The story I am about to tell you is true, although embarrassing. But I share it because there’s an important lesson to be learned here about becoming a better faster writer…
Once upon a time, this freelance copywriter fell on some hard times. That’d be post 2008 recession when every single high tech client disappeared. As a single mom who still had to pay the bills, I took on some writing work I can only describe as gross to tide me over until the economy improved. No, not that kind of gross, but for someone who wrote marketing copy for a living, it was enough to make me nauseous.
What was this dreaded deed I had to resort to? It can best be described as bulk blogging. I was tasked with writing 500 blog posts per month on household electronics and appliances. And I was paid $5/post. So let’s do the math here: I had been a $120/hour copywriter. I was being paid $5/post. I had to write those posts as fast as I possibly could in order to make the job make financial sense so I could still do other better-paying jobs and look for new clients.
So I did. I wrote those posts very quickly. Not at first! But I got faster, and faster, and faster. Soon I was writing 10 posts per hour, and that included finding and adding photographs and URLs, as well as using keywords for SEO. To this day, I can’t believe I got that fast!
I hated that job — hated, hated, hated it. It wasn’t real writing. It was nothing I could take any pride in. I felt dirty and gross after writing 25 posts every morning. But it helped pay the bills.
And guess what? I became a better, faster writer. My typing speed improved. My ability to write clearly and concisely (and still at least a little creatively) improved. I had been a professional writer and copywriter for over a decade at that point. Yet I obviously still had room to improve. Writing that kind of quantity in such a short time made a difference.
I tell you this story to emphasize the importance of practice, practice, practice for becoming a better, faster writer. Perhaps at work you’re not able to simply churn out content like I did with that blogging job. But there are other ways to get more practice. Maybe start journaling on your own time. Volunteer for writing assignments through work and service activities. Also emphasize the speed. Maybe set a time limit when you start to write something for work, and challenge yourself to do it in less time than usual. Perhaps you try to cut the time you spend on emails at work in half.
When you’re writing more, don’t get hung up on “good” writing. You’re doing more writing for practice and practice only. The “good” will follow.
For now, just write and write and write and write.