Ever see another writer crank out a great essay or compelling post in record time while you're there slaving over your desk for hours with only a few sentences to show for it? The secret to fast writing is preparation. It’s like training for a sport. When you see a sprinter break a record, you're only there for the few seconds of glory, but the runner has spent years in preparation for that moment. The same is true with fast writing. You can write fast too, but you’ll have to be disciplined and do the preparation necessary to finish quality work in record time.
Here's how to do it:
1. Do a lot of research before writing.
Make sure you know your topic well and have all sides of the issue covered. Examine what the experts have to say about it. Don't be satisfied with just one or two sources. Read a lot; read broadly; take in the various opinions, research and reasoning that exist on this issue. Take good notes. Write down important facts, dates, statistics and main ideas. Make a list of similar ideas and theories of different authors. Then make a list of where writers differ in their opinions and why. Begin to make links in logic and start formulating the key elements and structure of your argument.
2. Think before you write.
Spend quite a bit of time mulling over the topic in your head before you write a word. Consider all angles of the issue from the perspective of each party involved. What is at stake and why does this topic matter? To whom is it most relevant? Who is your audience? What do you have to say that's different from what other people have said? Begin to carve out your personal take on the issue and line up your arguments in defense. Visualize the entire essay from beginning to end. What examples will you use to defend your idea?
3. Discuss the topic with a friend or colleague.
After you've done your research and visualized your essay, you're ready to bounce your ideas off someone else. This can be considered a practice run for your writing to see what sticks and what needs to be worked out. A good friend or colleague can be a great devil's advocate. Have a long conversation – and hopefully even a heated debate – about your topic with someone who's game to entertain your ideas. They may present you with ideas you hadn't considered, or have a different take on a certain piece of research or event. They may also help you find holes in your logic, strengthen your supporting arguments and result in an overall tighter, more solid piece.
4. Make an outline before you write.
Make a complete outline with an introduction, thesis, supporting arguments, counter-arguments and conclusion. Make it as complete as possible. The more thorough the outline, the faster it will be for you to fill it in. John Grisham's famous outlining process allows him to write entire books in six months or less.
5. Don't edit as you write.
You've already done a good deal of waiting for the actual writing process. So now is the time to just write it all out with no holds barred. Follow your outline, consider your research and write with very few pauses (or none). Don't stop to correct spelling or grammar mistakes. Write conceptually and consider only your arguments.
After you've finished, you can go back and correct the mistakes. Use an editing tool like ProWritingAid to help you correct the technical readability issues that slipped in while you were focused on building an airtight narrative.
This entire process, including all of the preparation before writing, can take less time than if you tried to write from scratch. Being organized = being fast.