If you want to write more books, blog posts, or papers, writing faster is the key to unlock your goals.
However, there is much more to it than just learning how to type faster. Instead, to become a successful writer, you need to position yourself for success, and arrange your schedule and surroundings so that you can become more efficient with your limited time.
Basically, it's not just about being a faster writer, it's also about making sure you get the most out of the time you have.
Therefore, to help you put yourself in the best position to become a faster writer and create better content, I've created this full list of of steps that can truly make a difference in your writing output.
- How to write faster and better (12 tips and tricks)
- Common writing myths to overcome
- The secret to using the Pomodoro Method
- How to be consistent and stay motivated
Now, while I wrote these tips specifically with authors in mind, much of it also applies to writing a great blog post or full-time students free writing an essay that was due yesterday.
What are the best tips for how to write faster? Below, I’ve compiled the 13 best tips and tricks to help you write faster (and better):
- Schedule undisturbed writing time
- Get in the “write” meditation mindset
- Choose the right music or noise blocking
- Remain consistent
- Write the first line
- Use the Pomodoro Technique
- Turn off the red squiggly line
- Know your genre
- Outline your story
- Experiment with dictation software
- Silence your inner editor
- Insert placeholder text
- Reward yourself
In today’s self-publishing landscape, authors who publish more frequently get more visibility. However, you don’t have to write a bajillion words an hour to be a successful author. There are plenty of authors who write a book a year (or fewer) and do just fine. It all depends on your personal goals.
What are some things that might slow down your writing speed?
- Bad keyboard
- Slow computer
- Daily stresses
- Social media
- Netflix, YouTube, etc.
- Music with lyrics
- Lack of an outline
- Not setting goals
- Editing while you write
- An inconsistent writing schedule
What is a good writing speed? A good writing speed depends on the individual, but most consider 60-80 words per minute (wpm) to be a good writing speed for professional authors. 40 wpm is average. Plus, most professional writers try to write at least 600-1,000 words each day, no matter how many hours.
If you'd like to test yourself to see your score, you can try it here.
Table of contents
- 1. Schedule Undisturbed Writing Time
- 2. Get In the “Write” Meditation Mindset
- 3. Choose the Right Music or Noise Blocker
- 4. Remain Consistent
- 5. Write the First Line
- 6. Use the Pomodoro Technique
- 7. Turn Off The Squiggly Red Line
- 8. Know Your Genre
- 9. Outline Your Story
- 10. Experiment with Dictation Software
- 11. Silence Your Inner Editor
- 12. Insert Placeholder Text
- 13. Reward Yourself
Links in this article may give me a small commission if you use them to purchase a product. There’s no extra cost to you!
1. Schedule Undisturbed Writing Time
Many authors just starting out still have day jobs and families. Or pets. Or social obligations. All of these take a lot of time. Basically, life gets in the way.
To write efficiently with all of this, you need to schedule undisturbed writing time with no distractions.
During this writing time, stick to the following rules so you can write faster:
- Turn the Wi-Fi off if possible.
- Turn off your phone, or set it to Airplane Mode.
- Don’t check email.
- Don’t you dare get on social media.
- Don’t eat. Schedule your writing time around your meals, not during them.
- Don't get up to go to the bathroom. Relieve yourself right before you write.
- Look to schedule a writing sprint within your time.
There’s always more time in the day. The trick is finding it and using it effectively for your writing.
Myth: “You have to lose sleep to find time to write.” No, please do not deprive yourself of sleep. There are all sorts of health problems associated with even a little sleep deprivation. There are other parts of your day to schedule undisturbed writing time.
It can be an hour a day, an hour a week, or even 5 hours every Saturday. Find that perfect slot of time and mark it as your writing time. Set the alarm on your phone or your Google Calendar. When the alarm goes off, stick to that schedule.
Know thyself. If you’re a night owl, don’t feel obligated to schedule a 5 AM writing time — that’s not a writing habit you’re going to keep. If you’re too exhausted after work every day, schedule your writing time on the weekend. If you’re full-up on the weekend, do it after work.
2. Get In the “Write” Meditation Mindset
At the beginning of your undisturbed writing time, you need to get in the “write” mindset. (Sorry, I had to.) This doesn’t just mean cutting out distractions. This is visualizing, meditating, and relaxing. “Get Zen, Then Pen.”
Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and visualize the scene you’re about to write. Do this for 2-3 minutes, keeping your breathing calm and steady. This uncluttered the brain of all the daily stresses you experience in your non-writer life.
Myth: “Thinking about writing is a waste of time.” Thinking about writing makes the actual writing process go faster and can improve the plot and prose. Thinking about writing may include meditation, brainstorming, or simply daydreaming.
Don’t spend too long meditating. Your goal is to write faster, not to waste all your designated writing time on glorified napping. But getting in the right mindset can prevent writer’s block, optimize your writing speed, even improve your prose.
Check out this writer’s meditation guide for more info.
3. Choose the Right Music or Noise Blocker
Another excellent way to helping you get in the writer zone is listening to the right kind of music. While some authors have a specific type of music they prefer, it is recommended that the best way to get in the zone is to choose music that doesn't have lyrics in it. This helps to keep your brain focuses and ensures your brain isn't processing two sets of words (those in the music, and those you are trying to write).
You can listen to classical upbeat music, white noise, rain sounds, beach sounds and even synthesized music.
A while ago, I purchased a lifetime subscription to Brain.fm when it was first offered (super awesome pickup). It's a system that has scientifically backed technology that increases brain waves through synthetic noise/sounds. You can choose sounds that will put you in a productive mood, or to relax. While this is incredible, it now costs $6.99. But definitely something to try.
If you're looking for free music options though, one of the best sources for this is on YouTube. There are a lot of YouTubers who have created their own list of songs. Here is a list of compilations that you should definitely check out:
- Epic Music – my personal favorite since 2012
- White Noise
- Beach Sounds
- Best Classical Music for Writing
- Compilation of Music for Writers
- Increase focus sound waves for concentration – Alpha Waves
Or, if you can think of something that jives with your vibe, just go to YouTube, and search something like “ambiance” with a word like “rain,” “beach,” or even “Lord of the Rings,” and you’ll stumble across a wealth of options to try.
4. Remain Consistent
To start writing faster and more efficiently, a writer needs to remain consistent. Keep to your writing schedule. Keep to your daily word count goals. Keep to your long-term goals.
Myth: “I just can’t find the time to write.” There is always time in the day. You just have to find it. Don’t lose sleep, don’t starve yourself, and don’t ruin relationships. But there is time to write.
To quote Stephen King: “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” To write faster, you need to just get up and go to work. Just do it. Consistently.
You can follow every tip and trick on the Internet, but you won’t see results if you’re not consistent.
Consistency is a habit. It’s setting aside a time of day — it doesn’t have to be every day — where you write and do nothing else. It's working towards your goal when you don't feel like it. It’s recognizing that you’re the one in control, that only you can write faster to meet and exceed your personal goals.
Writing a jumble of words every hour doesn’t automatically equal success.
However, writing as much as possible will improve your writing and help you meet your goals and targets, including writing faster and publishing more books.
How can I improve my writing speed? You can improve your writing speed by setting a writing schedule and keeping to it consistently. The longer you remain consistent, the better your writing speed (and writing skills in general) will be.
5. Write the First Line
Come up with the first line of each scene before you pen the rest. This first line should serve as a hook to draw the reader in and make them want to read the rest right away.
Writing that first line can unlock your creativity and inspire you to write more of the chapter you’re working on. It’s a great way to “destroy the blank page.”
Alternatively, you can write the first line and leave that chapter/scene for later. Writing one sentence or paragraph is not so daunting. Writing a chapter or scene based on a sentence you already wrote yesterday is also not less intimidating.
Ernest Hemingway believed you should stop writing right when you’re on a roll when your writing is at its most engaging. Sounds crazy, but it’s a great mind hack. This way, you’ll be dying to write the next bit.
Myth: “I need to start at the beginning of the scene to explain everything.” In media res means into the midst of things. That’s how you always need to start each scene: in the middle. The stakes are higher, there’s a little mystery as to how the characters got here, and writers never need to explain everything to their readers.
Check out this article on How to Start a Story that Hooks Readers Right Away or this First Line Generator.
6. Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management technique developed in the 80s. It is a great productivity tool for writers who want to write faster.
Step-by-step instructions on how to use the Pomodoro Technique to write faster:
- Cut out all distractions, and decide on a task to complete.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes. Though this is the traditional amount of time, you can adjust it to however long you wish.
- Write for the full 25 minutes. Do not stop for anything — not for coffee, not for typos. Do not backspace. Just write the scene.
- Beep! Well done. Document how many words you wrote during each 25-minute writing session (called the Pomodoro). Aim beat your previous word count and write faster for each Pomodoro.
- At the end of 25 minutes, you get to take a 5-minute break. Do whatever you want for those 5 glorious minutes.
- After your short break, return to step 2. Unless it’s been more than 2 hours since you began, in which case go to step 7.
- After repeating this cycle for 2 hours, take a 15- to 30-minute break. Return to step 2.
Fun fact: “Pomodoro” is the Italian word for “tomato.” The Pomodoro Technique is named after the little tomato-shaped kitchen timers so popular in the 1980s.
Do you struggle with ADHD as a writer? A Pomodoro is a popular technique for inducing artificial deadlines to help people with ADHD or other attention issues focus on a task.
7. Turn Off The Squiggly Red Line
Even though proofreading is essential, save it for the editing phase.
While you’re writing, turn off the squiggly red line.
This will help you write faster because you will spend less time getting distracted by clicking “Add to Dictionary” or falling down the rabbit hole looking up the etymology of a specific word.
Spelling and grammar checkers are life savers, but they are also great at pulling you out of writing. Even a few seconds of clicking can derail your writing flow.
Myth: “The software I use can’t turn off the spell checker.” Essentially all book writing tools in existence have the ability to turn off the spell checker.
Learn not to stress out about minor errors. Don’t worry; you’ll correct all those mistakes in the editing process.
8. Know Your Genre
Writing faster is not all about “hands-on keyboard, butt in the chair, and go!” You need to do your research beforehand, including genre research.
Assuming you’ve already identified your genre, I encourage you to search for competitors, specifically in the self-publishing realm. Read their bestselling books, or at least learn what they’re about, how they’re structured, and what about them most appeals to readers.
To know your genre, you must become your genre. Pick a genre that you’re passionate about and that you’ve read a lot of books in.
Myth: “Reading books in your genre will negatively affect your own novel.” This isn’t true at all.
Unless you’re simply copying and pasting plot points, character arcs, or distinct settings, reading other books in your genre helps you know what a reader will expect of you: tropes, archetypal characters, types of setting, and more.
Use Publisher Rocket to find competing books with the Competition Analyzer tool. You can view helpful info like age range, estimated sales, etc.
9. Outline Your Story
Outline your story. There are many different ways to outline your novel, but you need to create some kind of outline.
Outlining your story has so many benefits:
- Better pacing
- No plot holes
- Improved character arcs
- Scenes in order
- Direction and focus when you write
- Time saved in the editing phase
- Less writer’s block
And remember, you can change your outline at any time. Don’t feel tied down. You should feel unburdened by the structure an outline provides.
Many writers are pantsers, meaning they just sit down and write instead of plotting their story first. This may work for a select few masters of the craft, but not outlining your work leads to writer’s block, uneven pacing, plot holes, and a lack of focus.
Myth: “Stephen King doesn’t outline, and he’s super successful, so I shouldn’t outline.” First of all, Stephen King is such a master that he outlines in his head without writing it down. Secondly, isn’t King infamous for his bad endings? Maybe that’s because of his lack of a written outline.
I know some writers who write the broad strokes of their story with pencil and paper, which works great for them. I know other writers who detail every scene and piece of information that need to be in each chapter, and that works great for them.
I recommend you at least write down a line or two under each chapter heading so you know what to write when you get there.
Also, when you’re outlining, write like a 10-year-old. Don’t get fancy, don’t waste time, summarize in broad, general statements what is happening — like a 10-year-old describing their favorite movie.
In your outline, you can include:
- Main points of the plot (broad strokes)
- Specific scenes organized by cause and effect
- Character arcs
- The denouement
Want more handy videos like this? Subscribe to my channel!
Here are some of my favorite outline templates and resources:
- My article on How to Outline a Novel
- The Novel Factory’s Novel Outline Templates for Multiple Genres
- Evernote’s 12 Creative Writing Templates
- Derek Murphy’s Free Fiction Template to Help Outline Your Novel
- Libbie Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants! (Yes, it's about outlining.)
- Josh Fechter’s Which Novel Outline Template is Right for You
10. Experiment with Dictation Software
Dictation is basically talking instead of writing. Experiment with high-quality dictation software (AKA speech-to-text software) if you’re having trouble typing for very long.
You probably talk faster than you write, so this is a method worth trying out if you want to write faster.
Although these apps will not perfectly transcribe your speech, don’t worry about it right now. Don’t edit any of it until you’ve finished writing the scene or chapter. Then the editing phase can begin.
Myth: “All speech-to-text software sucks.” Although some speech-to-text software may prove subpar, there are plenty of fantastic applications out there that you can use to dictate:
- Microsoft Azure Speech to Text
- Google Docs Text-to-Speech Function
- Amazon Transcribe
- Dragon by Nuance
- Just Press Record
You’ll spend more time editing after you've finished your words for the day, but you’ll likely get more done when you dictate.
Check out this handy article on Best Book Transcription Services for Authors.
11. Silence Your Inner Editor
I’ve already suggested turning off that red squiggly line. Now, let’s go bigger.
You need to silence your inner editor if you’re going to write faster. Whenever you self-edit while writing, it slows you down more than you could imagine.
This is a tricky step for most writers because we’re so critical of ourselves. There’s probably a bit of imposter syndrome thrown in there, too. But perfectionism is the enemy of typing speed. It takes perfectionists forever just to finish a rough draft on any given writing project.
Myth: “If I don’t edit now, my book will be riddled with errors.” You better edit your book once you’ve finished it. If you don’t edit your first draft once you’ve written it, then your book reviews will be scathing, and you’ll sell fewer books.
You should edit your book at least 3 times before hiring a professional editor to edit it again. But only edit after you’ve written.
When you see that weird dialogue, keep writing.
When you want to edit formatting, keep writing.
When you spot a clunky sentence, keep writing.
When you feel like your story is the worst thing ever, don’t stop. Keep writing.
12. Insert Placeholder Text
You may run into something you need to research or look up. Instead of scouring Googling for ten minutes, insert placeholder text like “ZX” or “TK” and move on. This allows you to avoid distractions, maintain momentum, and write faster.
You can COMMAND + F or CTRL + F for the placeholder text after you’ve finished the chapter.
Alternatively, book writing tools like Scrivener allow you to seamlessly split-screen what you’re writing and any research document or image or web page you’ve uploaded into the sidebar. That way, you aren’t opening a new tab, ruining your inertia.
Myth: “I need to research while I’m writing.” No, you don’t. Keep writing, research later. Google whatever you need to before or after you write. Then you can change what you wrote.
13. Reward Yourself
Motivate yourself to write faster by rewarding yourself. These rewards don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. But they’re a great way to train yourself to write faster.
Pavlovian responses are natural. The bell rings, you drool for your reward. Reward yourself for writing consistently and quickly; I promise writing will get easier and easier the more you reward yourself.
Candies, Clothes, and Books, Oh My!
When you complete your Pomodoros for the day, treat yourself to a new book or a mani-pedi (they’re good for men, too) or quality time spent with family. Buy yourself a healthy snack or junk food — whatever you will personally respond to.
For more significant milestones, you earn bigger rewards. Examples include:
- Wrote 2,000 words in 1 hour? Eat out at your favorite restaurant.
- Achieved your daily writing goals for a month straight? Buy the newest Apple product you’ve been wanting.
- Finished your outline? Watch Netflix all day Saturday with the fam.
- Finished a book? Get yourself that gilded monocle you’ve been eyeing.
Once again, this doesn’t have to be a financial reward. No matter the prize, the positive psychological impact is enormous. You’ll feel more motivated the next day, resulting in faster writing.
The “Cross It Out” Method
This is the first time I’ve shared my dirty little secret. I keep an entire notebook of scratched-out word counts. I hope you get as much pleasure out of this reward as I do.
Let me explain how to use my “Cross It Out” method:
- Grab a notebook.
- Write the title of your story at the top of a page.
- On each line, write a subset of your total word count. For example: 1,000, 2,000, 3,000.
- When you’ve written 1,000 words, cross out “1,000” in your notebook. Written 2,000 words? Cross out “2,000” in your notebook.
It’s very satisfying, encouraging, and rewarding to whittle away at your word count. This rewarding feeling should compel you to write more and write quickly.
14. Use Focus Apps
A lot can be said for the write app to help you with your productivity.
A good focus app can help you
- Eliminate distractions like social media
- Set a timer to help you work
- Give you a reason to not stop (see Write Or Die for a great example of this)
And that's just the basics.
Myth: A focus app is just surface level. In order to be truly focused, you've got to just work harder.
Not true at all. Focus apps provide systems that trick your brain into doing what it needs to, and many have found that something as simple as a timer is enough to double or event triple their productivity.
That said, not all tools are what you specifically need. Each one has different strengths, so you need to find the one that's right for you.
Check out this list of productivity apps that help writers write faster:
15. Set Purposeful Goals
If you don't know what your goal is, you're likely to go nowhere. And it's progress towards a goal that breeds true motivation.
Myth: Motivation is that excited feeling you get before you start a project that gets you through to the end of your goal.
False. Motivation is generated by success. Therefore, the best kind of goals you can set include one big goal, but then a lot of little goals that act as stepping stones to your big goal.
For example, your big goal could be finishing a 100,000-word book. And your little goals can be 10,000 or even 5,000-word sections, which seem a lot more doable. See my “Cross it Out” method above. Just checking off a step toward a big goal can be a huge reward and result in more motivation.
16. Set Deadlines
Deadlines can be a huge motivation for authors. This is one area where traditional publishing has a slight edge on independent authors, because the publishing house will provide a deadline for each draft of your book that you have to meet.
Pro Tip: I like to give myself deadlines that I can't just back out of whenever I want. For some, this could be a preorder (though you should know my view on preorders), for others it could be talking to another person and agreeing with them on some consequence for not hitting the deadline, or a reward that you only get when you hit it.
17. Have a “Marathon” Day
Sometimes we don't write enough because we don't have a true idea of what we're capable of. A marathon day can do this for you.
Myth: writing a book fast lessens the quality of the book.
False. I've found that the faster I write a book, the fewer structural revisions I need because everything I had written was fresh in my brain as I continued writing.
And a marathon day is the best way to get a lot of words out at once. Do you think it's possible to write 10,000 words a day? 12,000? It can be done.
Pick a day and make sure you have absolutely nothing scheduled for that day. Then start writing in the morning and keep going until the evening.
Now, you can burn yourself out quickly, and you don't want to do that. So take frequent breaks (I recommend the Pomodoro technique mentioned above), eat three healthy meals, get up and walk around frequently, and drink plenty of water. These techniques will help you have the stamina to get through the day.
If you spend 8-12 hours truly writing in a single day, you will be amazed at how much you get done. And that realization will help you write more in the future, because you will have a better sense of what you can accomplish.
18. Participate in NaNoWriMo
Speaking of writing marathons, NaNoWriMo (which stands for National Novel Writing Month) is a yearly event where authors get together to write at least 50,000 words in the month of November. That's the size of a small novel.
The community surrounding NaNoWritMo is huge, and can be a huge support when trying to get 50,000 words done in a single month. But when you succeed, there's no better feeling, and you'll realize that you actually are capable of writing a book in a month.
19. Find an Accountability Partner
It's hard to meet your goals and stay on task by yourself, because you have no skin in the game. After all, if you mess up, no one will know but you.
That's why an accountability partner is so important. Confiding in someone can be a powerful motivation to follow through on your actions.
Personally, I recommend against posting on social media, as this is impersonal. Instead, find someone that you truly respect, someone that you wouldn't dream of disappointing if you give you word. This can be a spouse, family member, or close friend.
20. Outsource Non-essential Tasks
Myth: If you want anything done well, you have to do it yourself.
Absolutely false. In order to truly excel, you need to focus on those things that you do best, or that are most important for you to grow as an author. If you want to be the best at writing, then you've got to write. Everything else is a distraction.
To help, consider hiring a virtual assistant or someone to help with the extra chores that distract you from your writing. You won't believe how much of a relief this is.
I understand this can be hard for authors who are just starting out and don't have the funds to outsource their tasks. That's fine, but consider starting small. Pick your least favorite task that someone else could easily do, and see if you can find someone willing to work for cheap on Fiverr or Upwork.
Because ultimately, it makes more financial sense for you to work on the writing, because that will result in more books, which results in more sales.
If you're having trouble writing, try freewriting.
Myth: You must focus solely on writing your book.
Sometimes, when authors hit writers block, it can be because you have some words inside you that you just need to get out. A good way to get past writers block is just to start writing, about anything.
It can be related to your novel, or it could just be a stream of consciouness as you describe what you're thinking in that moment. This will get you into the rythym of writing, and you'll be back to the novel in no time.
Freewriting also helps you to practice and perfect your prose. It's a win-win.
22. Maintain Your Health
I debated putting this here, but I really feel it's important.
Myth: Writing productivity has nothing to do with your physical health. After all, you're just sitting in a chair while you write, so diet and exercise don't matter, right?
I've found that when I'm eating unhealthily, with sugary snacks and a lack of vegetables, that I'm a lot more tired throughout the day. This is true of virtually every author that I've talked to. Your diet and exercise affect your mental state, and that affects your writing.
Now I'm not a doctor, nor should any of this be taken as medical advice, but I think it's pretty straightforward to say that a healthy diet/lifestyle and exercise will help you to write faster.
For more on this and related topics, I recommend The Healthy Writer, by Joanna Penn and Euan Lawson.
23. Try AI Writing
Now hold on, I realize this is a controversial option for many, but let me explain…
Myth: AI is not helpful to authors. It's not a writing tool.
We often think of Artificial intelligence (AI) as a robot that is coming for our jobs, or a tool that takes all creativity out of writing. But in reality it can be a useful tool for writing a first draft, in a very similar way to dictation (see above). By using AI, you can generate ideas, develop characters, and even write entire scenes.
In fact, may neurodivergent authors (like those with dyslexia like me) are finding AI to be a useful tool to get that first draft on virtual paper, so they can then adjust and modify it from there.
I've seen it used effectively by writing small prompts for what the author wants in a scene, then the AI writes a few paragraphs, the author fixes up those paragraphs, then prompts the AI for the next few paragraphs. It's a very similar experience to actually writing, or writing with a co-author who responds to your prompts instantly and doesn't get tired.
To use AI to write your first draft, you'll need to have access to a language generation model. OpenAI's GPT-3 is one popular option, but there are others available as well. Once you have access to a language generation model, you can start by inputting a prompt or topic, and the AI will generate text based on that input.
It's important to note that AI-generated text may not always be perfect or grammatically correct. However, it can be a great starting point for your own writing and can help you overcome writer's block. And you can always revise and edit the text as you go.
Try experimenting with different prompts and topics to see what kind of text the AI generates. And remember, the more you use AI to write, the more you'll become comfortable with the process and the better you'll be able to incorporate the AI-generated text into your own writing.
How do you write faster?
You can write faster and better if you follow the writing tips and tricks I’ve discussed, such as setting aside dedicated writing time, outlining your story, not editing while you write, and rewarding yourself when you achieve a goal.
Be consistent. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Use the Pomodoro Technique. Challenge yourself to beat your own word count score. Practice makes perfect. That’s how to write faster.
I believe the best way to write faster is setting a consistent schedule, turning off your grammar and spell check for a while, and rewarding yourself. But you might think differently.
How do you write faster for NaNoWriMo? Many writers take up the challenge of writing a whole novel in one month: NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. You can write faster for NaNoWriMo with the Pomodoro Technique, scheduling undisturbed writing time, outlining and researching ahead of time, and not editing while writing.
Honest truth: There’s no “get rich quick, write fast easy” scheme. There’s hard work. If writing is what you really want to do, you have to put in the hard work. Hopefully, the tools and pro tips in this article make that hard work a little bit easier.