I have always found writing hard work, trying to get ideas that are racing through my brain down on paper, missing words, getting things the wrong way around and writing down using the same language that I would speak with, and that not being correct written English. It would take me at least an hour to write 150 words.
I have always wanted to be able to write, and this year I decided to commit to being better as I find writing really helps me process my thoughts and opinions on a topic. Over the last few months, I have defined a system that works for me, and one that has resulted in my writing speed increasing from 100 words an hour to 500 words an hour, enabling me to write 4000 words in one day.
** The first 2 points I tend to flip around 50% of the time.
1. One-line sentence
Write a single sentence of what problem the piece will solve; this may be a problem someone has told you or even a thought conflict you have in your own mind that you want to share.
2. Who is it for
I remember hearing it on a podcast once (I think Tim Ferris) that when writing pick a single person you want to read your piece and write it as if you are writing it to them.
3. Title of post
This may change as you write but give the piece a title as that will set the tone and give the piece a model to work too.
4. Bullet point list
Write a bullet point list of the core areas you want to cover in the piece.
5. Sentence for each point
Turn each of those bullet points into a 1–2 line sentence.
6. Paragraph for each sentence
Turn each of those bullet-point sentences into a paragraph, at this point; I am trying to get to 100 words a bullet point. The 100-word objective I made a requirement when starting, whereas now I am less protective of it as the words flow much easier.
Now you have a basic piece you can add an introduction, likely building upon the words you wrote for the first two points. What the purpose of the piece is (the problem it solves) and whom it is targeted at.
What is the takeaway, what is your opinion or decision from now writing this piece. If you’re still unable to answer either of these, then leave it with an open question. I had this with my piece on should we say Please/Thank you to our voice assistants.
9. Read through
Give the piece the first read through, trying not to change the piece as you read.
Now you have the basis of the piece (and saved) you can start to re-word different parts, maybe change the ordering, remove text, expand on points. At this point, my pieces tend to reduce in word count by 30% but then increase to 15% more than before the re-write as thoughts are forming.
11. Leave it alone
Leave the piece alone for at least half a day, give your mind time to forget it, move on to another task or even another piece.
12. Proof read
When you return to it after that break, you can proof read it in a quick sweep, making sure it shares the message you hoped it would. I have thrown pieces in the bin and started again after leaving them and coming back.
13. Enable Grammarly
Any type of punctuation is optional when I write as well as using the same word repeatedly, Grammarly though not perfect is great for helping me out with the things I miss and expanding my vocabulary.
14. Text to speech
Listen to your piece via text to speech; I just use Microsoft Word’s built-in Read Aloud tool, it is great for spotting issues with flow, missing word and bad punctuation especially when in a more longer-form piece.
15. Move to CMS
I host my pieces on Medium, so I move it to the platform and add images and formatting where needed. By this point, I am near the end, so polishing always feels good.
16. External proof readers
Get 1 or a few people to read your piece, add comments/thoughts and then tweak.
That is it, 16 steps that have helped me write faster and more confidently (at around 750 words this piece took me about 40 minutes in total).
If you have any writing hacks or questions, please shoot me a comment, as would love to hear your thoughts.