Written By David Masters

Writers: Double Your Earning Potential in the Next 30 Minutes

Using this simple thirty minute exercise, freelance writers can double their earning potential. Once you’ve tried it, you will never look back.

One of the best things about being a freelance writer is that you’re in control of what you earn.

Back when I was a student, I worked part-time in a coffee shop. My working hours were Thursday evenings and all day Saturday.

Thursday evenings were a little slow. At the time, evening shopping had yet to catch on. With only a few shoppers around, not many people needed to be served coffee. I spent most of the evening shooting the breeze with my work colleagues.

Saturdays were the complete opposite. With a constant line of customers waiting for coffee, we worked like crazy. We had sandwiches to make, dishes to wash, tables to clear. By the end of the day, I was exhausted. I went home good for nothing except slouching in front of the TV.

Even though I worked myself to exhaustion on Saturdays, I earned exactly the same per hour as on Thursdays, when work was easy-squeezey.

It didn’t seem fair, but for most people who get paid by the hour, that’s exactly how it works.

Writers have the luxury of setting their own hourly rate, within reason. The only limit is your dedication, and the speed at which you can write.

On the one hand, this can be scary. If you laze around doing nothing, you earn nothing. If you spend a full working day perfecting a paragraph, your hourly rate nosedives.

On the other hand, if you apply yourself and work hard, you can significantly boost your hourly rate.

Writers are typically paid per article, blog post or word. (Tip: If you’re being paid per hour, you need to negotiate a new contract). When you’re paid this way, the faster you write, the greater your earning potential.

What if I told you that you could double your writing speed in the next thirty minutes? If you did that, you’d also double your writing potential.

It sounds impossible, but hear me out.

Chances are, you can write a lot faster than your current writing speed. There are techniques you can use, that you can learn in a short space of time, that will significantly increase the speed at which you get words onto the page.

I can’t promise that you’ll double your writing speed, but it’s a likely outcome. Unless you’ve already tried this technique, you’ll certainly write a lot faster than you did yesterday.

When I first came across such claims, I was skeptical. At the time, it took me a full morning to plan, write and edit a short blog post. All told, my writing pace was around 100-200 words per hour.

Then I tried the techniques I’ll introduce to you in a moment. I was shocked to discover that I could write a high standard blog post in under 25 minutes. I’d more than tripled my writing speed. I could hardly contain my excitement.

You may be reading along, thinking this is all very well. But as a new writer, you have a question that’s bugging you. What’s the use of learning to write fast, if you’re still searching for writing clients? The answer to this is simple. The more you write, paid or unpaid, the easier it will be to find clients. Once you start publishing and promoting your writing, even if that’s only on your own blog, you’ll find that writing opportunities start to come your way.

The technique for writing fast is disarmingly simple. The good news is that because it’s so simple, it’s very easy to learn. The bad news is that because it’s so simple, you may be tempted to avoid trying it. Please don’t let that be you.

Essentially, writing fast involves three techniques:

  • Breaking “blank page syndrome”. One of the trickiest aspects of writing is staring at a blank page, not knowing how to start. When you write fast, you break the block of a blank page immediately. You just start, and see what happens.
  • Eliminating distractions. Learning to write fast doesn’t mean you must increase your typing speed (though typing fast helps). What you’re actually doing is improving your focus on your writing. When you just sit and write, and don’t get distracted by tidying your room, or Facebook, or the telephone ringing, you’ll find your output increases dramatically.
  • Silencing your inner critic. When you agonize over what to write, or stop writing to correct spelling mistakes, you’re paying heed to the inner critic. The inner critic has one mission: to stop you writing. Instead of listening to the inner critic, you can learn to ignore her.

Now we’ve laid the groundwork, here is the technique in a nutshell. This technique is designed for writing short articles of up to 500 words, but you can adapt it for longer projects.

The technique is based on working to a timer. You can use a kitchen timer, the countdown function on your wristwatch, or (my personal favorite), this website. Talking of websites, if you find being online distracts you from writing, you may benefit from unplugging your internet for the duration of the exercise.

The timer is the key to this exercise working. Whatever you do, don’t skip it. It’s the timer that keeps your mind focused, so you can ignore distractions and the inner critic.

1. Write Your Outline (5 minutes). You’ve got five minutes to prepare an outline for your article. This doesn’t need to be detailed, and it doesn’t need to be perfect. The main point of writing the outline is to break the mesmerising influence of the blank page. Once you’ve got something down on paper, you’ll find the rest of your words come easily.

Your outline can be as simple as:

  • The topic you’ll write the article about. Write a one sentence summary of what you want to say.
  • The question you plan to answer in your article. Then, when you come to write your article, you’ll answer the question. This gives your writing a conversational style, which helps you write faster.
  • Three words. If you can’t manage a full sentence or a question, just choose three words that capture the essence of what you want to say. Try to choose punchy verbs or specific nouns that evoke an image in your mind. If you can see it, you can write it.

As you’re trying this as an exercise to boost your writing speed, I recommend choosing a topic you’re passionate about. Once you’ve seen how it works using a personal piece of writing, you can apply it to your professional work.

When you’ve got a sentence, question, or three words written, expand your outline as best you can in the time available. What will you say in the article?

Write Your Article (15 minutes). Now you’ve got an outline, you’ve broken the curse of the blank page. You’ll find it much easier to get more words onto the page.

Set your timer for 15 minutes, and just write. Write without stopping until the timer buzzes.

There’s no magic to this step. Or if there is any magic, it’s in the act of writing.

Don’t stop for anything.

Don’t stop to correct spelling mistakes or errors in your grammar. If you find the red squiggly lines of your spell checker distracting, turn it off.

Don’t stop to think about which word you want to use. For now, the word that comes to mind is the right word.

Don’t stop if you’re worried about deviating from your outline. Follow your new train of thought in your writing and see where it leads. You can always return to your outline in a moment, or write up your outline another time.

If you’re worried about making a mess, stop worrying. The more mess you make the better.

And if you’re genuinely totally stumped for something to write, don’t stop! Keep writing. Even if all you write is “I don’t know what to write”, then write that, over and over. In the end, your brain will get bored and provide you with more material.

When the timer buzzes, stop!

3. Edit (10 minutes). Go back and read through what you’ve written. Read it through once without making any edits. If you’re anything like I was when I first tried this exercise, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

Even if you’ve created an ugly monster, don’t panic! You still might be able to redeem it. And if you can’t, it only took you 15 minutes. Every time you practice writing fast, you’ll get better at it.

On your second reading, you can start editing. Don’t correct any spelling or grammar yet. Your first edit is structural. In this edit you should:

  • Get rid of any sentences or paragraphs that aren’t relevant to the topic of your article. I recommend having another document open where you can copy and paste these to save them for later. You’ll find a use for some of them in future writing.
  • Re-structure your article so it flows well. Don’t be scared of making some heavy structural changes. Copy and paste is your friend for this stage. You may have to write an introductory paragraph and a conclusion. You may also need to write linking sentences between paragraphs.
  • Add any information that’s missing from your article.

On your third reading, you can polish up your spelling and grammar.

That’s your article in thirty minutes. Unless you were already a super-speedy writer, you’ve probably written it twice as fast as anything you’ve previously written.

So, you’ve read this far without putting pen to paper? Or you’ve skipped to the end? Writing fast is obviously a technique you’d like to learn. Why not go back and try out the exercise now? It’s 30 minutes that could change your life forever.

P.S. I’d love to hear how you get on with this exercise. Drop me an email at david@freedomwithwriting.com.


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