Whether you’re a professional writer or just trying to get your work done faster, improving your writing speed is one of the easiest ways to increase your productivity. However, there’s more to fast writing than fast typing.
In order to improve your overall writing speed, you must consider how fast your fingers can move across the keys (i.e., your typing speed) along with your ability to properly plan, effectively research, and cohesively assemble content. Here’s my advice to get faster at all of these aspects so that you can write more, and better, in less time.
How To Improve Your Typing Speed
When most people opt to improve their writing speed, the first thing they look at is how quick they can type. This is a logical train of thought, and you certainly need to consider your typing speed if you want to be a more efficient writer. However, you need to have a baseline to measure yourself against.
What's A "Good" Typing Speed?
According to multiple sources, the average person types around 40 words per minute (WPM). However, I believe that computer savvy individuals generally type a lot faster. Those same sources say that a broad group of people classified as “professional typists,” which I assume are people who type regularly as part of their job, can type speeds up to 75 words per minute.
I took the typing test on that page and clocked in at around 92 words per minute with 96% accuracy. When I write normally, I typically look down at the keyboard rather than at words on the screen, which means I can type more accurately (and, therefore, even faster) if I am writing something like an email or other short piece where I know what I want to say without referencing any materials on screen.
With all of this in mind, any speed over 70 words per minute is generally considered good. Even though I can type faster and you probably can, too, you won’t always be typing at top speed when writing in real-world situations simply because you will be researching throughout the project and thinking about what to say next.
For that reason, I say aim for about 70 WPM and then work on the other aspects of writing faster before you come back to further improve your typing speed.
Practice Typing Faster
If you cannot yet type 70 WPM or you’re trying to type faster than that, online typing speed tests aren’t the best place to gain speed or accuracy. These tests are designed to measure your typing speed, not necessarily improve it.
If you want to improve your typing, I’d start by taking online typing lessons, like the free ones you’ll find here. These will teach you “touch typing,” which is a technique that enables you to type using muscle memory so you don’t have to look down and find the keys visually when writing.
If your fingers already know where the keys are but you want to improve your accuracy, that’s when I would suggest getting into more standardized typing tests that use fully formed words. I like the ones offered by Typing Academy, but you can find them all over the internet.
How To Improve Your Writing Speed Overall
As I said before, typing speed is far from the only element that impacts your overall writing speed. Once your fingers can type at a good speed, you need to look into speeding up the other aspects of your writing process. This advice should help you shave time off the writing process as a whole.
Create A Template for Your Projects
If you consistently create a certain type of content, like eBooks, you’ll find yourself saving a lot of time if you go ahead and create some templates for yourself to use. When I first started writing eBooks and long-form guides for my clients, I created a Word document with a title page, table of contents, and works cited page already laid out.
This template also included the correct fonts, margins, and page numbering system I needed for every eBook I have created since then. Taking the time to make this template has saved me many cumulative hours of tedious work, so I encourage you to make templates for any content type that you find yourself structuring repeatedly.
Outline Before You Start Writing
One of the best tips I can give for writing faster is laying out a plan before you begin. This saves you so much time because it gets the preliminary research out of the way and provides guidance as you write each piece of whatever you’re creating.
Outlining is widely considered a must-do for books and other large projects, but I personally use it for all sorts of writing projects–including articles like this one. By deciding on sub-headings in advance, I can go ahead and begin structuring the piece in a cohesive way.
Once I start writing, the outline ensures that the research process flows more smoothly and it saves time during the editing stage, too. Content that has been planned in advance won’t need nearly as much editing or restructuring as content that was written at random and structured as you went along.
Be A More Efficient Researcher
The next element of writing that can slow you down is the research process. Thorough research is vital to any project, but it can quickly drain your productivity if you don’t utilize proper techniques.
After spending over six years researching and writing both eBooks and articles, I can say that I’ve learned a number of strategies to speed up the research process without compromising accuracy or depth.
With most research being conducted online, the best thing you can do is learn how to quickly determine whether or not a website is credible. We all know to avoid Wikipedia and other user-sourced databases, but any website could contain inaccurate information.
Choosing to conduct research using authoritative sources, like established institutions and industry experts, will speed up the vetting process tremendously and it will probably lead you to more complete and accurate information to guide your writing, further reducing the time you spend trudging around the internet while giving you more time to actually produce great content.