Soloists often have a lot of material to write on any given day or week, from blog posts to web copy, enewsletters and proposals. This can be a time-consuming process, especially if you lack direction. Here are some tips for refining your skills and getting your writing up to speed.
We all have different levels of ‘fast’
The aim of this article is to help you write faster than you usually do, not to increase your output to some unrealistic or unattainable speed. For some people, this will reduce particular business writing tasks from three weeks to two weeks, for others it might reduce them from a couple of days to a couple of hours.
Step 1. Always have a purpose and a plan
No matter what you’re writing, know why you’re writing it and how you plan to do it.
Kazz the stress management consultant wants to write a blog post for her website. Rather than sitting down to a blank screen and writing without a plan, she will first ask and answer the following questions:
- Who is my target audience?
Human resource managers.
- What is the message I want to get across in this blog post?
If staff are stressed, then an organisation’s profit can decrease.
- What are the writing requirements?
500 words, including: an attention-grabbing headline, an introduction, the body, and a conclusion.
- What points will I include?
– Headline: Three reasons why workplace stress will shred your bottom line
– Intro: Facts and statistics about workplace stress as it relates to profitability
– Body: Three points about why workplace stress is bad for profit margins
– Conclude with a summary of the article
By having a purpose and plan, Kazz will no longer be wasting days or weeks randomly writing, editing and re-writing without any direction. Instead, she’ll be efficiently following a framework, and avoiding a million time-wasting frustrations in the process.
Want more articles like this? Check out the business writing section.
Step 2. Get rid of distractions before you write
When you sit down to write, focus only on the writing task at hand rather than being distracted by emails, phone calls, Facebook or anything else. Every time you lose your mental continuity you lose time. Sometimes this could be hours; sometimes weeks. If you want to speed up your writing, get rid of as many distractions as possible.
Step 3. Set a realistic deadline and, if necessary, be accountable to someone
By setting a deadline you avoid wasting a whole lot of time. Additionally, by being accountable to someone (who will question you if you don’t meet the deadline) you might be more likely to complete it on time.
Step 4. Have low expectations of your first draft
It is much quicker and easier to edit a terrible first draft than it is to try and write a perfect first draft. So forget about the word count, spelling and grammar; all of these things can be chopped, changed and revised in the editing process.
Step 5. Edit and proofread as much as you need to. Then let it go.
Now that you’ve written your copy, it’s time to edit and proofread it. Everyone will do this differently. I edit and proofread my clients’ copywriting work several times, and will leave it to ‘rest’ overnight so that I can re-read it with fresh eyes the next day. Also, I’ll generally edit from a printout because I always pick up errors in hard copy that I don’t pick up on screen.
Once you’ve done the best editing you possibly can, publish or send it rather than agonising over it for a further few days or weeks.
In a nutshell
As you can see, writing choppy copy can be a matter of simply: having a framework, focusing on your task, setting a deadline, writing without high expectations, editing and proofreading your copy, and then, finally, letting it go.
What are your business writing tips?