In the age of ChatGPT, the answer to “how long does it take you to write a blog post?” can be anywhere between 10 minutes and 10 hours – depending on who you talk to.
But if you’re reading a SERP Builders article, I’m going to assume you want to produce quality content 😉
According to Orbit Media, bloggers spent an average of 3 hours and 51 minutes writing a blog post in 2023. While that’s 1 hour and 27 minutes longer than it took in 2014, it’s actually 19 minutes less than in 2022 (thanks ChatGPT!)
ChatGPT can help you write faster (without sacrificing quality) – and that’s why it’s my first tip to write faster in this article.
But there are at least 13 other ways to write faster, too.
By implementing what I’m about to share with you, I’ve cut my writing time by more than 30%, and at the same time, the quality of my content has improved!
So, without further ado, here are the tips:
1. Use ChatGPT – the right way
This can be an article (or multiple articles) by itself, but I’ll keep this short and sweet and focus on giving you food for thought in this section.
While ChatGPT is currently not great at providing unique insights, it is very good at helping you write faster.
Here are a few ways to do that:
- Use the tool for research. For example, you can ask about recent developments in your industry.
- Write a very rough, stream-of-consciousness first draft, and have ChatGPT improve the content. Don’t forget to provide your style guide, too. Then, let ChatGPT go to work – you might get a lot of useful word-for-word output and inspiration.
- Feed ChatGPT interviews with subject matter experts (SMEs) and ask for key takeaways. You may need to feed longer pieces of text – like interviews – in multiple prompts to circumvent limits, but it’s worth the effort.
- Get help with your introduction. I write my introduction after writing the rest of the article – and I know I’m not alone. It’s hard to write a good introduction, but… ChatGPT to the rescue! Feed ChatGPT your intro-less article and ask for 3 introductions. You’ll probably get something useful.
Those are a few things that have worked for me, and I think you can get some value from them, but I recommend playing around with ChatGPT to find the best way for you to create content for your site.
2. Create an ergonomically correct workspace
Are you constantly hunched over your laptop? Even if you aren’t dealing with back or neck pain (yet), you may be sacrificing writing speed because bad posture can cause poor balance, headaches, and breathing difficulties.
Here’s what you need:
- Quality desk
- Comfortable chair
- Roost stand
- Bluetooth keyboard
- Bluetooth mouse
You may have to spend $400+ on all of this, but your productivity will improve – and your body will thank you.
3. Understand that perfection is the enemy of good
Your blog post is your baby, so you want it to be perfect. But there’s a fast way to approach perfection and a slow way to approach perfection.
Here’s the slow way: you agonize over every word while you’re writing the first draft. You write an incredible piece, but it ends up taking you countless hours.
The fast way to write a nearly perfect blog post is to write a rough first draft. Something that is 80% of the way there. You get all of your ideas onto the Google Doc, and then, at the end, you polish it up to get it all the way there. It’s a lot easier to get that “last 20%” the second time around vs. the first time around.
4. Make use of placeholders and notes
One of the most common words – or combinations of characters – in my first draft is “TK.” In journalist circles, it means “to come.” Instead of pausing and researching every time you need to find a fact or stopping and thinking every time you can’t find the right words, it’s ultimately faster to write “TK” and figure it all out at the end.
You may be wondering: shouldn’t it be “TC?” Well, apparently the “TK” letter combination is uncommon in the English language, so by writing it like that, it’s easier to search the document for placeholders when you’re done.
What about when you aren’t sure if you’re using a word the right way? In that case, you can insert a comment that says, “is this right?” and look them all up in an online dictionary at the end.
5. Write every day
How does a basketball player learn to dribble the ball between their legs faster? By practicing it.
It’s the same for writers: the best way to learn to write faster is by writing more – ideally every day.
What if you don’t have writing work to do every day? Find another outlet. It could be your personal blog, diary, posting on LinkedIn, or whatever else.
By writing every day, you get faster at making connections between different ideas in your mind, which is largely responsible for writing speed.
But it’s best not to leave a daily writing habit to pure chance. Create a system. I like Jerry Seinfeld’s daily writing productivity hack: he has a big wall calendar (yes, they still exist) and each day he writes, he puts a big “X” over that day. If you keep at it, you’ll start building a chain. It will feel good to add to the chain, and terrible to break the chain… helping you to continue writing every day.
6. Write at the right time
I write fastest in the morning. Others write fastest in the afternoon or evening. To find out when you write fastest, you have to experiment a lot.
What I mean is that you can’t just write three posts – one each in the morning, afternoon, and night – and based on which post you wrote in the least amount of time, pick that time of day for future writing sessions.
Even if the posts were the same length and on the same subject, you should still write at least 5-10 posts at each time of the day before deciding. The time spent could have been impacted by how well you knew the subject before you started writing, how many statistics you gathered, what you ate for breakfast that day, how much you slept the night before, or any of an infinite number of factors.
Bottom line: get enough data before settling on a time of day to schedule writing sessions.
7. Experiment with the order in which you write parts of the article
When I first started writing, I didn’t even give the order in which I wrote parts of my articles a second thought. It seemed obvious: write the intro, then the body, and finally, the conclusion.
But then another writer told me that he writes the intro last because it’s easier to give readers a preview of the article after it’s fully fleshed out. It was a lightbulb moment for me, and ever since, I’ve written my intros last and saved a lot of time.
Now, again, it might be different for you, and that’s why you need to experiment. You won’t know if it’s fastest for you to write the intro first or last until you try both ways.
8. Find the right setting to work
Yeah… more experimentation. This section is about finding the right setting to work. For some, they write faster in a bustling coffee shop. Others (myself included) prefer a quiet home office.
Then there’s the type of noise. You probably don’t write fast when there’s loud construction around you, but maybe there’s a soundtrack that helps you write faster. I don’t like to listen to music while I work, but if you do, you may want to try out Focus@Will – Ed Gandia says it has increased his productivity a lot.
9. Turn off spelling and grammar checks… until you finish writing the first draft
Here’s a situation that every writer has encountered: the appearance of the dreaded squiggly red line. You think, “Oh no, did I make a mistake?” Whether you made an error or the program simply doesn’t recognize a person’s last name or city is besides the point. Either way, that line is stopping you.
You fix your error or add the word to your dictionary, and then you have to switch back to creativity mode. Maybe you lost a minute. That may not sound like much, but if that happens 10x during each writing session, it could really slow you down.
Reading other writers’ articles is a great way to become a better writer. By getting exposure to different writing styles, vocabulary, and ideas, you add more tools to your writing toolbox.
11. Create a detailed outline before you start
One of the biggest reasons why writers get writer’s block is due to not having an outline. At the very least, you should determine your headers and main points before you get started on your first draft, but I personally take it a step further and have gotten excellent results.
Here’s what I do:
Before I’ve written a single paragraph that will become a part of my final draft, I create an extremely detailed outline that not only includes the headers and main points, but also includes rough notes about virtually everything I’d like to include in each section.
This part of my process is incredibly free flowing; I just write whatever comes to mind in my Google Doc in the appropriate section. A lot of it is scrapped and that’s perfectly fine. The goal is to freely create and then prune. It’s much easier to come up with ten ideas and then pick the best five than it is to create five quality ideas the first time around.
12. Take a walk if you’re stuck
Isn’t this article about writing faster? How does taking a walk when you’re stuck help with that?
Here’s the thing:
If you’ve hit a wall, and the words have just stopped coming out of your mind, then it’s better to take a walk around the block. There are plenty of studies and great minds that have concluded that walking helps us think.
You might be skeptical, but give it a shot. Try to think of it like this: it’s better to take a 10 minute walk around the block that clarifies your thinking than to stare at your screen and write nothing for 30 minutes.
13. Eliminate distractions
Having your phone on your desk is probably standing between you and fast writing.
Okay… tell me something I don’t know, you say.
You know this, but you probably still keep your phone within arm’s reach.
Here’s my (arguably) extreme solution:
I turn my phone off and put it in another room.
Some have success putting their phones on airplane mode and keeping it on their desk. I tried it, but my phone was still calling out to me and it was too easy to reach for it and switch off airplane mode. Turning it off and putting it in another room has dramatically reduced the number of times I’ve used my phone during writing sessions.
14. Set deadlines
If you’re a journalist, you can skip this section, but many of us typically have more time than we need to create content… which ends up causing it to take longer to create it. As Cyril Northcote Parkinson said, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
If a client or boss isn’t breathing down your neck, you should create your own deadlines. The key is to be reasonable: if you commit to publishing two articles at the end of every day, you’re probably not going to be able to stick with it… and you might ultimately end up publishing very few, if any posts. If, on the other hand, you commit to more reasonable deadlines, you have a better chance at long-term sustainability.
There you have it – 14 tips to write faster!
Remember that writing faster without sacrificing quality requires experimentation. What works for me and other writers won’t always work for you. That obviously applies to the time of day, order of writing, and setting, but it also applies to the other tips. For example, when you get stuck, maybe a walk to the water cooler is enough to get the creative juices flowing again, and you don’t need to take a walk around the block.
Create a process that works for you.
The potential benefit is immense. Let’s say you are currently taking 4 hours to write a blog post. If you can reduce your time spent on each blog post by 20% and you write one blog post per week, you would save a shade over 40 hours per year.
Not bad, eh?