Here’s a post by Angela Booth on FAST WRITING (via Anne). Angela recommends creating a checklist for yourself, a process. She suggests a process in which she brainstorms, writes an outline, gets data, writes more of a draft. A key component of her list that I want to point out is “leave it for a day or longer.” Then she returns and completes other editing. Using her system, you would probably re-read the intro paragraph, say oh, five-twenty times. That would mean that you’d have five-twenty opportunities to rewrite something! Maybe writing faster is not about speed, but about easy editing. Like putting on layers of clothing before going outside in the winter, maybe writing faster is about putting on layers of betterment to your writing. And the more layers, the more opportunity to improve.

Here’s a post by Idea Matt on FAST READING (these specific ideas are from Jason Womack). Jason says “he reads a book four times:

  1. Table of contents, glossary, index.
  2. Anything in bold, titles, and subtitles.
  3. First line of every paragraph.
  4. Entire book

Here’s the twist: Steps 1-3 should only take about 10 minutes.”

Ok, see the similarity to the faster writing? You may be starting to suspect that the above two tips are not only about faster writing and reading, but also about more thorough writing and reading. Why are the above two methods more thorough? Because you review the material again, and again, and again. In the outline, in the TOC, in re-reading the same sections when you edit.

So…. there’s a fun little conclusion we can make from the above two faster tips.

You know more when you review material fairly frequently. Here’s an example: I put together a workshop on “Why Optimism Is Good for your Health” last week. I put the workshop together in a week and presented it. Then I think back to it today to review it in my head in preparation for giving the workshop again to a new audience, and – guess what?! – it’s a little hazy. Not a lot hazy. I could probably recreate the slides without looking at them again, but a bit hazy – it would take me time. Why is this? Because I did my presentation writing and rewriting and creating all in one fell swoop. I didn’t really break it up into segments or smaller chunks. I didn’t do the “let it sit for a day or two.”

Here’s a question for you:

If you have a choice of repeating something MORE OFTEN or FOR A LONGER PERIOD OF TIME, which do you think will help you know the information better?

Bing bing bing! You got it. MORE OFTEN. You can see what I wrote here about the immense, powerful benefits of daily action. Remember, musicians often recommend that you practice in two sessions of 15 minutes rather than in one of 30 minutes.

Do whatever is important to you – do that repeatedly, regularly – do it so it’s second nature. :) ENJOY!


  1. Posted Tuesday April 10, 2007 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Thanks very much for the link. Great stuff!

    First, I’m a fan of Martin Seligman’s work on learned optimism, and I’d love to see a summary of your presentation. Also, I’m reading “One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way” by Robert Maurer, and I really like the idea of taking frequent, small actions to make habits and steady progress. More at A key to continuous learning: Keep a decision log.

    Second, you might enjoy my recent post A reading workflow based on Leveen’s “Little Guide”, which describes the reading idea in more detail.


  2. Posted Tuesday April 10, 2007 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Hi Matt, thanks for the thoughtful response. I really like your post about the decision log, and I like your mainstay post about the big text file you have. And the Little Guide looks just like what I was referencing in this post – thank you for those great links! S.

  3. Posted Friday May 11, 2007 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    The title intrigued me because I’ve been saying that I don’t have enough time to blog, so I wanted to learn to write faster, but I really need to do it MORE OFTEN.

    Here’s the process I’m going to try:

    1) Brainstorm for ideas for today or future posts
    2) Write one
    3) Edit and post the one I wrote yesterday (I love the tip about leaving it for a day)
    4) Repeat tomorrow

    I’m going to give myself 10 minutes for steps 1-3, but I think with practice it will go much faster, and I’ll be posting more regularly.

    Thanks for the great ideas!

  4. Posted Friday May 11, 2007 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    That’s wonderful, Judi! Thanks for making the steps even more concrete.

    And I really like how you’re going to make the earlier steps take only 10 minutes. When you create good constraints like this, then it makes the entire process simpler to put into action. Nice on a Friday! Best, Senia