How to Supercharge Your Writing Time in 4 Easy Steps
Ever find yourself sitting at your computer in the wee hours of the morning with a deadline staring you in the face?
You’ve got to bang out 500 crisp, clear words by 7AM. It’s 5AM now — and you’re at a total loss about how to wrap this mess up so it makes enough sense to read, much less publish.
You don’t want to settle. You want the edge, that one insight that sets you apart from the crowd. Why say the same thing others have said when you can do better?
Instead you’re stuck going down rabbit trails, checking email, and making sure your Facebook friends don’t forget you.
Maybe you just need more coffee. Yeah, that’s it. Or maybe a nap. Oh, that sounds so good right now. You’ve burned all the midnight oil in your lamp and all you’ve got left is a short wick.
It doesn’t have to be this way…
What if there was a better way than endless drafts and countless rewrites?
What if you could take a deep dive into your topic and pull out the aha insights every time?
Could you write more? Would you have more confidence? Would you be able to take on more projects, bigger challenges, and charge more for your expertise?
You can. I know because I’ve done it. The four steps I’ll share with you today are steps I’ve been using for years. I’ve tested and tried lots of writing methods but these 4 steps stand out when I’ve got big challenges to tackle and impending deadlines to meet.
This process is comprehensive, taking you from raw idea to published piece. I use this for blog posts, but if you’re working on a book the same process applies to every chapter.
Now get ready to kiss your detours and roadblocks goodbye. Let’s milk your writing time so that every minute counts!
Step One: Hunt and gather ideas
Before we had grocery stores on every corner, we had to hunt if we wanted to grill out for dinner.
Ideas may come to you. If so, that’s great! But that’s not always the case. So how do you find an idea that has your name on it?
First, open your eyes.
Sometimes I walk in my yard. I leave my smartphone on the kitchen counter. I let my mind go where it will. I’ll think about what I did this week. I’ll look at the trees as I pass them, noticing how the branches curve and connect like a tapestry God painted on the sky. I’ll ask all the questions I fear would bore the people I rub elbows with.
You never know what will come when you let your mind wander, unfettered by technology.
Two, write it down.
I exercise my writing muscles every morning with a half hour free write. It’s easy to do. You set a timer or a word count target. You write continuously, in a free flowing stream of consciousness. Don’t worry about quality or whether your ideas make sense. Just get it on paper so you can see it later.
Three, thrash early.
The reason we suffer through endless rewrites is we don’t stop thrashing.
The time to change your mind is early. When your idea is raw, you’re a potter. You shape it, analyze it, and reshape it. After a reasonable amount of time, you stop.
The secret to making art is not perfection; it’s knowing when to stop.
Step Two: Narrow your focus
Once you have an idea that grabs you, it’s time to get it ready for market.
You do that by narrowing it to one sentence.
You expand it by proving it three ways. Here are a few:
- A story that illustrates how (and why) it works
- Data that relates to something your reader feels deeply
- Detailing the process so readers can apply your insight quickly and easily
When you focus early, you won’t waste valuable time going down needless rabbit trails. You’ll dive deeper because you’ll have one main focus to guide you. And you’ll prove it better by hammering it home three ways.
If your project has a prescribed format, honor it. But remember, you still have to engage and persuade the reader. Make your prose seem like a warm talk over coffee, even if your subject is rocket science.
Ask questions. Lots of them. One of the answers might lead to an insight you can share first. That will immediately raise your status and help you become the go-to expert in your field.
Step Three: Write a quick draft
The main reason writing is hard is we’re not prepared well enough.
If you followed the first two steps, writing will be easy. You know your main point. You know how you’ll prove it. Now all you have to do is put it into words.
It’s like driving on autopilot. You have a map right in front of you. All you have to do is listen to the prompts, make the right turns, and before you know it, you’re there!
When it’s time to edit, all you have to do is clean things up a bit.
Step 4: Polish and publish
Thrashing time ended two steps ago. Now you’ll check for typos, awkward sentences, and verbal clutter.
The easiest way by far to accomplish this in one swipe is to read your work aloud. If you have a robot reader built into your phone, even better. It’ll catch all your missed words and let you know if your tone is conversational or stiff.
If you get a new idea at the very last minute, ask yourself:
- Will this improve my existing argument? If so, add it.
- Does this idea deserve its own treatment? If so, save it for another piece.
One post, one book, or one speech can’t cover everything.
Stop when you should, and share your wisdom. Your readers are waiting.
Bonus tip: Divide the steps into separate sessions
You may not always have 3 hours you can work without interruptions.
Do one task per session. You’ll do it better. You won’t burn out. And you can take advantage of the time between to nurture your idea further.
You can even use chunks of time throughout the day to get your work done. A little here and there can add up to a lot somewhere.
I’d love to hear how these tips work for you. Happy Writing, and may your focus be sharper than ever!