When it comes to doing things quickly, I was always conveniently “sick” during swimming carnivals. Try as I might, I would always come last — trying to swim forward but usually ending up at the bottom of the pool floor.
When it came to running races, I was always the bridesmaid and never the bride, with a huge amount of red ribbons riddling my teenage memory box instead of blue.
But, have no pity, because I had the power of speed in a different hobby.
I’ve always been an extremely fast writer. Unfortunately, they don’t make blue ribbons for that, because I would be award-winning.
In high school, I would finish essays with more than half the remaining time to spare and still receive full marks. I felt like it was my one superpower, and I’ve always been proud of it.
Teachers would always tell my parents at parent-teacher interviews that I needed to ‘slow down’. My parents would always refute this criticism by saying that I was still producing great work and achieving full marks on tests, so slowing down was unnecessary. They just knew that working quickly and efficiently was a part of my nature, especially when it came to writing essays and stories.
There’s nothing wrong with working quickly if you have the ability to do so.
For writers, the desire to write is a constant within us. We have a lot to say, and not a lot of time to say it. Getting bogged down in perfectionism, taking your time and over-analysing every word can stop you from producing great content and high quantities. Sure, quality over quantity is important. But the more you write, the better you become. And you can still produce quality work at a quick pace.
One of the biggest benefits of writing pieces in a timely manner is that if they do become successful and bring in some coin, it becomes a great return on your investment (your investment being your time and effort).
The majority of my articles that have been the most successful (in terms of curation, readership and monetary reward) have been the ones I’ve produced quickly — where the words flowed with passion, experience and inspiration.
Below is my tried and tested way of producing a piece of content in a quick manner (for reference, this piece took me 40 minutes from start to finish to produce).
Keep an inspiration/ideas list: Pre-game
Keeping an ongoing list of ideas will ensure you have something to turn to even on days where you’d feeling uninspired.
Whether an idea comes to you at work, on the train, in the shower or during a movie — write it on the list. When you’re ready to write, this list eliminates the need for a tiring brainstorm.
Choose the topic: 10 minutes
We have all particular topics that we enjoy writing about.
For me, those topics alternate on a daily basis. Whenever I set out to write a new piece, I will head over to my ongoing list of article ideas and topics to see if a spark ignites.
On some days, I feel inspired to write about work and productivity. On other days, I feel rather introspective and find it cathartic to write about my experiences with grief or my life as an empath.
When it comes to choosing a topic that you will be able to write about quickly, choose the one that sets your soul alight on that particular day. You’ll know in an instant. Also choose topics based off personal experiences and acquired knowledge to ensure that you can free-write without the need for research.
Free write: 20 minutes
Once you know what you’d like to write about, WRITE. Don’t stop.
It’s time to put on your creative hat. This hat is wild and free.
Don’t worry about the structure of the piece, don’t worry about facts being wrong, don’t worry about the sentences running perfectly or your spelling mistakes.
All of that is for your future-self to worry about.
For now, unleash your writing beast. Put down every last ounce of inspiration onto your notepad, word doc or journal. Don’t look back, don’t edit. Get it all down, as messy as it may be.
Edit: 20 minutes
Now pop on your editor’s hat. This hat is much more conservative. It’s probably a no-nonsense grey.
Re-read your work once, and make sure the content flows properly. Break the text into smaller paragraphs and restructure sentences to make it easier to read.
Then, read it again. Fix any grammar and spelling mistakes. Due to the speed of this process, you might miss an error or two, but we aren’t saving lives.
Now ensure your first line is engaging, and your last line wraps your work up nicely. Read it again, just for good luck.
Headline: 10 minutes
Your headline can absolutely make or break your article.
If the headline can’t capture the attention of potential readers, it will crash and burn. No one will click, no one will read. It doesn’t matter how amazing the content is within.
Even though headlines only consist of a few words, the time one needs to spend on this shouldn’t be underestimated. A few extra minutes of brainstorming headline ideas can massively impact the potential success of your article.
The reason I have put this step at the end is because, although we may often have a headline in mind when we set off on our project, the content can change as we write. The main takeaway and the key points of the article that you’ve developed can guide you to a far more succinct, accurate and powerful headline.
Final touches — Unlimited
Once your article is finished, take some time to choose the accompanying images. Add in links and quotes if desired or required. Research tags that are specific to your piece, and choose the ones most likely to draw a crowd.
And now it’s time to publish!
Obviously some pieces require far more time, like pieces requiring lots of research and fact-checking. Some writers even enjoy writing slowly, and some enjoy perfecting the piece along the way.
Every writer is different, but the above is a great process for those who want to pump out content in a time-sensitive manner. Whether it’s on your commute, during your lunch-break, or any small window you have, finishing a piece of content in under 60 minutes is a great feeling and accomplishment.