelance writer, you may often be paid by the word or per project rather than by the hour. This means the faster you can write, the more you’ll make for your time.
But moving faster can result in low-quality writing, which can eventually put you out of a job. Quality in your content is critical, but that doesn’t mean you can’t adjust your speed. You might even find that your writing improves alongside your time if you use some of the tried and true speed strategies below.
How to write faster and better
1. Type Faster
Writers who type 100 wpm (words per minute) will obviously crank out content more quickly than people who type 40 wpm, which is the national average. Although 100 wpm may be out of your range, you can still improve your speed with typing exercises or online courses.
Aim for at least 60 wpm with as few errors as possible. It won’t help the ideas come any faster, but it will help you get them down more quickly with less editing.
2. Use Templates
Every freelancer should have a series of templates in his or her arsenal for speed and quality. Your standard templates might include blog posts, newsletters, e-books, grants, and other pieces you compose frequently.
You could create your own templates, but since you’re looking to save time, try downloading freebies from sites like Hloom.
Free tools such as these will quickly expand your toolbox and improve your writing overall.
3. Plan Your Content First
Don’t start writing until you know where you’re going with the content. By taking five minutes to plot out your article, newsletter, etc., you can shrink your editing and revising time. This is much better than wasting time by winging it and having to spend more time shaping and improving your content.
4. Work Offline Whenever Possible
Eliminating distractions while you’re writing correlates with faster writing times. Often, social media, online video streaming, and random Googling are the biggest diversions. When you indulge in those subconsciously as you’re writing, you double your project time.
Turn off your router while you’re working to remove the temptation. If you can’t avoid the Internet, try a program such as Focus Booster to block your most distracting sites for a specified amount of time. You’ll be amazed by how much faster you can write without distractions.
5. Study Research Tactics
Start with basic sources like Wikipedia for a general rundown on the topic, but make sure you don’t base your final product on such uncertified content. Once you understand what you’re writing about, triangulate research from more reputable sources for the final piece.
Efficient research requires patience and practice. You’ll learn how search engines instantly locate the right sources and ways to gather information from an article through scanning. Over time, you should become a master of the research process.
6. Use Editing Tools
Thorough editing can take just as long as writing, and it’s arguably the most important aspect. Rushing the edit will leave more writing mistakes in its wake, but you can economize the process with certain tools.
Grammarly, for example, checks both basic spell-check errors as well as sentence structure issues. If you employ such editing tools consistently, you’ll lower the error count and perfect your writing style with half the time for traditional editing.
Take a look at our experience with Grammarly.
7. Stick With What You Know
As you gain expertise in a particular niche, you will write more quickly on the topic. The knowledge will come naturally when you rely on personal experience rather than third-party research. But double-check your facts when you’re done to avoid discrepancies of memory.
8. Practice Speed Writing
The speed writing method involves writing nonstop from beginning to end and covering all the ideas without pausing to correct errors along the way. Add and revise grammar, sentence structure, and coherence afterward, and you’ll often find your ideas are stronger because you never second-guessed yourself.
Once you’ve finished your first draft, you can start revising. Edit sentences and proofread grammar for a cleaner final product.
Don’t be afraid to delete entire paragraphs that don’t match the main idea or to rewrite a few things in pursuit of a better paper.
You’ll find this method may cut your writing time in half.
9. Write When You Feel It
Sometimes, it’s hard to feel passionate or engaged with your content. Taking a break and coming back when you feel the writing groove return will make you a more efficient writer. There’s no point in wasting hours trying to force yourself through a piece of content when you might complete it in half the time a little later.
10. Reference Trusted Sources
Develop a list of your favorite blogs for certain topics. If you write a lot on real estate, subscribe to Realtor or Bigger Pockets. If your focus is business and marketing, reference Entrepreneur and Forbes.
You’ll learn to recognize when articles are reputable and fact-based as opposed to largely composed of opinions, which will cut your research time. You’ll also accumulate go-to resources that reduce the time you spend hunting for reputable sources.
With a little practice, consistency, and dedication to improvement, you’ll reach “personal best” levels of writing speed and quality.
You want to know how to write faster and better? Try the tips above and see where they get you.