A Blogging Technique That Will Cut Your Writing Time in Half

A Blogging Technique That Will Cut Your Writing Time in Half

Do you find it takes ages to write your blog posts? If you’re writing slow, it can make you wonder how anyone makes a living at this.

I write a lot of blog posts. At one point in my freelance career, I was writing 70 posts a month, between my own blog and various freelance clients.

I’m a real perfectionist, too — I don’t submit typos and need everything to flow beautifully and be powerfully insightful and all that, every time.

Needless to say, I had to figure out how to crank these wonderful blog posts out quick if I wanted time to eat, sleep, or wash my hair.

At first, it was taking way too long to write all these posts. I’d polish and polish my draft, and then come back the next day to give it one more round of tweaking.

This made for a lot of long, late nights.

Then I hit on a technique that cut the writing time way down. It works well with any type of writing, too, not just blog posts.

All it requires is a little bit of planning — you can’t use this if you wait until an hour before your deadline to start writing.

Here’s how it works:

Outline with inspiration

When you have the idea for a post or article, quickly write down a few notes about the points you want to cover. Don’t worry about the order or whether you’re spelling it right or anything. Capture your inspiration and get your idea down. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it!)

Just create your quickie outline. Now, hang onto it for the day you’re going to write this post.

Jot a draft

Next, it’s time to write a first draft. Where I was running into trouble — and think I’m not alone here — was trying to turn this into a final draft in one sitting.

Big mistake.

Instead, I learned to write a rough first draft on this first writing day. Once through and that is all.

Try not to take breaks. Just let it flow out, ideally in one quick session. I take maybe an hour at most for this, usually less.

If your post includes interviews or online research, take one quick scan through your notes to make sure quotes are accurate and names are spelled right.

Trying to buff this into the final draft right away wastes a ton of time.

First off, you’re too close to it because you just created it. This tends to lead to a lot of second-guessing and excessive rewriting, changing a word or phrase and then changing it back, or moving a paragraph and then putting it back… that sort of thing.

Also, our attention tends to wane after an hour or so focused on a single project, so you mentally tire and it gets harder and harder to make the post what you want.

Which leads to the insecurity that causes me to polish it yet again the next day.

So I stopped trying to instantly turn my first draft into the final.

Instead, I leave it alone for at least one day.

Polish and publish

Now, it’s time to finalize your piece. Make sure every paragraph starts strong and leads logically from the previous one. See if all the points are in the ideal order.

Check that the headline has relevant key words for getting the piece found by readers using search engines to look for information.

Scrutinize the lead sentence and paragraph to make sure they’re compelling and make readers want to read the rest of the post. Fill out tags, titles, excerpts and other SEO helpers.

Coming back the second day, your mind is fresh and it’s easy to see the trouble spots.

Once you get used to doing a second-day polish, set a timer to limit how long you will spend polishing it up. Usually a half-hour will do it for me.

Now, your post is ready to turn in.

Avoid filer’s remorse

Once your post is published on your blog or turned in to the client, let it go. We could all re-read these published posts and find something to change in them. Especially on your own blog, resist the urge to tinker further.

Instead, move on to sketch out the outline of the next post, and you’ll be on your way to write your next quick post.

How do you get your writing done fast? Leave a comment and give us your best tip!

Filed Under: Blogging
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23 comments

  • Elke Feuer says:

    Great tips, Carol! I have a very similiar system. I have 5 blog themes that I rotate between. I have a journal to record blog ideas by theme so I can jot down as they come to me.

    I use a monthly calendar to schedule what blogs I’m going to write for the month, or quarter. I start writing a new blog every day and tweak it a little each day until it’s ready and then schedule it, forget it and move on to the next blog post. I currently blog once a week so I can concentrate on writing my books, but I want to explore other writing avenues, and will need to write faster in order to do that. Will check out your book on how to write faster. Thanks!

  • How do I get my writing done fast? The answer is I don’t.

    I double-check, edit, faff, tinker, tweak and fiddle with every sentence as I go along.

    I’m even doing it now, as I write.

    So thanks ever so much for this post, Carol. You’ve given me some kind formula I can work to.

    It’s going to be pretty hard to kick the habit. But, of course, we’re not just talking time here. We’re talking money.

  • Carol,

    It’s almost like you’re looking at what’s sitting at the side of my desk! I am finding this is the only way I can work, since I also freelance. I keep writing notes about subjects I want to blog about and add more notes until I am ready to sit down and write it. And sometimes it changes or some content gets worked into another story. I don’t think I have your speed down yet, but I appreciate your suggestions, since I have been doing the one-two approach and it’s taking me the good part of a day. I’ll try the one-two-three-and-we’re-out (in a good way) approach on the next one!

    Ceejae

  • I’m so excited to hear that this system works so well for you! This is exactly what I did today! I quickly made a brief outline of the thoughts I wanted to include in my post. Then I wrote the rough draft, straight through — something I’ve learned to do so I don’t break my train of thought. Tomorrow I will revisit the article and proofread it, make changes, add pictures, and publish it! I thought this felt like a better system than what I was doing, trying to do it all in one day. Now I have your confirmation that this will lead to more success and less time spent on each article. Thank you!

  • “Jot a draft” –Yep. I used edit and research in the middle of writing, and the practice killed my productivity and hourly rate. Now I just type up a draft and come back to it with fresh eyes.

    I’m still trying to get over filer’s remorse though.

  • Steph says:

    Great advice from Carol, as always. I just love her no-BS approach to writing.

  • Thanks, Carol, for this awesome, easy to follow, how-to guide. It’s a great guideline for not only writing faster, but really, turning pro. I love the outline approach. I’m guilty of the write-it-all-in-one-sitting MO, and I know it’s not doing anyone any favors.

    • I used to feel COMPELLED to sit there until I thought it was done. Then, I’d always be back the next day to tinker with it some more!

      Once I cut the same-day buffing out, I realized the posts were even better, too — you have better perspective on how to cut and what needs adding the next day.

  • Anne B. says:

    Great advice! I did that today, and I am a firm believer in using a timer. Otherwise smoke starts to come out of my ears. Really!
    Thanks for this.

  • Rochelle says:

    I mind map out my post when I’m initially thinking of it and then when I sit down to write it I can get it out quick. I definitely have to come back the next day, or several hours later to fix it and add in the extras (links, pics, and extras). My issue is once I set it to publish letting it go. I’ll have to work on that. A few times I have wanted to tweak something in my post that was published today. I just have to let it go, it’s not an error, it’s just perfectionism.

  • Allison says:

    Thanks I really loved this post, it is exactly what I needed to learn. As a relatively new blogger I can rewrite a post a zillion times. With this information, I’m sure my blogging time will be reduced. Thanks.

  • Angie S. says:

    Thanks so much for these pointers. I tend to avoid posting on my blog, as it takes up so much time (doing it all right in one sitting). I’ll have to try your suggestions.

  • Penelope says:

    Boy, do I need this! I’ve been working on this blog post for a week–and getting kind of sick of it! No, just kidding. I’ve been searching for pictures and they need to go in just the right spots, and the keywords need to be just right, and the tags, and the meta, and oh… what the heck.

    It’s getting posted tomorrow rain or shine! And next time, I’m trying your method, Carol. 😉

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  • Claire says:

    I completely agree with you, Carol. When aiming to write a final draft in one sitting, there can be a lot of pressure to achieve perfection straight away; causing a lot of time to be wasted in thinking too much before each sentence.

    When writing a rough draft, that pressure dissipates and I find that my writing just flows. With knowing that it is ‘only a rough draft’, I’m often surprised that this actually results in a confident, natural piece of writing which needs only a few tweaks here and there!

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