‘The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble’
– Raymond Chandler
With briefs piling on and clients demanding status updates, staying on top of copy can be stressful. Many a marketing copywriter covets the ability to write faster without sacrificing quality. Here are seven easy-to-implement tips to improve your writing speed and boost your productivity.
1. Research before you write
Jumping straight into writing can be tempting, especially when there’s a lot on your plate. It may seem like the quickest way to the finish line, but without proper groundwork you’ll be slowed down before long.
Researching a brief before putting pen to paper helps you get a proper sense of what you’re writing about. Even if it’s just a scan of a few articles, it means that instead of charging into oblivion, you’re able to write with confidence. Confidence translates to speed.
2. Plan your copy
Creating structure for your copy before you write it can increase your writing speed tenfold. If you know what’s coming, it’s a matter of filling in the blanks. Plan ahead and you’ll write faster without compromising the story you’re telling. When writing for a client, laying out what you need to include at the outset means that it’ll definitely be in the copy.
3. Establish a routine
Writing marketing copy is work, and you should treat it as such. Having a repeatable process means you know what to expect when it comes time to write, and you’ll be able to get in the ‘zone’ far quicker. It’s been shown to improve writing quality, as well as speed. Avoid wasting time before you write, and you’ll find you write faster as a result.
4. Use shorthand for notes
When researching for a blog post or white paper, speeding up your note-taking can significantly reduce the time you spend on an assignment. Learning a shorthand ‘language’ like Teeline is a great way to accelerate note-taking, and becomes intuitive with some practice. Write faster notes, finish assignments faster.
5. Auto-transcribe interviews
Instead of wasting valuable writing hours transcribing an entire client interview, make use of transcription software to do the grunt work for you. While the transcriptions may not always be perfect, programs like Dragon and even Google’s free Voice Typing for dictation mean you’re getting everything in writing while you’re conducting the interview.
6. Write first, edit later
The temptation will always be there to edit as you write. You may notice that the structure isn’t working or that there’s a better word that you could have used, but it’s best to wait. Getting words on paper is a major hurdle, so clear it without interruption and don’t agonise. Editing afterwards gives you the benefit of hindsight, and allows you to tastefully pepper your copy with SEO keywords to ensure you’ve met the brief.
7. Automate repeated phrases
Lastly, if you’re looking for the copywriting equivalent of Michael Phelps trimming nose hairs to shave a millisecond off his lap time, you might consider automating repetitive text. If your brief requires that you mention a specific name or product title several times, programs like TextExpander have saved some bloggers hundreds of hours.
Writing faster doesn’t mean sacrificing quality and compromising your copywriting. Employing just a few of these tips can increase your productivity, confidence and ability to satisfy clients.
This article was originally published in 2010 and focused on Teeline shorthand. We have completely rewritten it and added new tips and advice for the August 2018 version.