(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.

Sharon Ernst is a freelance editor and writer at www.weknowwords.com, a teacher and coach at www.betterfasterwriter.com. And a farmer and planet saver at www.literalroadfarm.com.