Ever wonder what the Olympic Games would look like for freelancers? If it’s anything like the Super-G in skiing, it comes down to one thing…write faster.
I started freelancing at 17 years old. Young, right?
In case you didn’t know, that’s how old Lindsey Vonn was when she competed in her first Olympic Games. And she was fast.
By 17, I could throw a blazing fast softball. And if I could learn how to do that, I knew I could learn the business and craft of freelance writing.
I was fired up. I hustled. I sent out tons of pitches. I made mistakes. It’s the same kind of learning process every Olympic athlete goes through to get better, and carry the torch to the cauldron.
At first it was hard. Boosting productivity was a big concern. And I needed to learn how to write faster, yet still write well.
So I did what any Olympic writer would do. I took apart my writing process turn by turn, made it better, and learned to write faster. Here’s how:
Write faster, earn more money
If you can learn to write faster, and still write well, you can make more money. It’s that simple.
As a home-school graduate in my first year of college, I went from earning zero dollars to making $1,000 a month freelancing part time. Maybe that’s not a lot of money to some people, but at my age it’s nothing to sneeze at. And I’m just getting started.
How did I do it? These four tips help me write faster:
1. Take breaks to write faster
Here’s how Ernest Hemingway puts it: “When the words are flowing, walk away.”
This may seem counterintuitive, but it actually makes a lot of sense (that is, unless your deadline is tonight). Only stop writing when you know what you’re going to say next.
- Think about the client project you’re working on. What do you need to add or include to finish the article, white paper, case study, web copy, etc.? Take a break. Then come back and write, and you’ll get the assignment done faster.
After five years of starting many novels but never finishing them—and five years of walking away when I was stuck—the light finally dawned. Maybe I should try this. Big surprise: it worked.
My debut historical fiction novel, Hope Is The Thing With Feathers, was selected out of thousands of entries in the Story Shares contest and published as a paperback in July 2017. Last month, it won the Story Shares Bestseller Contest and came out as a hardback.
2. Research and outline
When I landed a gig to write health and fitness articles about CrossFit, I didn’t know a lot about the sport or CrossFit culture. If you land a gig to write articles in a niche you don’t know a lot about, here’s what I would do to write faster:
- Do your homework to learn more about the niche
- Brainstorm ideas
- Write an article outline
- Get the content, research, and interviews you need
- Resist the urge to start writing until these things are complete
That’s how I approached writing for my CrossFit client. Once I had several articles planned out and all the information I needed, sitting down to write was easy. Separating research and writing into different tasks helped me write faster.
3. Track your progress
Lindsey Vonn didn’t win any medals at her first Olympic Games. But it served as a starting point that allowed her to track her progress, improve her training, and dominate ski racing.
- If you want to write faster, track your progress. Pick a metric that’s meaningful to you like words per hour or pages per day. Then aim to improve each time you write.
I recently landed a client that hired me to write an ebook on yoga. I wasn’t sure I could meet the deadline. But instead of panicking, I did something else. I set a timer to go off every hour, then averaged how many words I wrote in an hour. Once I had that baseline number, the deadline didn’t seem as scary. I was able to write faster, and actually finished the project ahead of time.
4. Keep it simple
When I started writing for a devotional website about a year ago, I made the newbie mistake of using fancy language to talk to readers. Guess what? People are more likely to click away if your words are over their heads, too academic, overwritten, too salesy…you get the idea.
Know your audience and the voice of your client. And keep it simple. Using simple language will save you time, help you write faster, and be more effective at engaging readers and making clients happy.
Fired-up for freelance success
As a young, fired-up freelancer, I’ve learned a lot from trial and error over the past year. And I’ve still got a lot to learn. But if I could go back and give my 17-year-old self a piece of advice, it’s this: Learn to write faster, and you can earn more money.
Hailey Hudson is an 18-year-old author, blogger, and freelance writer from the mountains of north Georgia. She loves Jesus, Harry Potter, and her beagle puppy named Sophie.