The best way to improve your writing is to practice.
I’m constantly asked how to write faster. While I’d like to say that there is a magic secret to writing quickly, the truth is that the best thing you can do to increase your writing speed is to practice.
That’s it: Just practice.
Writing more provides you with an opportunity to learn where the letters are on the keyboard (I’m to the point that a keyboard that isn’t arranged QWERTY-style baffles me). On top of that, as you write more, you will become practiced at organizing your thoughts, and following a logical progression through your posts.
A Few Writing Tips to Help You On Your Way
While practice is the best way to improve your writing speed, there are a few tips that can help you on your way to becoming a faster freelance writer. Everyone is different, so these tips may not be ideal for you, but I can tell you what has worked for me:
- Training: To start off, a little training can help you refine your technique, and learn to compose more effectively. While you probably don’t need a degree in a writing related field, like I have, it can help to take a writing course or two. Consider signing up for a writing class at your local university or community center. Understand the basics of composition, and you will find that the words begin to flow a little easier.
- Read: Many writers are also voracious readers. Become acquainted with a variety of styles. If you specialize in a specific subject area, find out more about it — and how it is tackled by other writers. While you do want to develop your own voice and style, it is important to read. It will give you an idea of organization, as well as improve your knowledge base about your subject of interest.
- Organization: Do you need to write a formal outline for every little thing you write? No. But, before your fingers begin flying across the keyboard, stop and think about the way you want your piece to flow. Beginning, middle, end. Thesis, support, conclusion. Review what you want to write, and the order you want to write it in. Two to five minutes of considering the outline of your writing (for short pieces) can help you compose your article or blog post quicker.
- Avoid distractions: When you work from home, the distractions can really pile up. Your best bet is to try to block out distractions. Most of the time, I can ignore what’s going on in my open Skype window, but there are times when I just have to shut it down. Turn off the TV. Choose a time that your partner, kids, or neighbors won’t bother you. Don’t check the email. And for the love of heave, stay off Facebook.
- Set aside a block of time for writing: Create time in your schedule to write. As a freelance writer, this should be fairly easy to do — it’s your job! Aspiring freelance writers, though, might have to work a little harder to find time to write. Do it. Sit down and write for half an hour, an hour, or more. Even if you don’t have an assignment that pays, write something. Update your blog. Start a story. Begin a writing habit.
But, above all, practice. Keep writing. The more you write, the faster you will become. How did I learn to write fast? I went through a grueling “boot camp” to kick of my Journalism M.A. program. For six weeks, I wrote to a deadline every single day. It was one of the biggest challenges I faced in my academic career. By the end of my program, I had written thousands of pages’ worth. That sort of practice, combined with the research I was required to do, really helped kick my writing into high gear.
You don’t have to enter a writing program to improve your speed. However, as a freelancer, you do need to practice. As you write every day, and as you become more adept at finding your way around the thoughts in your head, and a keyboard, you will see real improvement in your writing speed — and in your ability to earn more in less time as a freelance writer.
Image source: NotFromUtrect via Wikimedia Commons