(Originally published June 2017) 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…
The story of how I learned to write faster and faster
Once upon a time, this freelance copywriter fell on hard times. That’d be during the post 2008 recession when every single one of my high-tech clients 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. Specifically, 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 now being paid $5/post.
“I had been a $120/hour copywriter. I was now being paid $5/post.”
That meant 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 who would pay me what I was worth.
And that’s what 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 still 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.
Why am I telling you this embarrassing story?
I tell you this story to emphasize the importance of practice, practice, practice to become a better, faster writer.
I don’t suggest you take on a job like this. It was demeaning and I hope I never have to stoop that low ever again. But I do suggest you look for ways to do something similar. And there are other ways to practice writing without feeling like a sellout, like:
- Start journaling on your own time and write as fast as you can.
- Google “writing prompts” and do those for a set number of days.
- Volunteer for writing assignments through work and service activities.
- Set a time limit when you start to write something for work, and challenge yourself to do it in less time than usual.
- Try to cut the time you spend on emails at work in half.
When you do this kind of practice, however, here’s the most important thing to remember: Don’t get hung up on “good” writing.
You’re writing more and faster for practice and practice only. The “good” will follow.
For now, just write and write and write and write.