Tuesday, September 4, 2018

How To Write As Fast As You Type

How To Write As Fast As You Type? Well, Writing Isn't The Same As Typing. 


Yes, you read that right. Writing isn't the same as typing. Bit of a misleading title, eh? But wait, we might yet address the topic. Some people are gifted writers while others have honed their skills over years by consistently churning out content on varied topics. Neither scenario turns them into content creation mills capable of writing 10,000 words a day with perfect grammar, syntax, and factual accuracy. And definitely not on 20 different topics with SEO factored in. 

On the surface, it might seem easy to write an article on a given topic if you know a lot about it, but 9 out of 10 people will be stuck at the first sentence once they sit down with a pen and paper, or a laptop/notepad as the case may be. 

Writing a coherent piece requires creativity, focus, a rudimentary understanding of the topic at the very least, and decent writing skills. An article with a proper introduction,  that's seamlessly followed by the body, and ends with a logical conclusion, does not just fall into place by magic. You could trudge through reams of information on a given topic, but to condense it down to a required 'x' no. words, that need to address all the points requested by a client, adhere to good SEO guidelines, while employing language targeted at a specific set of audience, is no mean feat. Those who say otherwise, neither understand writing nor have a clue about good content. 

Having said that, as a freelancer, especially when you are starting out, you will not always have the luxury of creating content at leisure. More often than not, you'll be writing for some content mill that pays a pittance but expects top notch content in the range of 6000 to 8000 words per day. Grinding  mental gears at a content mill is an average freelancer's rite of passage.

So, how can you write as fast as you type? You can't. What you can do instead is optimise your daily output by following a few simple rules. Let's begin with an unusual one.

1. Think Less, Write More

Unlike a certain PatRoth who would say 'Write less, revise more', when you're writing for peanuts, time is a luxury and spending a day trying to gather information on a topic before you can sit down to write about it isn't the best approach. You can do both simultaneously. 

Jot down your thoughts as they come, even as you are doing your research. If you're going to read 10 different research papers to write that one article, write as you read. If you come across an idea you're going to expound on, just make a note of it right away with the link to the page and the paragraph no. for easy reference later. 

Even if your sentences aren't coherent or the flow is off, what you're doing is getting all the content - the actual content that will be included in the article, and not just information that you'll process later - in one place, besides saving yourself the time required to read through the same papers again when you actually sit down to write. Now you already have a good portion of the article covered. The body is ready. Which leads us to... 

2. Body Before Introduction 

Beginning an article with the perfect introduction is quite a stumbling block. One could easily get stuck thinking of different ways to begin the article, writing and rewriting perfectly viable introductory paragraphs just to hit the right tone. Instead of wasting hours of hard work, you can simply skip this task and revisit it later. 

Speaking from experience, when the body of the article is in place, the introduction writes itself. One simply needs the right words to segue into the first paragraph of the body. Much easier than starting with a vague idea of an article that will be composed later. 

3. Clear And Crisp Conclusion 

What writer doesn’t like finishing an article with a flourish? The kind that’s racing against time to deliver before a deadline. Even so, one would like to end on a conclusive note so the reader doesn’t feel like the article ended abruptly, or went off on a completely different tangent.

If you're struggling with this portion of the write-up, save yourself some agony as well as time by writing down the three most important points made in the article, shorten them to fit in a sentence, cobble together these sentences. Voila! That's your ending. 

4. Structural Short-Cuts 

Frequently going overboard with the word count? Find yourself rambling on and on to kingdom come? Yes, you can write a book on this topic, but you’re only being paid for 500 words. Don’t write a 1000 words article and then waste more time whittling it down to the given word count. 

Create a standard template, stick to it. Here’s the simplest template to follow: 

1. Introduction: Skip this for later as once you have a body, the introduction and conclusion will be easier to edit or write from scratch. 

2. Body

The moment you think of a point to write about, create a paragraph heading. Elaborate on it as and when you come across more information. Here's how:

a. Point A - Fill this in 
b. Point B - Fill this in 
c. Point X - Ditto 

Don’t worry about the order of these points, you can sort them out later. 

Keep a tab on the word count after every point you’ve made. If you're approaching the target count, there’s no need to keep looking for more points, just stop. If you have 10 more points to go on about, write another article on the topic and charge it separately. Briefly touch upon the issues that couldn’t be addressed in the article due to limited scope.

3. Conclusion: Don’t spend too long trying to make a mark, just summarise the points made in the article and be done with it. 

5. Editing And Final Touches

Do not edit an article as soon as you’ve finished writing it. The text is fresh in your mind so when you read it, you are more likely to read it from memory rather than paying attention to the glaring mistakes, editorial or otherwise. Instead, give it a once over and correct the mistakes that you do notice, then move on to writing the next article. Once you’re done with all the topics on hand, revisit them in order.

Now when you sit down to edit it, you’ll be approaching it as a reader, not as the one who wrote it, and any mistakes that escaped your attention the first time around will stand out on closer inspection. And that’s how you turn in work that’s rarely, if ever, sent back for editing. 

These little writing hacks will drastically bring down the time spent on writing an article, adding up to a good few hours saved per day. You can take this time to read, hunt for writing gigs with better pay, or just relax. 

To reiterate: 
Avoid getting stuck at the introduction or the conclusion phase; both require a higher degree of creativity. As you get more attuned to the topic at hand, verses will flow more easily. Take notes when you are reading up for research or you will find yourself re-reading the same books, magazines, research papers, etc., more than once - that's a huge time sink. The more you write, the easier it gets to break down the topics into easily fleshed out sub-topics and paragraphs.

If you find yourself dawdling over a particular topic, move on to something else. Take a break and approach it after a few hours with a fresh perspective. Saves you unnecessary anguish and makes the process less tedious. Editing your write-up a few hours after you've finished writing it will save you the hassle of working on it again. 

Try not to pick up too many projects that do not spark your interest. While that may not always be possible, make sure you have something in your kitty that you look forward to writing about. That way you can tackle the uninteresting topics first and get to the nicer ones later as a reward for finishing the boring ones on time. 

You will get more efficient with time and experience. You might even master the art of using split windows, reading from one and typing in the other, in your own words of course - no plagiarism, thereby writing almost as fast as you type! "Almost" being the operative word here. 

Word Count: 1445
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Web researcher and creative writer well versed in SEO, data collection, collation, and analysis. Prompt communication, punctual with deadlines, professional in my dealings, deliver what I promise, and provide a hassle-free experience.

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