Streamline Your Writing Process to Save Time

Photo by Cassie Boca on Unsplash

Time never seems to be on a writer’s side. Let’s change that.

If you write, you’re probably well acquainted with carefully defining writing time in your schedule. Writers often go to great lengths to find time to work on their craft. But many writers are also familiar with the feeling of finally sitting down to write, only to waste hours not knowing what to write about or where to start.

Maybe you wake up early. Or stay up late. But instead of churning out words, you stare at the blank page.

If you’relike me, you start getting frustrated trying to remember all those ideas you had. This makes it even harder to start writing.

Imagine if every time you sat down, you started writing immediately. How good would it feel to know exactly what was next and how to get it done? What if every time your fingers hit the keyboard you were off and writing without delay? It’s possible!

By creating a process for my ideas using these three steps, I improved my writing quality and made myself more efficient:

  1. Ten topics every day
  2. Dictate your articles
  3. Outline

What’s going wrong?

We all get that writing high when we sit down and it all just flows. Words come out quickly and easily. It’s great. But it’s also not the reality of every day.

There were so many times I’d sit down to write and just couldn’t call up all the ideas I’d had.

However, when my daughter arrived, I realized how efficient I needed to be to get anything done. I couldn’t afford to have bad writing days. And you can’t either if you’re taking this writing thing seriously.

I was a disorganized mess. My ideas could be found on scraps of paper in random pockets. Some would be in notes on my phone. Others might be scribbled in a notebook. But I’d end up leafing through because there wasn’t an organized space to look for my ideas. Sound familiar?

Every writer I know seems to have this issue to some degree. I wanted to conquer it. Or at least decrease as much wasted time as possible.

Without a clear plan, this would have continued to happen to me. And, if you’re like I was, you’ll continue to waste your time, too. That’s why I decided to come up with a process for my writing.

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

You’re not alone

Seemingly every writer has those moments where you strategically plan for writing time only for it to be ruined. Maybe you set an alarm for some unreasonable hour in the morning. Maybe you stay up late. Or rush everyone out of the house so you can have 20 quiet minutes.

However, like clockwork, we sit and stare at the blank screen. Being inefficient can be a major issue for writers. It can also be wildly frustrating. So let’s try to fix it!

Step 1: Ten topics every day

One step that helped me become more efficient as a writer was writing out ten titles/topics every day.

Some (or most) might not turn into anything. However, even if 90% of them aren’t usable, you’ll still get one good topic every day.

This was stressful at first. Now it takes me 10 minutes at the most. Just remember, you don’t have to necessarily write the articles. So it doesn’t even matter if the idea is terrible. Write it down anyway.

You might find when you reread it later that a little tweak makes it better. Or that it triggers something in your mind and you come up with a new idea. Inevitably, there are at least 2 or 3 that stand out every day. I put a star next to those. Then, the next time I’m ready to write, I look through my list for which titles I’ve starred and, just like that, I’m off and writing.

Imagine if every week I handed you 70 possible topics. Even if you hated some, you’d still find something to work with. Well, you can create that list for yourself.

That’s 300+ ideas every month. Imagine what you could do with that! It all starts with one day.

Step 2: Dictate your articles

At times when you want to write but you can’t sit down and type, try to dictate your articles to yourself!

Consider taking a voice memo. Then, later, play it back and type out your words.

This worked great when I had an idea and wanted to ramble a bit, get some words out, with the knowledge I could copy my good lines word for word and change my worthless nonsense into something legitimate. This system is ideal for commuters who drive to work. I ask Siri to take a voice memo and she’ll do it safely, hands free.

Moving to the Otter app was a game changer for me. Otter translates talk into text. It’s a free app (for 600 minutes per month which is more than I’ll ever use).

I take walks with my daughter in her stroller every day. I frequently open the Otter app and speak into it. Then I email the text to myself and voila, I have half my article written.

Sure, some of it gets tossed out. But there’s enough there to get me rolling. Then it’s just about revising. Give me the clay and even when I’m struggling the most, I can mold it into something worthwhile. But I can’t create a sculpture without the clay.

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Step 3: Outline

Finally, I always, always, always, outline. Some kind of outline is vital for writing articles.

To develop high-quality posts, I find it helps to organize my ideas so I know where I’m going. I suggest this one by Writerly Lifestyle. It’s the one I used to write this piece.

The outline not only ensures I know where my article is headed, it also focuses my work. I’ve found that a solid plan can ensure I’m putting well-organized, quality content out into the world.

A quality outline can not only save time when writing the article, it also saves me time while editing. Instead of trying to piece together a coherent post while adding what I need along the way, working with an outline ensures that everything is already where it’s supposed to be. It’s a huge time saver for me.

Key takeaways

Imagine sitting down every day with something to write about.

Being a prolific writer doesn’t just happen. It’s produced. It’s a well-oiled machine. But you have to put the machine together so it can work the way you want it to.

If you struggle with executing your writing plans even if you seem to always have ideas, you’re in good company. Feeling frustrated or overwhelmed when you sit down at the computer is not only normal, it’s a rite of passage for writers.

However, putting safeguards in place to survive those moments can help. The process I use is to:

  1. Write your list of ten titles/topics
  2. Dictate your articles
  3. Use an outline

If you’re like me, taking these three steps can reduce your struggles by getting you started writing whenever you have the time.

By following these three steps, I always have something to work on. Whether it’s new content from my outlines, revising based on my notes, or starting with a new topic thanks to my list of ideas.

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