Here’s a tip for young players … if you want to write essays/term papers/business documents/anything faster (and produce a better outcome) then listen up.

To write faster and better you need to break your work down into two parts (assuming you already have a vague idea of what you’re writing about):

Firstly, you must write. And only write.

This means you start writing and do not stop until your idea is “exhausted”. Even if you see the red squiggly proofing line in Word, do not go back and edit. To hell with paragraphs, correct spelling, sentence structure etc; the aim is to get better ideas down on the page in less time.

So if you’ve come up with a great argument for a particular section of your essay, then focus entirely on getting your argument down on the page … no matter how “ugly” it might look. DO NOT (I repeat DO NOT) backtrack and rewrite so much as a single word. The focus here is getting your ideas to paper/screen as efficiently as possible, regardless of presentation.

Secondly, you go back and proofread/edit your work.

When I first wrote college papers I would attempt to write each paragraph and proof/edit at the same time. Now I do all my proofing and editing after the writing is complete; sometimes even the next day!

This approach makes your writing so much faster and fluid because you don’t break your natural flow. It’s a bit like a pro musician playing to a live audience; if they make a mistake they tend to roll with it and not allow an interruption to their flow. Furthermore, you can focus fully on writing first, and then change to a more analytical/technical mindset for proofing and editing.

I now write with the iA Writer app (on my computer and iPad) that removes distracting formatting and proofing options, and try to complete entire blog posts/book chapters etc before even thinking about editing and tweaking.

Multi-tasking reduces your effectiveness at just about everything, including writing. So quit doing it and focus on ideas first, and presentation second.