In general, I’m not a big fan of super-fast writing. I’ll spend hours tweaking my Web writing, making sure that it meets my specific definition of perfection. Yeah, that may be overly obsessive. That’s just how I roll.
However, there are times when even I write the quick and dirty blog post. Maybe it’s because I’m blogging from the plane, and I have a half hour before the captain gives her “power down” warning. Or maybe it’s because I’m timing myself, seeing what efficiencies I can build into my writing.
Or maybe because I want to watch the hockey game on live TV for once – and I really need to finish work before I can play.
If you know you have 30 minutes or less to write a blog post, you can make it happen. It won’t be perfect, but it will be “good enough.” Here’s how you do it:
Before you begin:
- Gather your materials. There is no bigger time suck than looking for your background notes while you’re trying to write. Before you start your Web writing project, have everything you need easily accessible. That means, you have your keyphrase research in front of you, you have any applicable sites loaded and ready to surf and you have your notes front and center. If you have to bounce between checking email, looking for your keyphrase list and writing, you’ll never finish on time.
- Plan your topic carefully. Opinion pieces make great quick and dirty blog posts – because you’re passionate about the topic the writing tends to naturally flow. Quick how-to pieces are also good. Long, in-depth posts won’t work unless you are a very fast writer.
- Figure out how much time you’ll have to plan, write and proof your work. As a bare-minimum guide, I would give yourself at least five minutes to plan and outline your post, 20 minutes to write it and five minutes to proof and tweak. And yes – the planning phase is crucial. When we’re under time pressure, a blank page can instill the worse kind of writer’s block. Having a quickie outline will help jump start your efforts.
- Do something to cover up your computer clock. Ever have a sleepless night where your clock becomes your worst enemy? You roll over and think, “It’s 2:30. If I sleep now, I’ll have at least four hours.” Then, “Crap, I only have two more hours before I have to get up!” It’s the same thing when you’re forced to write fast. If you stay overly-conscious of the time, your focus will tick away with the seconds.
After you start writing:
- Do not multitask. At all. It’s uncomfortable to sit and focus for 20+ minutes at a time. I get it. Do it anyway. Every second counts.
- Don’t let yourself get stuck. Did you lose your train of thought halfway into a sentence? Start another sentence. Begin writing the third bullet point first if that’s what gets your creative juices jiving. It’s all about what keeps you in the flow and moving along.
- Keep your inner Web writing editor at bay. You may be tempted to go back and tweak a sentence. That’s great if you have time – but if not, make the sentence “good enough” and keep moving. That’s why you built in additional proofing/tweaking time at the end.
When you finish:
- Always proof your work. Always. It may be tempting to spend an additional five minutes squeezing out a few additional words. The downside is, you’ll probably miss a couple big typos that will make your blog post look like it was hastily written. OK, yeah, it was hastily written. But it doesn’t have to look like it!
- If you see an opportunity to improve your copy, go for it. I’ll often see a place where I could change the verbiage and make the writing a tad more dynamic. If you can easily make a value-added tweak – do it. If your minor tweak turns into a major blog post reconstruction, let it go.
- If you have the freedom to let it sit before you post – keep your post as a draft. Once you come back to your writing, you may notice some places where a few edits can completely transform the piece. Whenever possible, I like to “sleep” on a post and review it the next morning. It’s amazing how many value-added edits I make when I’ve taken a break and reviewed the post with fresh eyes.
As a caveat, I wouldn’t try this “fast Web writing” technique on a sales page. Your conversion flow is too crucial, and hastily-written sales pages don’t leverage every online writing opportunity. If you’re feeling too time-crunched to write a sales page, consider outsourcing it. Yes, it will cost you money – but it’s better than writing a so-so sales page.
What about you? What are your favorite fast-writing tips?