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6 Productivity Hacks to Write Faster and Better

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We all have time to write during the day. Let me put it this way: If you have time to read this article, you have time to write. Maybe not a novel, but certainly a paragraph.

But don’t leave to write just yet.

Being productive as a writer isn’t about finding more time— It’s about making the best of the time you already have.

In this article, we’re going to share unique ways to increase your productivity and efficiency as a writer. Let’s get started.

1. Write on Multiple Devices

While you shouldn’t just wait for inspiration to hit you before you write (write and then inspiration will catch up with you), there will be times when inspiration comes and you’re not at your desk.

Sometimes, inspiration will slap you in the face while you’re on your morning commute— with no laptop in sight.

Rather than trying to hold on to that bright idea until you’re back at your desk, be ready to jot it down immediately. Otherwise, it will slip away.

Conventional wisdom suggests that you carry a pen and notebook with you wherever you go, but that wisdom is just a tad bit dated. We live in the 21st century now, which means that you don’t have to resort to scribbling these ideas in notebooks or on the back of envelopes and random receipts that you find in your pants’ pocket.

These days, you can take notes on a wide array of devices, including a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, and a phone. And what’s even better— With the right app, your work automatically syncs between devices.

One of my favorite writing tools is Google Docs. This free, cloud-based word processor is available on any device that connects to the Internet. Download the Google Docs app on your smartphone and then start typing (or even dictating) your notes. Your writing is automatically saved and will be instantly available on every other Internet-enabled device that can open Google Docs.

2. Write While You're Sleepy

Did you know that you’re more creative when you’re not fully awake? Before the day’s dread sets in, before your spirit has been crushed by the grinding monotony of your day job, and before your cup of coffee, you’re actually fresh, hopeful, and vibrant from a creative point of view.

I know that you need your cup of Joe to function, but research shows that you’re most open to the possibilities when your conscious mind is loading and your unconscious mind is still on duty.

Instead of waiting until you can see straight before you write, start writing as soon as you wake up. The human brain is a wonderful storyteller— your brain especially— so tap into that unconscious part of your brain to find unusual and unique ideas that you’d never come up with otherwise.

Alternatively, you may find your creativity is more accessible after a long day. Sleepy is sleepy.

Scientifically, the reason why we tend to be more creative when we’re sleepy is that we’re less focused. Relaxing our focus allows us to see a spectrum of possibilities that we often dismiss when we’re wide awake and concentrated.

3. Write While You're Drunk

Yeah, yeah. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Write drunk, edit sober,” which may or may not have originated from Ernest Hemingway. But, it’s not just a cute saying. Whoever came up with that idea was on to something. There’s research to suggest that booze boosts creativity.

Closely related to the above tip about sleepiness, being moderately intoxicated can help you come up with creative ideas. If you know what it’s like to be tipsy, you know that you can come up with some pretty crazy ideas out of nowhere. Sure, your inhibitions are lowered, but your ability to come up with new ideas is heightened. Is there any better way to explain the crap you pull when your drunk?

Just for fun (and when you’re being less productive), check out the #MyDrunkStory hashtag started by Jimmy Fallon on Twitter.

But back to why you should drink and write. It turns out that intoxicated individuals are better at creative problem solving and can solve such problems in a shorter amount of time than when sober. So, if you find yourself blocked, take a shot or a swig and come back at it. Drinking is not the answer but it may open you up to what’s possible.

4. Don't Multitask

This may surprise you, but multitasking is actually impossible for the brain to do. The brain can’t do two (or more) things at the same time. In other words, you can’t write while watching Judge Judy simultaneously (believe me, I’ve tried).

Instead of multitasking, the brain is actually quickly switching between tasks.

In reality, it takes us twice as long to accomplish a task when we multitask. We think we’re saving time by doing two or more things together when we’re actually diluting our brain’s resources by 50 percent.

This leads to higher rates of error and increased burnout.

Multitasking while writing slows our brain's access to resources and increases the likelihood of error.

5. Invest in Typing Class

Writer productivity hacks

Mavis Beacon to the rescue!

To increase your writing output, focus on the mechanics of typing. Sometimes, your productivity is reduced because you can’t type fast enough. Don’t believe me? Consider this:

The average person types about 40 words per minute. Nice.

Former American football quarterback Troy Aikman can type 80 words per minute without making a mistake. Really nice.

I can type about 97 words per minute. But who’s counting?

However, even if you can type as fast as the ticket agent on Meet the Parents, you’re still not fast enough to catch up with the speed of thought. We form thoughts at somewhere between 1000 to 3000 words per minute. Yikes.

While I don’t think it’s humanly possible to type as fast as we think (nor are there keyboards on the market that can withstand that type of pressure), it’s always possible to get faster with our typing.

By improving your typing speed, you’ll become more efficient as a writer. You can type as you think. You’ll also become more accurate in your typing. Plus, I love the rhythmic sound of typing against a keyboard, but I’m crazy like that.

If you’d like to increase your speed, try Keybr.com. Some users have more than doubled their typing speed in the course of two weeks by using this program.

6. Don't Spend Too Long on Your First Draft

To become more productive, you have to lock up your internal editor. Your internal editor will slow you down and make you second guess every creative idea that you come up with.

In fact, your internal editor can paralyze you and scare you away from writing completely.

The internal editor is a necessary part of the creative process, but he’s just not invited to attend the first draft.

When you write your first draft, editing should be the last thing on your mind. Your words should flow almost like a stream of consciousness. If that’s not what’s happening, take a shot and come back after you’re warm.

Don’t allow anything to inhibit those words from leaving your brain. It doesn’t matter if it sounds weird. Your best chance at being productive during your writing session is to actually write— not edit. Editing should come at a different, later time (and remember that we can’t actually multitask anyway).

Related Resources

Would you like even more ways to write faster? Check out these additional tips:

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