1. Write in uninterrupted stints
The word to emphasize there is “uninterrupted.” Interruptions include other people, outside obligations, and… yourself.
If you want to get something done with your writing, it’s necessary to actually do the writing. Sounds really simple, doesn’t it?
Well, that’s why it’s a really good idea to have an interest in what you’re writing about. It makes it a whole lot easier to connect with the part of you that madly wants to write and will do so as quickly as possible.
Heck, the opposite is also true. If you absolutely abhor what you are writing about, but you need to do it, why not allow that to be the motivator to get it done and be through with it? Life feels much better on the other side of that research essay. Remind yourself that the only way out is through and you’ll get there.
You don’t need coffee. You don’t need performance-enhancing nanodrugs or special dance moves to get you there. Step out of your own way and hand over the reins to the side of you that gets stuff done. The monster. The magician. The wild person.
If you kept track of it I’m sure you’d be surprised (maybe horrified) at how long many people take to write something simply because they are sitting there… either thinking or doing other things.
You will see me reiterating this point elsewhere in this article and in other posts on this blog.
Write without stopping and you can reach your word count goals.
If you can write without stopping, you are already so far ahead of the pack it’s absurd. The biggest enemy of writing productivity is not some kind of fancy writer’s block but actually just the habitual ways of thinking that we all entertain rather than being willing to begin writing before we know what we are going to say.
Getting words on the page is half the battle. It’s not about getting your ideas right first and then writing.
In my experience, it’s about being willing to dive in and take action.Engage the flow first and then the flow can support you. Click To Tweet
Irony of the year == the right words are going to find you much more nimbly when you are already in the flow.
If you are sitting there thinking, you’re already two steps removed from writing the right words.
Nothing against thinking, deliberating, moodling, doodling, or all that. But when it comes time to write… be willing to do it. Be willing to endure the slight discomfort of uncertainty or fear of saying the wrong thing and you will find that good ideas will show up for you in no time.
Writing is a way to discover things. Not only would it not be /possible to know everything I’m going to write before I write it, but knowing everything in advance also wouldn’t be very interesting to me. I like to make discoveries and explore different ideas and reorder my thoughts.
I like to stumble around like a fool as I find the “right words.”
Hopefully it shows.
2. Improve your typing speed
There are all sorts of online typing programs that you can use to improve your typing speed.
Side note for fellow nerds: I used one a few years back to learn a different keyboard layout. I now type in Colemak layout rather that the much more common Qwerty layout. I switched cold turkey. It was a really interesting experience. I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but I love Colemak. It is more ergonomic and it just makes more sense to me. For someone who needs to type on other peoples computers, I wouldn’t recommend it, because now I type really slowly on a Qwerty keyboard. My speed is about the same but typing feels more smooth to me. My fingers stay on home row more rather than flying all over the place.
https://thetypingcat.com/ is a good one.
3. Practice typing things you like
Learning to type or learning to type faster presents the opportunity to type out stuff that you like. Find some passages written by writers you love and retype them. It’s a great way of experiencing the different subtleties of a great author. Plus then you can share that passage with someone in the form of a quote.
You can also use a passage by a different writer as a great starting off point for doing a freewrite of your own. Write by copying what they wrote. Then, when you feel like making a departure, go for it. Drop the words from them, and start writing something of your own. See what happens. If you want to return, then you can return right where you left off.
4. Voice dictation
This isn’t going to improve your typing rate, but you can massively increase your productivity by doing voice dictation. All you need is a voice recorder or an app that does the same thing. Talk into that thing when you’ve got something to say. Later, you can play it back for yourself to transcribe or use the record feature of Google Docs or Dragon Dictate to transcribe it.
Voice dictation is something that I am just getting into in a serious way. It’s a whole different modality with its own challenges and benefits. My favorite way to use it is to speak into the recorder while I’m driving. It makes use of otherwise unused time.
Write several times a day for only a few minutes at a time.
Most of the time spent writing is wasted for most people because they sit thinking and deliberating… or distracting themselves.
When you only have ten minute burst to fill with words, that’s something you know you can ace.
Constraints like this can be awesome motivators. You /know you need to meet your word count goal, but all you have is a single hour spread in fifteen minute bits throughout your day.
You can’t let yourself slack.
It’s awesome to see how a few minutes here and there do add up over time. When you see the positive results from trying this, it might make you curious about other ways of making your spare slices of time work in your favor rather than just seeing it as downtime.
Those slices of time you space out on social media? Maybe a big missed opportunity.
This approach is also awesome because it takes advantage of that surge of energy you get when starting a new task. You can write in sprints rather than taking a marathon pace.
Speaking of which…
5. A writing marathon
If you have two hours in the morning or evening, why not spend that time in a structured way with a focused freewrite, marathon style?
- Devote the first moment of your writing marathon just getting grounded, familiarizing yourself with the overarching project and your goals. Get your bearings.
- Spend the first few minutes plotting out the general plan of what you would like to write.
- Then either spend some more time developing a rough outline with this… or dive right into it. Just start writing. Bask in the sumptuous chaos of creation.
A writing marathon for a specified length of time can guarantee that you reach your word count goal.
The math runs like this:
1 letter per second minimum pace (a very achievable goal): 3600 characters per hour.
This very conservative figure of course means you write without stopping. It’s assumed that some material will not be used. You may need to trim some stuff away. You also may need to add some material. But even if you only keep half of what you write, that’s a solid success.
It’s also a very conservative figure. Most people type much faster than that. During a writing marathon, there are likely to be times when you have bursts of writing faster. As long as you maintain the minimum pace, you are keeping well within the parameters of the writing marathon.
The idea is to avoid stopping. Stopping is not going to help you. Stopping is the enemy of flow.