Everything we’ve talked about up until this point has been focused towards getting you up to speed and teaching you how to write efficiently while maintaining a certain level of quality. All the same, sometimes even the best-laid plans go awry and you don’t exactly get the results you were looking for. That’s because, like everything, the techniques, tools, and strategies have to be practiced to become habitual. Once they are habitual, they can make you faster. So, here’s a plan to get you in the habit of becoming the smartest speed writer you can be.
Practice Makes Perfect
At first, you can just have a goal to do one 400 to 600-word article every 3 to 4 weeks. However, like any art that you are practicing, the more that you do it, the better that you get. It’s like flexing a muscle. You want to start building up some endurance to do more and more writing, even if you don’t have a particular subject in mind. You can free associate to get started just by writing whatever comes to your mind. By spending even just 15 minutes a day free associating, you can really open up vast areas of untapped creativity.
Try to get to the point where you are writing things every day, whether it’s just note taking, free-associating, or actual article writing. The trick is to engage that part of your brain on a regular Basis and that works to promote your creativity and inspiration.
Unless you’re a freelance writer you may not have a huge amount of time or opportunity to practice your writing skills. You will need to set aside time every week, at least 3 or 4 times a week, for however long you want to at the start. The key is to develop a habit of writing so that when you aren’t doing it, you actually feel like something is missing.
Time Sessions Carefully
To check the number of words that you’ve written, you can use the word count facility under the Tools menu in Microsoft Word. You may find that within one-half hour, you are able to write 400 to 500 words. That’s okay, but you should have a goal set for the number of words you want to write within the time period that you choose. So, if you want to increase it to 600 words and then try to beat your time every time you sit down to write, it can be a way to not only measure your progress, but also a fun game that can help spur you to write faster.
Otherwise, do start to time yourself at each session. The way you will measure your success is by noting the number of words that you can write for a set period of time. You can start with a one-half hour as a baseline, as that seems a short enough time for most people to handle. However, if you think that’s too much to start, you can try 15-minute segments of time until you build up to one-half hour.
If your intent is to increase your speed, then you need to have some way to measure that speed. Keep a clock or watch handy when you sit down to write. You should time yourself from the start of this program to the end, as you begin to implement and learn the techniques in this book. At first, while you are learning, it may actually take you a bit more time because of the learning curve. But, once you don’t have to go back and forth to look things up as you go along, you should begin to see an increase in the speed and the quality of your articles.
What’s nice about this approach is that sometimes you will beat your time and other times you’ll find yourself getting stuck in the process. Either way, you learn something from the experience. When you get stuck, you can go back to the areas that stumped you to see how you could have gotten through them faster. This will help you to refine your writing system so that it is customized for your particular writing issues.
This slow-down is especially true if you are implementing new software or learning a new way to do things using new tools. You have to take into account that although they will eventually speed up the process, to learn them takes a bit of time. So, if that’s the case, don’t start timing your sessions until after you have a good handle on the tools, so as not to discourage yourself.
Keep it Interesting
Not every assignment you get is going to curl your toes, but that doesn’t mean that the boring ones can’t be made more interesting. It’s just a fact of life that there are times when the topics you need to write about are dull or not in your area of excitement and fun. That’s when you can really use this system to liven things up and keep your brain motor humming.
The first thing you want to do when you get a topic that doesn’t light your fire is to do a frequency word list, as described in Chapter 5. This will help you start to brainstorm not only profitable areas of research and writing but also some that may be more interesting to you personally too. If you find some that immediately pop out at you as having some interest, use those to help you jump-start the writing process.
With those words in hand, you will go to the Google search engine and start to research on interesting facts and stories that can help you get engaged with the subject. Just remember to add the topic in quotes to get an exact match there and use the frequency word list in combination with that to expand your search results.