Clever writing hacks for professionals.


Posted May 22, 2018

Writing can be hard. Not only is it challenging work that demands its own set of skills and expertise, it can be surprisingly exhausting and time-consuming to write even simple pieces. How many times have you set out to write something “quick” – anything from an email to a report – and found yourself still tweaking it an hours later? Well, today we’re going to ease your efforts with these effective and efficient writing tips. Here’s a list of some of our favorite writing “hacks” that you can use to make the act of writing faster, easier, or otherwise more effective.

Use a timer when you write.

If you’ve ever stared at a blank page and found yourself overwhelmed by the temptation to do anything else, try writing in short bursts with a timer. Set it for 20 or 25 minutes and just get started, knowing you’ll take a break when the timer rings.

Start with a list.

Blank pages can be very intimidating, and to go from nothing to a finished draft can feel impossibly difficult. So, start with something simple and straightforward: make a bulleted list. You might list facts that need to go into the piece, or perhaps questions the finished piece needs to answer. That list can then serve as a proto-outline, giving you a basic structure from which you can build.

Write a “fast draft” first.

Often the biggest hurdles to writing well are psychological. We want to write well, and we want to do so from the very beginning. Forget that! Instead, write a “fast draft” where you produce a complete draft as quickly as possible, knowing that it will be rough and uneven – more like a rough sketch than a draft.

Don’t do research when writing.

One of the best ways to keep yourself on track: don’t go down rabbit holes in the middle of writing. If you need to look up a piece of information, make a note in the document and come back to it after you’ve finished your draft or revision.

Use placeholders.

As a corollary to the previous hack, use placeholders throughout your writing. If you’re not sure what to say in a section, put a placeholder that says something like, “Need to add explanation here” or even just “more content here.” The benefit of placeholders is that they keep the drafting process moving.

Write down distractions.

If you find yourself frequently pulled away from the writing task by distractions, develop the habit of writing down the distraction first. Sometimes just articulating the distraction is enough to remind you that it is a distraction. Other times, it might be something you genuinely need to do…later. The written list will remind you. Follow these writing hacks and you may begin to see an improvement in the efficiency and effectiveness of your writing.
About Hurley Write, Inc.
Hurley Write, Inc., a certified women-owned small business (WBENC and WOSB), Historically Underutilized (HUB), and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), has been designing and teaching customized onsite and online technical, business, and scientific writing courses for over 25 years. We also develop and teach specialty courses, such as how to write proposals and standard operating procedures (SOPs) and deviation and investigation reports, and how to prepare and give great presentations.