Writing is not something most people want to do.
The idea of having written something like a blog post or journal entry or even a book can be exciting. But the process of actually writing can be very frustrating and painstaking.
Many that sit down to write will often realize that they’re taking hours to finish a piece such as a blog article. In comparison, it can seem like others that write more often are able to complete their projects in half as much, or even less, time.
If you want to write, but also want to write more efficiently, here are some of my best tips…
1. Ideation, Outline, Write, Edit
One of the leading causes of writer’s block or writer’s frustration is trying to do everything at once.
When writing something there are a few stages:
Attempting to sit down and do all four at the same time is nearly impossible. Yet most writers that struggle with efficiency are trying to do just that.
Think of these as four different tasks that should be completed at four different times.
Think of a sports team. The coaches and players ideate ideas and strategy. Then they outline or practice. Then they play the game (writing). Then they analyze by watching the game (editing). It’s very difficult to ideate while playing a game. It’s difficult to analyze the game while it’s still being played.
2. Consistent Scheduling For All Four
It’s also crucial to schedule time for all four of those elements. You schedule time each month to ideate ideas for the content you write. Then you schedule time for outlining. Then a separate block for writing and another for editing.
It depends on your specific situation, but you might schedule one Monday a month to ideate ideas for the entire month. Then every Tuesday you have time scheduled for weekly outlines. Then on Wednesdays you have time for writing. And finally on Thursdays you have time editing.
One note, you could even have others help with some of these items. You may collaborate with someone on the ideating. You may hire someone to edit your material.
3. Eliminate Distractions
We live in a very distracted world. Our phones are tugging at us constantly to check for updates. It seems silly. After all, checking “real quick” to see if you have new text messages or to see anything new on the Facebook feed, seems harmless.
But this all adds up to hours upon hours each day. And that’s not even the worst part for a task like writing. Each of those interrupts your focus. That’s time to lose your focus, check your phone and then refocus back on the writing.
Remove distractions from your writing area. Phones, people, etc.
4. Small Rewards
I believe in incentives in life. One thing I’ve found that works with my writing and specifically my blogging is to have little incentives or small rewards for finishing something.
I’ll save a video on YouTube to watch later. But I won’t watch it until I brainstorm 20 ideas for blog posts. Or I’ll wait to watch it until after I’ve finished an outline for a post or after I’ve written a post.
Nothing major. It could be a music video or how-to video. It could be a blog post or article I found earlier in the day that I want to spend five minutes reading.
We live in a world with lots of rewards. And that’s wonderful. But I find that with rewards being so easy to come by that we have to change the way we discipline ourselves if we want to get work done. Especially work like writing.
5. Trusted Formats (with some experimentation)
I’m fascinated by songwriters. They have very effective processes for writing songs.
One of those processes is that most songs follow a few different formats. The same rhyming structure. The same length. The same verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus format. Most of what they write follows a few basic rules or formats.
This really helps with efficiency. It’s also what people seem to want. We find a format we’re comfortable consuming and we pretty much like it all the time. Two-hour films, half-hour sitcoms. 300-page novels.
Identify a few formats and get really comfortable with them.
But leave some room, perhaps 5-10%, for experimentation. Longer. Different structures. Etc. Experimentation is good, but you want a baseline of formats to go from.
You’re capable of being an efficient writer. It’s a common frustration to feel that you’re not doing it fast enough. For most types of writing it’s simply too much to do at once. Breaking it into blocks is a great first step. And hopefully the other tips here can help you start to enjoy writing and find fulfillment from it. Because it really is a wonderful thing. For you, the writer, and for the readers.