How I Use a Speed Writing Process to Triple My Output and Save Time

(Last Updated On: March 6, 2017)

Please welcome today’s guest, Laura Pennington, who runs the website Six Figure Writing Secrets. Like many of us, Laura balances multiple jobs and responsibilities. Today she is sharing her speed writing process, which you can use to improve your writing productivity. Check out her awesome tips below (I swear by #3)!

I have been a freelance writer since 2012, but throughout that freelance writing career I’ve also juggled a full-time job or a part-time PhD student schedule. The only way I keep things organized and stay on top of all my goals while still meeting deadlines is to use a speed writing process.

Over the years, I have continuously refined my process in order to deliver high-quality work to my clients on time. Without being organized and using a speed writing process I would easily fall behind and end up missing deadlines for my clients.

Here are my best tips for anyone who is a freelance writer, blogger or creates content on a regular basis.

1. Have A Process for Capturing Ideas

Whether it’s a note book where you write down various ideas that come to you while you are out at the grocery store, or a spreadsheet where you track news reports that are relevant for what you are writing about, you should always have a way to capture your ideas. Ideas often come to you at the time when it’s least convenient. It never seems to happen when you are sitting in front of your computer, so be prepared.

I love having Google Alerts send me news stories for particular keywords. This gives me a heads up when something I usually write about has been published on the internet. Even if you don’t end up using any of these exact sources for your piece, it can be a great way to spark creativity.

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For example, because I often write about freelancing and freelance writing tips, I have Google alerts set for “freelancing,” “freelancing study,” and “self-employed study.”

This alerts me to new trends in the industry and can spark ideas when I am running out of fodder for my blog.

2. Come Up with All of Your Ideas at Once

As a freelance writer, I have ongoing blogging contracts with the majority of my clients. This means that I am responsible for coming up with all of the ideas that go up on their blog. I come up with all the ideas at once by having a master spreadsheet of suggested titles and concepts as well as relevant news reports, studies and other details, such as frequently asked questions that readers might have.

I never create content for my own blog or for my clients until I have gathered several ideas and I can work on them all at once. Keeping my brain focused on this one task means that I am completely ready to write in the next stage.

3. Outline Your Posts

Pro-tip from Emily: I resisted outlining for months. It felt like an unnecessary step. But since I started outlining posts about 2 months ago, I spend half as much time writing posts AND my posts are more organized and easier to read. If you’re not already outlining, try it!

One of the ways that I capture a lot of content is by recording audio and then having it transcribed. Outlining my ideas first ensures that I cover all of my points.

You could also hire a virtual assistant. He or she could outline the main topics you should cover in any post so that you can gather the materials quickly.

He or she might also include links to relevant resources to help you when writing, which cuts out a major step of your process. I currently do all of my outlining myself and ask virtual assistants to step in when I am looking for a particular statistic or interesting fact.

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4. If You Get Stuck, Try Recording

It comes as no surprise that even extremely fast typists still speak faster than they can write. One tip I learned from a mentor was to record my voice when I got stuck. This way I would have ideas already on the page when the audio gets transcribed. I now record the majority of the content that I create. Then, I edit it once it’s already in typed form. This saves me a tremendous amount of time as well as carpal tunnel.

Using my outlining process above ensures that I stay organized and cover each of the points that I intend to include.

It might take some practice to get used to these methods, but it’s worth giving it a shot. Once you find a method that helps you streamline content creation, you’re unlikely to deviate from it.

What tips do you use to stay on top of content creation?

About Laura

Laura Pennington is a former Baltimore City teacher turned full-time freelancer. She now creates content for law firms and insurance agencies as a writer and teaches up-and-coming freelancers how to build sustainable lifestyle businesses from home. She blogs at Six Figure Writing Secrets.

You can also find Laura on Twitter and Facebook:
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  • Hey Laura,

    Love the tips. Like Emily I totally resistant using and outline but I found at least starting every post like it’s a list post helps.

    Laura for your voice recording do you also use Google Docs? That’s what I use. I have to slow my speech way down but for the most part it really works.

    Can’t wait to dive into your other articles. This one is already Pinned!

    • Another blogger friend told me that outlining also helps her come up with the subheadings for each post, which I thought was genius! As for voice recording, I tend to “think” better on paper (my thoughts are super scattered when I try to present orally), so I haven’t tried voice recording. Can’t wait to hear what Laura uses.

      And thanks for sharing on Pinterest! Much appreciated!

  • Great Tips! I’ve never thought about using Google Alerts for anything, but that’s a great idea! Outlining my posts is something I’ve recently (and reluctanly) started doing and I’ve been amazing at how much faster it is to write a single post now. Instead of a grueling 4 hour process, I can usually write a post in less than an hour now! Tweeting to share this with my followers 🙂

    • Outlining my posts and batching my work have by far been the two biggest time savers for me. I’ve started to enjoy outlining because it not only speeds up my writing process, but it also makes it less painful. :p It used to be so arduous to organize my thoughts and write a cohesive post, but the outlining helps my writing flow with less effort.

  • These are all great tips. Something I like to do is give myself permission to be “bad.” Procrastination comes out of wanting to be perfect. But when you want to be perfect, you end up not writing anything. So I write a “bad” draft that is a spewing of all my ideas at once. That is one draft. Then I outline and clean up from that draft. Then there is the fact-checking draft. Understand that you are not aiming for perfection, just the best draft you can create at the moment. This might be too many drafts for some people, but it’s the system that works best for me. Doing all the research ahead of time before you write is also helpful. Working on one task at a time is better for me than multitasking. Look forward to reading the other comments here.

    • Great tips Gena! I used to be a writing teacher and we would call the process of writing a first draft “building the monster.” It was a reference to Frankenstein, where you are writing this ugly, non-cohesive thing, which you could refine later. You’re so right that just getting started is what’s important because perfectionism can really hold a person back.