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How to Double, Triple or Quadruple Your Writing Speed… Today!

escribir_2It’s great to see so many people give us advice on how to better promote ourselves and engage with our audience.

Like the guest post on guest posting the other day: That’s excellent stuff, and it was heartening to see in the comments how many people were inspired to start writing more.

Something that doesn’t get mentioned nearly often enough though, is how to actually write.

You know, the process of getting those words on your screen in the right order.

Especially, how to write with ease and speed. And without too much frustration.

I’m a writer by trade, and I can tell you I know how stupidly difficult it can be some days.

Here is a basic and simple, yet incredibly effective strategy that writing pros use to get to their daily word count without going bonkers.

Put these into practice and be serious about it, and you’ll boost your writing speed to that of a true ninja within a month.

Try this today, because I’m pretty sure you’ll see results instantly.

Basic Writer’s Identity: Three Hats

I’m not the first (or only) writer to talk about this approach, but it’s so important and so radically useful that I decided to give it the Stellar treatment just for Danny’s readers.

Here goes:

There are three distinct phases you go through when you write. The more you are able to separate these, the faster and more fluidly you will write.

Let me explain.

Every writer, professional or otherwise, has three personas dealing with the job of creation.

1. The Inventor

This is the inspired visionary, the person who comes up with the great ideas.
This one is at work when you stare at the wall through the mist rising from your coffee.
The visionary is the guy who suddenly tells you: “Pull over, you gotta write this idea down”.

2. The Writer

You writer is the guy who has to do all the hard work. He has to take the Inventor’s ideas and turn them into something legible and coherent.
The best way to do this – as I’ll explain in a minute – is to write as if you’re on fire, without stopping.
Writing speed is all that counts at this stage.
That does of course mean mistakes, and plenty of them – and that’s why you have an Editor.

3. The Editor

Once your Writer is done, the Editor steps up.
He sits down, looks at the unbelievable mess the writer created, and in that mess he finds the meaning, the message.
He’s like that sculptor who says: “There’s an angel hidden in this block of marble. I’ll chip away at it until it’s the only thing left.”

The thing with these three personalities is that you should bloody well leave them alone when they’re doing their thing.
I’m saying: If you’re contemplating what you’re going to write, your Inventor is hard at work trying to invent something.
If at that point you bring in your Writer and already start building phrases or outlines, you stifle the right-brain creativity that the Inventor needs to do his work.
Just let him cook up whatever idea he’s toying with. When he hands over the idea to your Writer, that’s when it starts to make sense.

Blank Page Syndrome Much? How to Shut Up Your Writer Forever

Your writer is typically an unrecognized genius.

He’s able to craft a story, an interesting and engaging exposition, of the ideas the Inventor creates.

His skill at filling in blanks, making connections, deftly wielding wordage to astutely convey a message – it’s all pretty amazing.

Problem is, if there’s one thing that will shut up your Writer instantly, it’s the Editor putting his nose where it doesn’t belong.

How do you know when your Editor is messing with your Writer?

The backspace key.

See, a Writer is a creator. He’ll get far more creating done if he isn’t interrupted.

And each time you hit the delete or backspace key, you are stopping the creative flow the Writer is in.

Just leave him alone. Let the Editor just wait his turn.

He’s the one who will make it pretty, fix errors, move ideas and content around for better coherency – and he’s very much the guy who is there to scrap as much as 50% of what the writer turned out.

But not until the writer is done and headed for coffee detox.

Putting it Into Practice: Fast Writing, Today. Here’s How…

1. Go to your thinking place, and reserve some time to spend there. For me, 10 minutes is usually enough to come up with an idea for a blog post. If you need an hour or a day, that’s fine. Just make sure you’re not writing – you can jot down notes, but keep it mind-mappy. Don’t write.

2. When you have a reasonable idea in your mind (or on paper), get out your favorite writing configuration. Coffee, music, the right chair, your cat – whatever works best for you.

Personally, I like to set a time for 33.33 minutes, during which I write-write-write and am not allowed to get away from my keyboard.

At this point, you need to firmly resolve that forward is the only way.

You’re NOT going to touch the backspace key. Not allowed.

You’re just going to get ideas onto ‘paper’, as many as you can, as quickly as you can.

Your Writer is now boss, and he wants full liberty to say whatever he can come up with about the Visionary’s ideas.

Just let him run with it. The more you write, and the crappier it is, the better. Really.

Write until your timer rings, or you reach the end of the article you’re working on.

Take a break.

3.  Best is to give it a day. That way you’ll come back fresh and open-minded.

It’s time to let your Editor do his thing.

Very likely, you’ll remember the draft from the day before as truly an utter piece of unusable crap.

And hopefully, it will be.

Because once you open the doc and you let your Editor’s mind go over the copy, you’ll see that in between all the errors, there are fantastic ideas, ready to just be extracted, cleaned up, and put in the right position.

Exactly the kind of job your Editor excels at.

Before you know it, you’ll have a perfectly publishable piece of writing that just needs a final proofing.

Am I making sense, do you see how it works?

Try it. You’ll be amazed.

Let me know in the comments how it went and how much you increased your writing speed.

About Martin Edwards

Martin Edwards helps entrepreneurs build sustainable on-line businesses that don't drain their bank accounts before they start making money. Grab a free tutorial to jump start your first money-making idea at Bootstrap Wealth.

54 thoughts on “How to Double, Triple or Quadruple Your Writing Speed… Today!

  1. Martin,
    Excellent ideas! I have heard this before…not to touch the editing until the writing is done. I have a question for you. Where do you fit in the research. Is this done during the Inventor stage or the Editor stage? A lot of my writing is based on research, and many times my ideas come from an article I read, etc., then I need to go look up more “stuff.” This may be obvious but for me it gets in the way of just spending the 33:33 minutes writing. Any ideas? Thanks!

    • Hey Linda,

      Good question!

      Research is a separate part of the job, and it comes before anything else.

      Whether you need a lot of research or not depends on what you’re writing: When I write my daily email, I don’t need the research because it’s always some sort of topic I already know a lot about.

      When I write for clients, there is usually a lot of research involved. Many many hours, usually several days. I always try to read far more than I’ll ever need.

      That way I have so much stuff floating around my brain that during the actual creation process, I don’t get those blank moments that are a sign of insufficient research.

      That help?

          • SO glad Linda brought up research. She beat me to the punch. LOL

            I’m a B2B Ghotwriter | Copywriter & I literally spend three hours researching stuff, six days/wk.

            I can use these tips when creating my own resources.

            Thanks so much for this post.

  2. This post is right on. I used to try to do all tasks at once, resulting in a frustrating agonizing mess. A mess I called “failure.” Once I 1) embraced failure as a process of refinement (and nowadays I just call it “refinement”) and 2) embraced the full speed ahead method of writing– I found a tremendous improvement in my ability both to write faster and to reach the reader in a more effective and personal way.

    Thanks Martin for pointing out that there are actually three personalities at work, and that they all need to play nice 🙂

  3. Hi Martin,
    Thank you for a very powerful post. I currently really struggle with my ‘rude’ Editor who is forever interrupting my Writer. You explained it perfectly, and reeled me back in. So now, I am off to create and NOT touch that delete key! It’s such a simple suggestion…just don’t touch delete…yet so difficult to actually implement. You have some great suggestions and have tweaked my frame of mind. Thanks again. : )

  4. Yes, yes, yes! I’m an editor and writer by profession, and I can’t agree with this enough. Although it’s always difficult to let the Inventor have her turn brainstorming a new project when you have three others in the writing stage, waiting to be finished.

  5. Oh, Martin, you have explained to me what is going on inside my brain!

    –The constant forgetting that wonderful idea because of not pulling over to jot it down (and pulling over can be pulling away from writing, from raking leaves, etc.)
    –The inclination to prefer handwriting, which I thought was because of the pencil, but may be because of the margins and the ease of just leaving a blank or even a caret, for later.
    –The eternal finding one more typo, or one more better word, AFTER the piece is published, probably because of editing immediately instead of waiting, eh?
    –Constantly thinking of the perfect topic while showering!

    I can nail this now. Thanks so much!

  6. Great post! I think we all could probably do better at not mixing these three into a blur – well, I know I can! Sometimes I feel like the annoying little sister bursting into the writing room wanting to read and analyze what has been written before it is time.

    Following this system (most of the time) has definitely increased my writing speed and stopped the ‘taking it out, adding it back in’ syndrome I was often drowning in. Now that I edit when it is time it is a much more cohesive and streamlined process.

    Thank you for the post!

  7. Hey Martian,

    This was a huge help, Seriously!
    The very timely reminder, i needed it badly. I have to finish my ebook, but my mr. big nose editor wasn’t letting my writer create relaxingly. And here, i was wondering what to do, the update from Danny about the post pitched in, and here I’m ready to dump away my editor for some time and just knock over the writing part!

    Thanks once more!
    And well, I just dared to follow you. 😀

  8. VERY helpful and I’m posting a reminder on my computer to slap my hands when I begin to interrupt the parts and push through all at once! I have fought myself on this way too long… sort of on the stubborn side about wanting everything to come out “perfect” the first time! Yikes…what a nightmare that creates! Thanks for this Martin!

  9. Hello,

    First of all I’d like to thank you for sharing such a wonderful post, secondly it’s really important to speed up the writing skills so that we could write even more and do better on our blog.

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Really enjoyed this post. As a blogger, journo/screenwriter these are the same techniques I’ve been using for years but I’ve never seen them articulated in the ‘three hats’ form. The only difference is that I use my ‘inventor’ stage to let ideas marinade, and I like to take my time with that so 10 minutes might feel rushed sometimes. That said, there’s a lot to be said for setting timers to help focus your energy and increase your output. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

    • Babes about town… you don’t mean… No sorry, never mind :D, just looked at your site. That looks really good, I must say, you’re doing a few things very right there.

      On topic:
      10 minutes is something that happens a few times a week for me *when writing my daily email to my list*. That’s just a matter of training and of being constantly a-simmer with ideas, and taking notes throughout the day.

      A quick look at that list of notes and half-drafts is enough to spark an idea, and then it’s a matter of minutes to have a narrative plotted out in my mind.

      Note to anyone struggling with the idea phase: Your problem is you start writing too soon. Give it more time, let the idea, the plan, simmer a bit and THEN start drafting.

      Use the rule of three: resist the urge to start writing three times, and only then give in. That should help (helps me, anyway 🙂

      Man, now I have ideas for another three guest posts.

      Danny, you game?

  11. Hi Martin

    this is the first time I’ve come across this process and I must say, as someone who generally dislikes writing, this really makes sense to me.

    I can see how you clearly separate all the component parts which then enables you to just focus on the job at hand.

    Bringing it all together to create the final piece now seems, for me at least, something more achievable – I’ll definitely be giving it a try!

    Thanks.

  12. Hey Maurice,

    So glad to hear it – nobody should dislike writing – for one thing because every business needs it and more writing = more sales, but also because really, writing shouldn’t be all that hard.

    You just need to use a method and strategy that works. Hope this one turns out to work for you.

  13. Hi Martin.

    I just wanted to say thank you for your post on writing faster. I love the idea of the three personas – and how they can seriously interrupt the writing process if it is not their turn!

    I used what you wrote for my blog writing this morning and had the main content done in 30 minutes! Then I got on to the rest of my todos for the morning – which I did not think would happen as it normally takes me all morning to write my blog. I will revisit the content with “the Editor” tomorrow as you suggested. I am very excited about how this will help me each time I sit down to write! Thank you again!

  14. Hi Martin,
    As I was reading your post, my Inventor was saying “post a comment. Tell him how much you enjoyed this piece”. As I started to type this, my Editor and Writer started to squabble over the delete key. Wow, I’d never noticed that before and boy does it slow you down! Thank you for one of the most brilliant, yet simple writing techniques that I now can’t wait to put into practice (back off Editor, you’ll get your turn).

  15. Hi, Martin:

    Great advice. Learning a writing process was the best thing ever happened to my passion. In fact, the more we can break down the process the easier it goes. I’d like to encourage all the scribes out there to practice the inventive phase. It’s something we can do anywhere, anytime. Make it a habit. Hey, where the hell were you 30 years ago. Ya done good! Thanks.

  16. Hmm, hmm I’ll try this approach, why not?
    Martin did you really measured it increse the speed of producing the content? I mean, well, it’s cool to write 2 times faster, but if you then edit out 50% the result in terms of time investment is exactly the same…

    I like the cooperation of my writer and editor at the same time, because the editor is not too pesky. I know I’ll go through the content once more, so I don’t eliminate typos, I’m focusing more on extracting the sense from what is created while writing.

    • In your case, it seems you don’t have the same problem most people have – that of returning to fix typos etc.

      Most of my writing these days is two to three times faster than before. Sometimes much more than that.

      I see your point about time lost in editing, but for me it’s absolutely worth it.

      For one thing, editing becomes a matter mostly of deleting the mess around the gems. Since I write fast I write long drafts, which means I’m not afraid to radically delete stuff: I always end up with the essence of what the inventor and the writer tried to cook up.

  17. Thanks Martin! It reminds me of Edward de Bono’s six hats. I love your analogy of “filling the brain” and then “squeezing the brain”. Everything goes in, gets mixed around, and then you never know what’s going to get squeezed out.
    I usually only manage to write a sentence before the editor steps in. Wouldn’t it be great if the words went invisible as soon as you’d written them, and you could only see them at the end of your allotted writing time. I feel an app coming on…

    • Welcome, Jeremy.

      I found that in Carlos Ruiz Zafon – filling the brain and squeezing the brain. It’s a really great approach for me 🙂

      You don’t need an app, btw. Sometimes when I’m having difficulty writing, I’ll turn off my monitor and just write in the blind.

  18. This just makes complete sense (common sense). A big problem of mine is ‘perfecting’ my writing as I go. This crushes my creative flow, and takes way too long……… (Yes, I know).
    I’m going to take these steps to heart and incorporate them as soon as today. I know they will help!! Thanks a million………

  19. Thank you for the great writing advice! I enjoy writing but have been frustrated with how long it takes me to write a polished piece. I have never considered that I needed the inventor hat, but I think it might be the key to improving my process. My deadlines are often very tight and get me frazzled, which has meant diving straight into the writing and editing phases in an attempt to produce something fast. I think that building in inventor time at the beginning will help focus my thoughts and guide me to the essence of what I want to say faster. Also, the process of allowing myself to just write and then just edit sounds a lot more focused than my current frantic writing style. Grateful!

    • Sounds like it could do you a world of good.
      As for taking a shortcut, doing writing and editing at the same time: In the end that usually takes more time than you try to save by taking a shortcut.

  20. Thank you for the great advice Martin! Wow, I just love this post! I’ve heard to just write and not worry about editing until later, but I’ve never seen it explained as “wearing three hats.” It makes so much sense!
    I have found that I really love writing, but I always seem to take a lot longer than I plan to write a new post. Now, after reading this I can see why. My editor won’t leave the writer alone! I find myself constantly fixing as I’m writing. I just did it again in fact, lol.
    Oh, it’s going to be hard to keep that pushy editor out of the way until it’s time, but I’m going to try. No more hitting the backspace or delete when I’m wearing my writing hat! Thanks again!

  21. Thanks, Martin – this was great! I never thought to break the writing process into personas like that. I tried your suggestions and it really does work! (Except it’s really REALLY hard for my Editor to keep her nose out of everyone else’s business.) 🙂

  22. I’ve heard the concept before, but never so clearly put.

    My writer and editor usually pass things back and forth a few times before both are happy with the result. They get along pretty well & can collaborate on the developmental edit.

    For the copy edit, I do need at least 24 hours. Otherwise I see what I knew I wrote. After a day or two I see the ambiguities.

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  24. I’m late to this party, but I HAD to say, great advice and thanks! It reminds me of what Anne Lamott calls the “shitty first draft” (with apologize to my priest and my mom). You commit to the writing, knowing you’ll clean it up later. I like the commenter’s idea about putting a tack on the backspace key! I sometimes find it difficult not to be discouraged by all the tripe I’ve typed, so I make liberal use of the return key…I’m not deleting those words/phrases/sentences (they can be great to borrow from as the writing starts flowing), but I’m moving them out of the way so that the better stuff can come.

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