How Can I Write Articles Faster?

You agreed to do how many articles? Wow. Too bad you can’t clone yourself.

Imagine being asked by three editors to write three different articles – all due within days or a week of each other. How are you going to be able to handle the workload?

Having been in that position a few times, I’ve created a way to write articles with interviews smarter. With minimal effort, you can use the same method to train yourself to work smarter, which can help you complete those article assignments hours faster than it would normally take.

Here’s how I do it. It starts right at the query stage.

Streamline the Query

When I get an idea, I don’t just dash off a query without thinking. I come up with a title. From there, I create my intro, which is almost always the same one I use for the article. And I use a statistic when needed, or some study finding, if it applies.

Identify Experts

It’s not necessary, but including names of intended expert sources helps editors see what direction you plan to take. And by finding three sources at the outset, you’ve just narrowed the focus in your own head (not to mention you’ve located people to talk with).

Create Questions

Once you know your direction, take a few minutes to formulate questions. Those questions, which you intend to ask your interview sources, go into the query  you’re writing to the editor.

I try to include at least four questions, but no more than six. It’s less tedious for an editor to read. I can ask more of the interview sources, but my intention is to show the editor where I’m going, not bombard them with too much information.

Once I’ve sent the query and been given the assignment, my work at the query level begins to pay off. Here’s where all that information is used:

Contact the Experts

You don’t have to dig up their information again – it’s all in the query. Get in touch immediately and schedule phone calls. Here’s where the questions come in handy again; you send them in your initial note to the experts so they understand what the topic is. It helps them think of the best responses, which is also a time saver.

Start Writing

I don’t always wait for the experts to talk to me. I put my initial ideas on paper, including my title and intro.

Now is when you’ll do a little more research and get some preliminary work done. Before you talk to your sources, have at least 300 words of an intro written or roughed in. Also, try to frame in your subtitles.

Use Questions as Subtitles

This is the best method I know to really focus your article and trim the fat from your writing.

My questions in my query are my subtitles. For example, my last article included this question: What’s missing in a retailer’s sales process? That became this subtitle: The Sales Process: What’s Missing? It doesn’t need to be rocket science – keep it simple.

Record and take notes

Once you get your source on the phone, record the conversation (with source permission always – and get that permission on tape, as well). While they’re talking, write quick notes.

When they say something you think will fit the article, put a star next to it and write down the time stamp on the recorder. When you add their quotes to the article, you can find the relevant ones that much faster.

Fill in the blanks

Because you’ve set up your article in sections, you can now go through each interview and add quotes and research to fill up each section. It’s not cheating to do it this way, either. You’re answering the questions you promised, and by focusing on each question as a section, you’ll be able to eliminate the information that’s not relevant.

That’s it. Using this method verbatim isn’t necessary if you’d rather ease into it. But if you adopt even one of these strategies, you’ll find the writing going just a little more smoothly.

Writers, how have you made your writing process easier?

Lori Widmer is a veteran freelance writer and editor who has been freelancing full time since 2003 (and part time for years before that). She specializes in technical business topics, and has published poetry. Her e-book Marketing 365: Daily Strategies for Entrepreneurs and Small Business is available on Smashwords. She has perfected a wicked four-finger whistle. Lori blogs about writing at Words on the Page.

Leave a Reply


Precious advice, Lori. Preparing well in advance always serve writers the best. Thanks for sharing your great insight.Reply to Sabita
So true, Nimu! Organizing it helps you write faster.Reply to Lori
Thanks for this article, it was so helpful. I have come to realize that you cannot rush creativity.Reply to Nimu
Thanks for having me, Elna! I’ve done more than I can count. I’m always looking for ways to make it easier and more efficient. So far, this method has cut my time invested in writing an article down by almost three hours. I don’t transcribe interviews unless I need to. I won’t say across the board I don’t, but when I’m writing a number of articles at once, I look for ways to simplify. The taping of the interview helps should I need more info. Note-taking is my backup should the recorder die, and it’s my way of jotting down the main points and locating the right info quickly.Reply to Lori
Lori, Thanks for contributing to FreelancerFAQ’s! I’ve never done an interview before, but when I do, this will come in handy! Thanks ElnaReply to Elna