Starting a blog for the first time is no easy task. As a new blogger, you might be anxious and intimidated.
It seems like other writers can pump out post after post without a second thought. How on earth do you compete with that?
You’re not alone.
My first blog post took me a day to write and I still hesitated when it came to publishing it.
Imposter syndrome is a real thing and feeling like your work isn’t good enough can slow down your drive to write more.
But there are plenty of ways you can work through this, without losing the passion that drove you to blog in the first place.
Let’s take a look at what you can do to write faster and with more confidence.
1. Start a writing habit
The easiest way to get into the swing of writing is to turn it into a daily habit.
Just like brushing your teeth and grabbing a morning coffee, showing up to write regularly becomes so familiar, you do it without a second thought.
One exercise you can start is by practising morning pages – making writing the first thing you do when you start the day.
Try this exercise:
In the morning when you wake up, sit down with a notebook or your laptop and start writing. What ends up on the page doesn’t have to make sense. Let the words that pop up in your head, flow onto the page.
Writing becomes muscle memory and like any other habit, the more you write, the quicker your words flow. You might even find that after a while, the words that come out start making sense!
2. Schedule your writing time
When the time comes to really sit down to write a blog post being organised saves a huge chunk of time.
The desire to get everything written all at once can be strong. Yet the problem with this is you’ll find yourself staring at the screen more than actually writing.
Inspiration isn’t one long stream of awesomeness. It comes and it goes in waves depending on your mood, environment and even how hungry you are.
The truth is, things will go much faster if you schedule chunks of time to write throughout the day when the conditions are as close to perfect as they can be.
Try this exercise:
Sit down with your calendar and think about the times of day you feel most productive. For me, it’s either the first half of the day or during the evening.
After you’ve had a heavy meal may not be the best time to write because you’ll feel sleepy and sluggish. In the same way, you don’t want to write when the kids have just got home from school and they’re demanding snacks and games.
On your calendar, choose the times of day when you’re least likely to:
- Be tired
- Get disturbed
- Be too hungry
- Are distracted
You don’t have to stick to this schedule. Keep things flexible. The whole point to this is to write in regular bursts to keep you interested and inspired.
3. Separate research and writing
Just like the previous advice about writing in bursts, it makes sense to detach your research time from the writing process.
Spending time researching and then jumping straight into writing doesn’t give your brain time to absorb the information you’ve learned fully.
Rapid task switching – going from one task to another in quick succession – can kill your productivity. It takes time for your brain to reorient to a new task and get focused.
The way I combat this is to do my research the day before I write an article. This provides me with enough time to gather and organise my notes.
Try this exercise:
Schedule research time into your calendar the day before you plan to write. Compile your notes, key talking points and references. A tool like Trello, Evernote or even a notebook is enough to get your ideas down.
The following day go back over your notes. See if you’ve missed anything. Fresh eyes and a rested mind is sharper and better able to pick up discrepancies. It will also familiarise yourself with the context of what you’re about to write.
Now get the words down.
4. Create outline blocks
Outline blocks are essentially the building blocks of your article or blog post. They’re the sections of writing that connect to each other to create a concise flow of words.
The simplest form of an outline is:
- Main content
But you can break this up further to make things faster and to fit into your writing schedule. For a typical blog post I carve up my outline into sections like this:
I then go through each section and add bullets of the main talking points. By the time I’m ready to flesh things out, the information is already there. It just needs some refining.
5. Tackle the easiest points first
With your outline in place, where should you begin fleshing the content out? If you’re new to writing, it can still feel daunting, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the topic in question.
Your best weapon here is to start with the easiest points first.
Try this exercise:
Scan through your outline and pick out points you feel confident about. They might be areas you feel you know enough about to write with ease.
Use these sections to start writing. The more confident you feel about a topic, the quicker it is to write about. You’ll likely find moving on to the next section is easier once you make a start.
6. Write the introduction and conclusion last
The introduction and conclusion of an article, introduce and summarise what you’re writing about.
The introduction draws the reader in and encourages them to continue through the article. While the conclusion, neatly rounds up the key talking points.
I always find writing these sections is faster if you leave them until the end. With all of your key content written, it’s easier to pick out the main areas of interest. It also helps with keeping the entire flow of your article consistent.
If you do them first, you’ve got nothing but your notes and research to go on. Your content could veer off into an unrelated direction, making the editing process harder when you’re done.
7. Write first, edit later
Speaking of editing, any writer you talk to will stress the importance of writing first and editing only when you’ve finished.
The temptation to tweak a word here and correct spellings there disturbs the flow of writing. And as you already know from earlier, disrupting your concentration, makes it harder for your brain to get back on track.
What’s more, every time you stop yourself to edit your work, you’re subconsciously telling yourself that your writing isn’t good enough. You can’t possibly make an honest decision about that if you haven’t even finished your draft.
Try this exercise:
If you find yourself stuck for the right word to write, insert an asterisk (*) and carry on writing. Once your first draft is finished and you’re ready to edit, you can replace it with an appropriate word.
The same goes for spellings too. When writing, ignore the red squiggle under any errors. You can tackle these at the end.
Even better, temporarily turn the spell check off. Your writing will go much quicker without those distractions.
8. Try dictation
If you still find yourself struggling to write after following the advice above, you’re in luck.
Consider trying to dictate your article instead. It might seem a bit alien at first but some people find expressing their thoughts audibly easier than writing them down.
With speech to text technology, your article could write itself in far less time than sitting down to manually type the words.
Doctors, Journalists and many other professionals use this technique to record their thoughts in a limited time-frame. So why shouldn’t you take advantage of it too?
A quick search reveals plenty of apps you can use on your smartphone for free. All that’s required afterwards is a solid period of editing.
9. Set yourself a deadline
Most people hate deadlines because it restricts their freedom and ability to choose. But counter to this, deadlines can help you write faster.
Deadlines create a sense of urgency that spurs you on to get the task done. Especially if you’re one of those people who hates being late for things.
It doesn’t have to be a delivery deadline either.
When I know I have to write fast, I do so on a semi-full bladder, with a goal of getting a certain piece of writing done before I have to relieve myself. The physical discomfort is a driving force towards my end goal.
Now, you don’t have to go to the extremes I do. A wonky chair, a cold room – anything that gives you a little discomfort can work effectively enough to make you write with more urgency.
Just remember to edit well after.
10. Step away from the desk
Finally, if your inspiration seems to be hiding in a hole in the ground – much like a starved hobbit – it might be time to take a long break.
Linking back into choosing your schedule wisely, sitting at your desk all day struggling over words that won’t flow, is neither helpful nor productive.
Step away from your desk and do something different. Go for a walk and change your scenery.
It’s even been noted that doing some of the simplest, mundane tasks like hanging out the laundry or washing dishes can be the perfect environment for nurturing creative thinking.
By entering an almost meditative state with daily tasks, it frees your mind to wonder and come up with solutions.
Final thoughts on writing faster
Writing, in general, is challenging work. Distractions are around every corner and more often than not, it will be a battle between sheer determination to write and your own ability to procrastinate.
Following some of the advice laid out here, will help you achieve a more harmonious and quicker workflow.
What’s more, you’ll end up publishing more blog posts and moving further down the path to a better blog.
Ready to get started?