Use This Medium Feature to Write More in Less Time

The more efficient you can be with your time, the more writing you can get done.

Words are finally flowing. After a cold start, the engine is running at full speed.

You are unstoppable.

One paragraph, two, three, four. You’re almost done…

And that’s when it happens.

You remember a quote that would tie your whole story together and blow some minds in the process.

You recall the main idea of the quote, but not the exact words or who it’s from, so you head to Google, just for a minute, to get the full quote.

By the time you realize what has happened you are reading about the Argentinian pink fairy armadillo on Wikipedia and one minute has turned into 25.

You find the quote and get back to the story, but it’s too late. The Block is waiting for you with open arms.

You thought you had rid yourself of me? Ha! Look on me and despair! That’s a cute armadillo, though.

If it weren’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.” — Rita Mae Brown

I wrote last month in my First month on Medium wrap-up that an area I was looking to improve in was the time it took me to write each story.

The two approaches I’ve taken to accomplish this are:

  • Separating the processes of idea generation, writing, and editing (Jeff Goins wrote a helpful piece on this)
  • Adding focus to my writing sessions. Every time I sit down to write, I pick a topic from my list of ideas and begin writing on it. I’ve cut down on the “free writing” and the accompanying mental wandering.

I like adding quotes and statistics to my stories, but stopping in the middle of writing to go look something up can have the disastrous effect from above.

It can awaken The Block.

I don’t want to get sucked into the black hole, aka the Internet, nor do I want to forget to add a quote or statistic.

What can I do?

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” — Stephen King

Meet TK.

TK stands for “to come”. It’s a printing and journalism shorthand that’s used as a placeholder for content that will be added later.

Every time I want to add something that requires Googling or stopping my writing, I write a little note to myself followed by TK.

For example, when I wrote The Hemingway Rule I had the exact quote in mind that I wanted to use, but didn’t know it by heart. So at the start of the story, I wrote, “letter from Hemingway to Fitzgerald telling him to just write TK”.

The note is useful in case I forget what I had in mind and the TK reminds me to go back to fill it in.

Won’t my story end up with a bunch of hard to find TKs?

That’s where Medium comes in.

Medium automatically marks each paragraph where you’ve used TK, making it easy to spot each instance.

This is how Medium marks a paragraph with a TK.
Well, that’s helpful, but I’m forgetful. What if I miss a TK while editing and publish my story?

Medium thought about that too. (Thanks Medium!)

Medium adds a warning when you are about to publish a story with a TK in it.

Yes Medium, I’m aware I’m about to publish a story with multiple TKs. That’s the whole point. Thanks for looking out for me though.
Hmm, well, I’m sold. Thanks for this terrific advice and may I say you look especially handsome this morning.

Oh, stop it.

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