Write every day.
How many times have you heard that advice?
It’s important. The more you write, the quicker you’ll hone your skills and improve what you do. And, the better writer you are, the easier it is to earn the income you want.
When you’re new, to make your daily writing habit stick, it’s best to put it on your calendar and treat it like a client meeting.
Once you have clients and projects and deadlines, writing every day isn’t a habit. It’s a necessity.
If you want to make your clients happy and deliver good work on time, it takes a daily commitment (or, at least, that’s been my experience). So, the writing-every-day advice gets heeded without your even thinking about it.
But, whether you’re new to writing or you’ve been at this a while and you’re earning a solid living, there’s a type of writing you can do each day that will clarify your thinking, uncover new ideas, provide lots of fodder for your own content and marketing materials, and improve your writing skill and speed.
Sounds pretty amazing, right?
It’s also super simple. Anyone can do it. It doesn’t matter your skill or experience level… you will get great things out of the exercise.
I know… I know… enough already. What is this simple, powerful writing technique, you ask?
It’s fast writing.
What the heck is fast writing?
It’s hardly ground-breaking. You probably do it already from time to time.
You simply sit down at your computer — or, if you want to go old-school, you can use pen and paper. Then you set a timer for 15 minutes. And you write nonstop and without censoring yourself until the timer runs out.
Hey, I said it was simple. Not easy.
Writing nonstop is hard. You have to let go of any notion of being perfect in what you put down on the page. And, writing nonstop without censoring is especially hard, because we want to fix everything we recognize as not being quite right… and, we want to fix it right now.
By doing a fast write every day, either before you begin your work or at the end of the day before you wrap up, you’ll train yourself to get out of your own way when you write.
That alone is reason enough to set aside 15 minutes a day.
When you learn to write without editing as you go, you’ll see a big jump in your productivity.
You’ll also notice you start having better ideas. That’s because the writing process uses the creative side of your brain, and the editing process uses the analytical side of your brain.
If you keep shifting out of writing mode into editing mode every two or three minutes, you never really let your creative juices flow freely. You deny yourself full access to your creative zone. And that means, even if you do good work, you won’t be doing your best work.
But, when you give yourself more time in your creative zone, your writing ideas start to get more interesting, fresher, and more original.
Writing this way has another benefit, too…
We humans live for pretty much two things. (Okay, there are probably more, but these two are certain.) We live for connections with other people and experiencing the creative flow state… that mental state where time doesn’t seem to exist, you’re completely unself-conscious, and everything just seems more right than usual.
Flow state can happen in all sorts of activities… from hosting a dinner party to playing music to walking in nature. And of course, writing.
Allowing yourself to write without editing, as the 15-minute fast write trains you to do, will give you readier access to your creative flow state.
But, the benefits of this exercise don’t stop there.
Clarify your thoughts, and everything gets easier
You can use your fast write time to gain clarity on anything that’s giving you trouble or that you’re having a hard time expressing.
You know how sometimes you have an idea, but when you try to share it with other people, you have a hard time conveying the weight or importance or beauty of it. It’s a frustrating feeling.
It’s so obvious to you that what you’re trying to explain can be transformative. But, you just can’t make the other people see it. What’s worse is you know it’s a weakness in your own communication that’s making it so hard to share it in the impactful way you mean to.
When you find yourself in that situation, at the beginning of your daily fast write, think about that problem, topic, or idea for a minute or two.
And then, start your fast write.
Because of the fluid nature of the fast write and because you aren’t allowed to stop writing and think about what you’re trying to say… you’ll find that sometimes your thoughts begin to organize themselves in unexpected ways. By the end of the session, you may just have the answer you’ve been looking for… the perfect expression of a big and important idea.
Say good-bye to writer’s block
When you fast write like this every day, another fun thing starts to happen. Writing just gets easier. You’re so versed in the experience of sitting down in front of a blank page and filling it, that when you sit down to work on a project, the words just start coming.
Is it going to be ground-breaking work every time? Of course not.
But almost every time, it will be work that moves you forward, which means you’ll have an easier time staying in front of your deadlines and might even find you start completing some work ahead of schedule. How cool will that be!
Fill your editorial calendar
The fast write is also a great tool for coming up with ideas for your blog, your marketing materials, or your client’s blog or email newsletter.
A blog is a big commitment. Your readers expect to hear from you on a regular basis.
That can be daunting. What if you run out of things to say?
The 15-minute fast write can put an end to that worry. Make one or two of your sessions each week about generating ideas based on recent experiences, conversations, or things you’ve read.
With that in mind, begin your fast write and just start listing ideas… nonstop, of course.
You’ll be surprised at how many ideas you’re able to list off in 15 minutes, when you put this kind of pressure and constriction on yourself. And, you’ll be even more surprised by how many of the ideas are useful and fresh. They won’t all be. But, if you come away from each fast write session with even just five workable ideas, that’s going to accumulate.
Within a few weeks you’ll have a running list of interesting and useful ideas for your calendar or for your client’s.
Writing every day is a great habit to get into. But, once you’re writing every day for clients, make sure you’re still spending time each day writing for yourself.
By doing a 15-minute fast write, you’ll tick that box… and you’ll come up with more high-quality ideas… and you’ll improve your writing skill and speed. It’s totally worth the tiny time commitment.
Give it a go for one week and see what you think. Then share your experiences in the comments below.