As a writer, you’re probably looking for ways to increase how much you can write. There are 2 ways to do this, by increasing the amount of time you have for writing, or by increasing how quickly you write.
Sometimes you can’t realistically spend more time writing. It’s okay if you just have 10 to 30 minutes each day to work on writing. With a fast enough writing speed, you can consistently get 1000 words in just 30 minutes.
Here are 5 ways you can increase your writing speed:
1. Don’t Go Back and Edit Your Work
Don’t go back, just keep moving forward. Pass go, collect your $200, and keep writing!
Going back and editing your work while you’re supposed to be making progress on your story will just lead to a loop of writing, editing, and rewriting, which will slow down your rate of progress.
If you realize you need to edit or rewrite something, make a little note for yourself. You can come back to it once you’re working on just the editing or revision phase of your project.
Think of it like furnishing a room.
Writing, then rewriting what you just wrote, and then rewriting again is like getting a table for an empty room. And then deciding that that table isn’t good enough and replacing it, over and over again until you finally find a table that’s good enough.
Continuing to write even if you don’t like what you’ve done so far is like furnishing a room with a lot of mediocre furniture. It’s not perfect, but now you have a room that you can use instead of just a display area for 1 table.
Once you’ve got a practical and usable room, you can start to slowly replace the items with higher quality pieces, until you have a really nice room. Likewise, once you’ve got a story written, you can start working on improving its quality.
Separate your editing time from your writing time, and ignore the urges to edit when you should be increasing your word count.
2. Don’t Hesitate, Just Write
Typing speed doesn’t matter when it comes to how much you can write in a set amount of time. Hesitation, on the other hand, does.
If you can type at a speed of 50 words per minute, because of how quickly your hands move, then you can write 1500 words in just 30 minutes. But you probably can’t write 50 words per minute, because of how much you hesitate.
I know that when typing quickly, 40 to 50 words per minute is perfectly reasonable for me, as long as I don’t take into account my own hesitation. When I’m cautious about my word choice, my grammar, or my pacing, I will only get between 20 to 30 words per minute.
It’s okay to have bad grammar, a plethora of spelling mistakes, and a lot of cliches. You can always go back and edit or rewrite once you’re finished writing. But while you’re supposed to be writing, just keep writing. Don’t be cautious, and don’t go back and rework things.
You’ll make a lot more progress on your word goals that way.
3. Practice Speed Writing
If you have no problems with hesitation or the urges to go back and rework things, but you just can’t type very quickly, you can practice speed writing.
You may be told that you need to use your fingers in a specific way to type quickly, and you were probably taught it in school too. You need to use all 5 fingers on each hand and you can only use certain fingers for each letter.
I use 3 fingers on each hand, and I can maintain a speed of 40-50 words per minute when I know what I’m going to be writing. Even then I still have issues with hesitation, as I have strong urges to think through the correct spelling and I check to make sure my grammar is good.
I also tend to hesitate even when I know what I want to write, since I like to go over alternate phrasings in my mind.
One of the ways that I combat this is by practicing speed writing. I do this by setting a short timer and then writing as much as I possibly can until the timer goes off. This allows me to get used to typing quickly, and helps prevent me from hesitating and second guessing my word choices and sentence structures.
When choosing a duration, I find that 15 minutes works best for me, since it’s long enough to challenge my focus and dedication (which doesn’t last long when speed writing), but short enough that I don’t get completely worn out.
Speed writing is difficult and taxing, but it has definitely improved my writing speeds.
4. Find an Environment that Works for You
Certain environments will work better for you, depending on what you need in order to focus.
I always write more quickly when I have a lot of focus, and so I write more quickly in certain settings.
While writing, I need these things:
- Lack of Music
- Natural Light
- Unobtrusive Imagery
I cannot write quickly while listening to music. I’m not sure why, since writing at a deliberately slow pace while listening to music doesn’t prove to be distracting.
Other noises, such as the muted sounds of a distant TV, the chirping of birds, or the snoring of sleeping animals don’t slow down my writing at all, but music will. Because of that, I only listen to music while writing if it’s to block out other disruptive noises.
While I don’t need all the light around me to be natural light to write, having at least a bit of it helps me a lot. Very bright sunlight slows me down though.
As for imagery and things going on in the background, the less intrusive it is, the better. Bright colors and moving objects can distract me a lot, but I can look at trees, plants, and sleeping animals while still writing, and not suffer any decrease in speed.
Just because I need certain things in order to write quickly, doesn’t mean that you need them too. I have many writer friends who find that they can’t write without music, and absolutely need to listen to something in order to write quickly.
Experiment and find out which environments work the best for you.
5. Write a Lot
Lastly, writing a lot will help you improve your writing speed.
Practice makes progress, and so consistently practicing will help you make consistent progress on whichever goals you want to complete.
I’ve found that my writing only got really quick after I started blogging, since when I started blogging I began working on writing almost every day.
What do you do to increase your writing speeds? Let me know in a comment.
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I blog about writing every Wednesday, so check back next week for some new content! If you’re interested in studying tips, tricks, and advice, check out my other blog: Study Buddy Blog