How I Wrote 3,800 Words In One Day

On Wednesday I hit a new personal best:

I cranked out 3,800 words in one day.

That included:

  • 1 email (450 words)
  • 1/4 blog post (200 words)
  • 1/2 sales page (3,150 words)

In the past I’ve struggled with being a slow writer. And there are still plenty of days where writing is like yanking out my own teeth with a pair of pliers. (More on this later.)

Here are 3 tips that helped me do this:

1. Use a template or formula.

The #1 rule of writing fast is: “Know what you’re going to say.”

For sales pages, I have a template in mind when I’m writing. There are maybe 10-15 elements that I know I’m going to include, so I don’t have to think about the structure.

I know what parts go where, and I’m shaping my copy to that template.

2. Spend 80% of your time preparing, and 20% of your time writing.

This goes back to that #1 rule above. For this sales letter I’m working on, I’ve already put in at least 60-80 solid hours of reading and research.

Typically I’ll do this until everything I’ve read starts to gel in my mind, and I see how the pieces will fit into the sales letter template.

Depending on what I’m writing, prep might include creating a detailed outline. For sales letters, I find I don’t need to do that—the template is my outline, so I just need a few bullet points and then the sales letter flows.

3. Use a timer.

I’m a big proponent of the Pomodoro Technique—working in short, focused bursts with timed breaks.

I find that committing to a set number of work periods helps me concentrate and stay in the flow. I can write for 6-8 “pomodoros,” and after that I start to fade.

The best book I’ve read about increasing your writing speed is 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. It’s aimed at fiction writers, but the lessons apply to nonfiction as well.

P.S. Lest this entire email come off like a big brag:

Yesterday—Thursday—I crashed and burned. I struggled to finish two emails, and barely eeked out 1,000 words for the entire day.

It happens.