Mastering the ability to write at a faster speed is essential to earning more.
Many writers, though fully aware that time spent agonizing over each sentence would be better spent on pitching clients, research, marketing and getting more writing in, are held captive by their perfectionism. Perfectionism may cramp productivity and earning potential, but it isn’t a curse without a cure. Neither are the distractions and blockages that inevitably arise throughout the writing process.
Becoming a faster writer faster doesn’t happen overnight, and isn’t a result of simply about cranking up the speed but rather applying proven methods and strategies that add up to make a real difference. In this three-part series, I’ll deconstruct the art of making the most of your time and getting the creative juices flowing faster. It all starts with a little thing I like to call “ritual.”
The Power of Ritual
Maya Angelou would start writing each day at 7 am, in a local hotel room containing only a dictionary, a Bible, set of cards and a bottle of sherry. Vladimir Nabokov wrote entire novels on index cards so he could easily shuffle entire chapters. Jack Kerouac once described a ritual where he would light a candle and blow it out when he was finished for the night.
The daily rituals of famous writers have always elicited fascination, and you can set yourself up for success in a similar fashion. Take a cue from the best by consciously dictating your own circumstances.
Of course, only you know what this means for you. When was the last time you were writing from a space of full flow? You know the place I’m talking about– that rare vortex where distractions are nonexistent, where nothing stands between your subconscious and the perfect prose pirouetting onto the screen.
Yup, that’s the place I’m talking about. The better you understand your unique preferences and motivators, the better you’ll be able to put yourself in the right place for deep focus and steer clear of factors that throw you off. Consider the following…
- In what environment do you feel most centered and creative?
- Do you prefer to burn the midnight oil, or do creative fireworks bombard you bright and early?
- How many hours of work is the sweet spot for you to feel productive, and how many till you’re simply burned out?
- Do you need coffee or tea by your side? What kind of meals fuel you rather than deplete you?
- Is your work space uncluttered and filled with things that make you feel relaxed and inspired?
- What are your biggest procrastination pitfalls?
- Is social media sinking it’s wildly distracting hooks in you, or is it your family’s ongoing group text that’s the bigger issue? How are you going to tackle these issues?
- How can you reward yourself for achieving your goals?
Experiment with these ideas for a couple of weeks, and record in a journal what’s working and what isn’t. Your writing ritual isn’t meant to be rigid but rather a flexible and fluid friend that gently guides you to a space of productivity. Not only will you be able to write faster when you take these elements into your own hands in a more proactive way, but you’ll actually enjoy yourself along the way. There’s always going to be a new deadline or big goal to meet, so why not take pleasure in the journey?
Infuse Your Ritual with Time-Saving Tools
As you begin to carve out your own unique ritual, you should also incorporate the plethora of tools that exist to help you.
For as many distractions as the Internet offers, there’s an equal number of tools that can actually improve your productivity. Do a little research to see if a tool exists to help with your particular pain point. There are literally thousands out there, but here are a few on my personal radar…
- Words-to-use.com: a thesaurus which groups subject-related words.
- OTranscribe: a lifesaver for transcribing videos, allowing you to write on the same screen and slow down the speed.
- Text Expander: a tool that expands custom keyboard shortcuts into frequently used text.
- HemingwayApp.com: an app that tells you where to simplify your writing (before your editor does!)
- 750words.com: a website which encourages daily flow-of-consciousness entries to clear your mind and spark creativity.
Ambient music or white noise is another miracle-worker for concentration that should be added to your arsenal. While total silence is sometimes too loud (you know what I mean!), lyrics can derail your train of thought. And of course, the sound of the clock ticking as your deadline looms isn’t exactly comforting.
Background noise blocks these distractions out and nudges you into a mesmerizing creative flow. A few of my favorites are…
- Rainyscope: the subtle nuances of each season’s unique rainfall, all captured on one awesome website.
- A Soft Murmur: this website has all the good stuff, like thunder, waves, fire, singing bowls, and even the choice to combine all the sounds for your own personalized mix.
- SnowyEscape: this website satisfies winter-lovers with the calming sounds of crackling campfire and falling snow.
- Mynoise.net: a website that contains every sound under the sun.
Hopefully, this post has inspired you to set yourself up for greater success by creating the right writing environment. In next week’s post, I’ll explore the time-saving value of outlines and my personal favorite productivity hack: the Pomerado technique.
Until next time–what is your unique writing ritual? What are your favorite apps, tools or writing playlists? Let me know in the comments below!
Hannah Chenoweth is a conference producer and freelance writer based in Hoboken, NJ. She is a passionate storyteller who also also enjoys reading, yoga, travel, roadtrips, meeting new people, and adventures. Feel free to check out her past work at https://www.clippings.me/hannahchenoweth/ or say hi on Twitter @hannahchen2!