Beat-down the deadline: how to write more stuff in less time

In an ideal world, copy comes quick and easy every time. But this is reality and – especially for B2B copywriters – there are obstacles aplenty. So let’s learn to avoid them…

Beat-down the deadline: how to write more stuff in less time

Regardless of the audience you’re writing for, creating informed and engaging content takes time. But sometimes, time is exactly what you don’t have – so what do you do?

Talking to colleagues, it became clear we’d all encountered time issues at one point or another (and besides, who doesn’t like to help a client in distress?). So, rather than let other B2B copywriters suffer the same fate, here’s my advice on how to speed up, and get your copy flying out the door.

Get ready to write

First of all, if you’re facing an impending deadline, DON’T melt into a puddle of self-pity. Groaning and facepalming may seem cathartic, but it won’t change the fact that time waits for no one. Take a second to take stock of the resources, time and knowledge you do have – and prepare to write.

What to do if you’ve received a super vague brief

You may think ‘OK, I just about understand this one-sentence scribble’, but why take the risk? You’ll only end up spending ages formulating a narrative that should’ve been there to begin with or, worse, getting back hefty amends.

Don’t wing copy when you can just pick up the phone and clarify the brief with the client. Chances are they’ll be more than happy to offer guidance and hear out any concerns you have – and if you’re lucky, you may even get a more conducive deadline. It’s a win-win.

Don’t skip the outline

Outlines are great – they keep you and the client on the same page while guiding you through the agreed content. But as we’ve established, time is a cruel mistress who doesn’t care much for your mortal concerns.

The solution? Ignore her – you always need a structure to follow – so write one.

It doesn’t have to be a fully-fledged outline, but it should give you a sense of the narrative you want to tell. Whether you use bullets or a few quick-fire sentences, it’s always better than unleashing a stream of consciousness which’ll only cost you time in the long run (especially when it comes back covered in red pen – with even less time to action the amends).

How to deal with writing distractions

Colleagues have Friday fever? It’s a cruel fate, but somebody must keep the client happy, and that person is you. The content is ready to spill through your fingertips, but how can you possibly concentrate when the office is busy refining their Bee Movie puns?

You have two options…

Option one: leave the room – get out, get out, get out. Whether you find solace in the meeting room, the kitchen or a dank corner under the stairs – you’re bound to get more done. Bee Movie bee gone.

Option two: headphones. Yes, music can be distracting, but that’s why it’s important you play something that drives productivity without dominating your attention. An allegretto tempo that’s easy on the lyricism should work.

If that fails – try some thrash metal… trust me, it works.

Divide the workload (but do it carefully)

In a previous blog post, I explained how maintaining consistent quality across multiple writers is achievable. Two writers are faster than one, and so on – a reality which lends itself well to getting more done in a limited timeframe.

Do you have an equally talented writer for a colleague? Can the copy be divided without damaging the consistency of its content? Is said writer free to help? If the answer to these three questions is ‘yes’, then you know what to do.

And with all that time you save sharing the copy, you can now really invest in the planning and structure. Boom.

Understanding makes all the difference

Writing fast to meet a restrictive deadline is never pleasant, but in almost every case, understanding your audience, what you want to tell them, and how you’re going to tell it, will pull you through. This is what matters most, regardless of deadlines and distractions.

If you know exactly what you want to say, and to whom, the writing will come naturally – and, believe it or not, faster.

Got any more speed-writing tips to share? You’ll find a comments box at the foot of the page…


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