Without a doubt, if you ask any writer about their goals, they’re sure to say they’d like to write faster.
Some professional content writers can produce thousands of words in a day and, believe it or not, their content is of impeccable quality (trust us, we’ve seen it on our team!). Others, though, may take days to produce the same number of words. If you’re in the latter group, you might find it very frustrating that you can’t write as many words as some of your peers.
If you’re a paid writer, the number of words you’re able to produce is a key determining factor in how much you can earn and how many hours you have to work in a day. Even as a casual writer, writing speed plays a crucial role in productivity. In either case, you’re here to answer a worthwhile question: How can you improve writing speed without sacrificing quality?
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
Before we dive into how you can improve your writing speed, it’s first essential to address that writing fast doesn’t make any difference if you’re not writing well.
You should never look to produce more words under the guise of “productivity” if those words aren’t well-researched or well-thought-out. You might be able to write “filler” content all day long, but what does it matter how much you can write if the content you create isn’t enjoyable and informative for readers to consume?
“Quality over quantity” is an old adage, but it’s something we stress all the time. After all, as a content production platform, we love it when a writer can get a lot done, but we don’t care how many words someone can write if their content is ultimately poorly written, poorly researched, or riddled with errors. Whether you’re writing for yourself or for paying clients, quality is something you should keep at the front of your mind.
Improve Your Typing Speed
Writers often get “in the zone” and the words flow effortlessly from their mind onto their blank canvas, but you can easily lose your concentration if your fingers can’t keep up. This brings us to our first big tip:
You can only write as fast as you can type.
Tips to Type Faster
- Use your home keys. Learning proper finger placement on the keyboard is a big help. Sure, there are plenty of exceptional writers who can type at warp speed using only a few fingers, but it’s easier to gain speed if you’re able to use all of your fingers efficiently.
- Measure your WPM. Most jobs require a minimum typing speed of 60 words per minute (WPM), but that’s quite low when looking at professional writers. Measure your WPM so you know your starting point and then set a goal in the range of 75 to 120.
- Take a test. Plenty of free online typing tests and tools exist that will both measure your WPM and give you the chance to practice navigating your way around the keyboard. Test yourself every day and track your improvement.
Improve Your Accuracy
Much like writing fast doesn’t matter if you’re not producing quality content, typing fast doesn’t matter if you’re constantly hitting the wrong keys and producing errors. Everyone has to go back and fix typos, but you’ll be most efficient if you can get your typing accuracy over 90% (that means at least 90 of every 100 words you type are error-free).
Tips for Better Accuracy
- Memorize the keyboard. “Muscle memory” plays a major role in being able to type fast and type accurately. Practice by looking at your screen as you write instead of your keys. Eventually, you should be able to type with your eyes closed.
- Stop editing as you write. Many of us are in the habit of editing our errors as we make them, which means we end up pressing the “delete” button all the time. Not only does this slow you down, but it also breaks your concentration and “writing rhythm,” which leads to more erasing. Instead, get in the habit of editing only after you’ve finished the section, page, or chapter.
Plan Before You Write
Once your fingers are able to fly across the keyboard, the next step in improving your writing speed is tackling the question of what you’re actually going to write. Nothing kills your writing speed faster than tapping your fingers mindlessly, waiting for ideas to come.
The Benefits of Outlining
- Outlines let you plan out the structure of the content in advance, improving how your writing “flows” from one point to the next.
- Your outline will act as a guide while you write, ensuring you don’t go off on a tangent or find yourself mid-sentence thinking about what to write next.
- If you’re trying to target keywords, outlines let you decide where those keywords are most relevant within the content, allowing you to include them in a more natural way.
Tips for Effective Outlining
- Perform some preliminary research on your topic. If you’re writing an article, for example, look at the top-ranking articles for your primary keyword and take notes on the topics and points they each cover. Look to offer more value than all of your references combined.
- Start with a basic outline covering just the main sub-headings. Once you’ve decided how to structure the main sub-headings, you can add specific details under each one.
- If you’re trying to stick to a specific word count, estimate how long each section should be so you don’t go over (or end up under) your word count goal.
Research More Efficiently
Writing fast means writing efficiently, and one of the most time-consuming areas of content production has to be research. Quality research is essential to quality content, but you may find that researching a topic takes far longer than it should because you don’t know where to look for information or you’re not taking proper notes when you do.
Tips for Efficient Research
- Know what you’re looking for. You should have a solid direction in your head (i.e., a primary topic or keyword) before you dive into the research process. If you don’t know what you want to write, you’re going to consume a lot of irrelevant information.
- Qualify your sources. Google Scholar is an excellent resource for finding studies and academic research on a variety of topics, from content marketing to acupuncture. Meanwhile, plenty of websites are out there to offer unique insights, but. you have to make sure they’re reputable.
- Confirm all facts. Whenever you see a statistic or claim from an unfamiliar source, make sure you verify it. If you find a website that’s routinely offering low-quality, low-value, or inaccurate information, put it on your “research blacklist” so you know not to waste your time with that source in the future.
Optimize Your Time
We all have 24 hours in our day, but research has shown that we’re generally most effective during a certain timeframe. That timeframe differs from person to person, but you likely already know whether you’re an early-riser, a night owl, or someone in between who gets a second wind in the afternoon.
If you feel there’s a time of day when you hit “peak productivity,” try to write during that time.
Log Your Writing Performance
You can’t master what you don’t measure, so keep a log of your writing performance every time you sit down at your keyboard. Note the time you started writing, the time you finished writing, and how many words you ultimately produced. Make a note in your log every time you find yourself procrastinating or spending more than a couple minutes trying to find the right words.
Overtime, your writing log will reveal a lot. For instance, you might find that you routinely end up stopping and struggling to figure out what to write next after you’ve been writing for more than an hour. Or, you might find that you begin to procrastinate more and more if you write continuously for too long.
Your writing log may also reveal what time of day you’re most productive. For instance, maybe all of your morning writing sessions averaged a higher WPM than your afternoon sessions.
Strive for New Goals
Your writing will only get better with practice, but you should always be striving for new goals. Since you’re logging your writing performance, it will be easy to calculate your average WPM. From there, you can calculate how many words you write in an hour or in a day and set goals accordingly.
While your writing speed most definitely has a cap since those fingers can only move so fast, realize that you can continue to improve your writing efficiency (i.e., how effectively you research) and writing quality almost infinitely. Your writing style is in a constant state of refinement and tracking your performance over time will only help you get better.
Tired of typing? Our writers love it.
If you need content for your website or business, you probably don’t have the time to master all the nuances of keyword analysis, outlining, or optimizing. So, let us do it for you.