No Matter how hard you try, writing can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. Whether it’s a paper, article, novel or even an email, it’s not always easy to quickly and clearly express your ideas. The good news is that with a little practice, you can greatly minimize the amount of time you waste not writing and increase the speed at which you do write. In this article, we’ll explore seven simple techniques that can help you become a more efficient writer and make the most of your writing time.
Write your introduction last
As the famous quote by Dr. Kim Wilkins suggests, “My advice is to finish the book, then scrap the first chapter all together and write it again without looking at the original.” Sometimes, it can be faster to write your introduction or first paragraph once you’ve already written everything else. This way, you won’t waste time agonizing over trying to make your content fit the tone of your introduction. Additionally, writing your introduction last means you already know exactly what you need to summarize in it, as it’s already on the page. Finally, writing your introduction after you’ve already written the bulk of your content allows you to avoid staring at a blank page, wondering where to begin.
Be Flexible with Wording
Another major time-waster when writing is agonizing over every word. As tempting as it can be to comb through a thesaurus to find that perfect word or phrase, it can be counterproductive, taking you away from your flow and knocking you off track. During your first draft, don’t worry too much about the wording. Instead, focus on getting your thoughts down on paper. Go back and revise your document later, looking specifically for words or phrases that could use improving. If you know there are words or phrases that you want to return to, highlight or change their color so you remember to come back to them.
Do all your research first
Nothing interrupts the flow of writing like needing to stop and do research in the middle of it. Research can be time-consuming, and it can distract you from the point you’re trying to make. Do as much research as you can in advance, before you begin writing. This allows you to focus all of your energy on writing, without interrupting your thoughts.
Distractions can quickly derail your efforts to write efficiently, especially when you’re working on a computer or other device. The best way to avoid distractions is to treat every trip away from your writing document like a trip into enemy territory. Try to keep all of your research and sources in the top portion of a document, then do your writing in the bottom portion of the document. Use a slash or image between the two halves to keep everything organized. This way, you won’t run the risk of getting distracted every time you need to check your information or a new email pops up.
Relax on your first draft
Many experts agree that your first draft will always need work, no matter how long you take to make everything perfect. For this reason, nitpicking too much on your first draft can slow you down. It’s much faster to keep your momentum going, than it is to get back on track several times a paragraph. Save yourself time as you write by powering through your first draft, then doing all your revisions at once.
Set a writing timer
When you struggle to come up with material to write quickly, free flowing writing can help you come up with ideas. One way to achieve this is by setting a timer and forcing yourself to keep writing until the time goes off. This not only forces you to stay away from distractions, but it’s also a great warmup exercise to get your writing juices flowing.
As Anton Chekhov said, “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” When struggling to find writing that grabs your readers’ attention, a quick way to burst through cliches is to be as specific as possible. Vague descriptions or phrases can be too generic to be interesting. For example, instead of having a character say they’re freezing, have them say the threads of their mittens are freezing to their fingers. By taking general descriptions or phrases and making them more specific, you can quickly revise your writing while improving its impact.
In conclusion, becoming a more efficient writer doesn’t have to involve a complete overhaul of your process. By implementing these seven simple techniques, you can greatly minimize the amount of time you waste not writing, and increase the speed at which you do write. Remember that the more you practice these techniques, the easier they will become – and the faster you’ll be able to produce high-quality writing.