Look into the profiles of most prolific writers and you’ll see staggering figures:
Stephen King has published more than 63 novels since his debut best-seller Carrie.
Isaac Asimov, one of the “Big Three” sci-fi writers, wrote more than 500 books over his 53-year career.
Anthony Trollope churned out 47 novels and dozens of short stories despite writing for only three hours per day.
Charles Bukowski produced some 5,000 poems, novels, and short stories during his 38 years of writing.
How did these writers manage to create content so quickly? Do they possess supernatural powers to pop out content at lightning speed?
The truth is prolific writers aren’t much different from us. They achieve an impressive bibliography merely through hard work and perseverance.
However, these individuals also have secrets that allow them to ramp up their writing speed—secrets you can learn and adopt for your own content creation effort.
So, if you’re ready to uncover the truth, let’s dive right in:
There’s no shortcut to speedy content creation; to become a fast writer, you have to make writing your daily habit.
Most prolific writers stick to a rigid writing ritual. They show up every day and write, even if they’re in no mood for it.
Asimov was a prime example. He would wake up around 6 a.m. every day, sit down at the typewriter by 7:30 a.m., and work all day until 10 p.m. Due to his grueling schedule, he was able to squeeze out a brand-new book after just a few days.
Although few of us have the time and motivation to write from dawn to dusk like Asimov, we can easily block out some time for writing each day.
If you have a hectic schedule, set aside as little as half an hour to write. But during this half an hour, do only one thing: Write. You can’t check your phone or Facebook messages, or read emails.
And you have to do it again tomorrow.
Writing is like training a muscle. The more you practice, the better you become. The key is to be persistent.
Ask writers what their best time for writing is and you’re likely to get different answers.
Many find themselves most productive early in the morning. They rise at dawn, get the coffee ready, and start writing immediately.
Trollope was one such early bird writer. Being a full-time post office inspector, he had no choice but to wake up early to pursue his writing passion. According to an article, Trollope wrote diligently from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. every day before going to work.
Others aren’t able to get the creative juices flowing until they have cleared up all distractions, like answering emails, taking their kids to school, or catching up on important news.
Jerry B. Jenkins, a New York Times best-selling author of over 190 books, including romance novels, mysteries, children’s adventures, non-fiction works, and biographies, sits behind his writing desk only after having a little breakfast and checking on the baseball scores and the news.
Meanwhile, some writers like Bukowski prefer to write through the night.
In Bukowski’s own words:
“I never type in the morning. I don’t get up in the morning. I drink at night. I try to stay in bed until twelve o’clock, that’s noon … then I go upstairs with a couple of bottles and I type — starting around nine-thirty and going until one-thirty, to, two-thirty at night. And that’s it.”
It’s hard to say who is more productive than others because they all have produced an impressive amount of work over their careers.
The best time to write is the time that works best for you—when you feel most alive, and least distracted.
For me, those peak productivity hours are between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., so that’s when I do most of my writing. Later in the day is devoted to making phone calls, walking around the neighborhood, or chatting with a friend. At night, I am free to do whatever I like (draw, watch movies, read).
However, if you’re a habitual night owl, there’s no use forcing yourself to adopt an early morning writing routine. Chances are, you won’t be as productive as you would be at night.
Not sure if you’re a morning or evening writer? Experiment.
For the next three days, try working at different times—morning, afternoon, and evening. Note any distractions while you’re working. Compare the amount and quality of your work during those hours and you’ll find out when you are most effective.
If you pick up only one secret to write faster than lightning, this should be it: Set a deadline.
When it comes to working under intense deadlines, no one knows better than Trollope, the author who, as I mentioned, churned out an impressive amount of work despite writing for only three hours per day.
To make sure his three writing hours in the morning didn’t go to waste, Trollope designed a timed-writing strategy. In a quarter of an hour, he had to write 250 words.
By setting himself a deadline, Trollope was able to finish 10 pages per writing session, totaling three novels of three volumes per year.
By setting yourself a deadline, you are forced to concentrate solely on your writing. You cannot switch to Facebook or YouTube because you have to get your work done before it’s due, which increases your writing speed substantially.
Another advantage of setting a deadline is that it keeps you writing without editing as you go. This shuts out the inner critic so you can keep the creativity flowing and put more words on paper. After finishing the first draft, you can come back and make any changes you want.
So how can you make deadlines work for you?
You don’t have to force 250 words out of your brain every 15 minutes (although it might be worth trying if your 10,000-word thesis is due). Change your word count goal to match your writing speed, or change the amount of time you plan to write.
The key is to create the pressure that you need to motivate yourself to write more in a short period of time.
When it comes to email marketing, not many people can reach the level of Ben Settle, a renowned email copywriter who charges $97 per month for his Email Players subscribers.
If you join his email list, you’ll know Settle can churn out content at lightning speed. He sends out daily emails (often more than one per day) packed with impactful marketing, writing, and life lessons; writes monthly newsletters for his Email Players members; publishes a new book every few weeks; and crafts lengthy sales pages for his offers.
Needless to say, Settle is one of those “swift-footed” writers.
And his secret to breakneck content creation?
Simply the fundamental knowledge: Know your market.
According to Settle, a speedy writer is someone who understands their market inside out—their audience’s goals, challenges, desires, pain points, vocabulary, hangout spots, and favorite TV shows.
The more writers know about their audience, the more likely it is that they can come up with relevant content to keep the audience interested. In other words, they never run out of ideas for their newsletters, blog posts, books, copy, and whatever content they put out.
King wrote about the relationship between a writer and their audience in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft:
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”
As writers, we easily get carried away with our own imagination and forget to include the audience in the picture.
When your idea tank is empty, simply go back to your readers. Get into their heads to see what might excite them and create content to meet this need.
For our final secret to rapid content creation, let’s get back to prolific sci-fi writer Asimov.
Commenting on Asimov’s work, filmmaker James Gunn wrote:
“The dialogue is, at best, functional, and the style is, at best, transparent … The robot stories and, as a matter of fact, almost all Asimov fiction—play themselves on a relatively bare stage.”
Most of Asimov’s novels consist of simple characters and simple dialogue. His writing style was simple and straightforward. He preferred short sentences and direct verbs while avoiding flowery language and useless adverbs, which he believed only cluttered up his writing and confused readers.
By keeping things simple, he could bang out content faster than any sci-fi writers of his time. He could write whatever sprang into his head without trying to impress readers with complicated plot and language.
You could do the same to speed up your writing process.
Stop using flowery language or complex sentence structures. Don’t beat around the bush when explaining an idea. Get to the point quickly. Try to break up your paragraphs into two or three sentences.
This will save you hours of editing. You can focus solely on getting your work done and published. You will no longer see putting words on paper as a struggle, but as the joy of simply getting your thoughts out there.
Perhaps you dream of doubling your daily word count or writing a novel in a week. Guess what? It’s not impossible. You just have to follow the path already laid out for you by prolific writers. What works for them will work for you, as well. So, stop making excuses, and put these “secrets” into practice:
1. Write daily whether you like it or not.
2. Find your best time for writing.
3. Set a deadline.
4. Know your market inside out.
5. Use simple language.
Sometimes, a simple tweak in your writing routine can lead to big changes. You just need some courage to take action.
Even if the result doesn’t show up immediately, keep writing anyway. Because the more you write, the better and faster you get. The key is to be persistent.
Naomi is a free-spirited soul who believes writing can be fun and stress-free. That’s why she started “Productive To Succeed”, a blog that helps aspiring writers to push back the writing block and create tantalizing content with ease. Her blog is also filled with authentic, experience-based advice about time management, writing motivation and self-improvement. Read more of her work here.