As a freelancer, one of the questions I am asked constantly is this: “How do you write so much?” Often, I start the answer by pointing out that it’s my “job.” After all, this is what I do for a living. However, if you want to start a freelance writing business, “it’s my job” isn’t very helpful.

If you want to make a living as a freelance writer, one of the essentials is picking up the pace with your writing. Additionally, a little more writing efficiency can help even if you aren’t planning to make your living as a writer. If you are writing a business blog to drive traffic, or if you do some other writing as an outgrowth of your home business or job, boosting your writing efficiency can also help you boost your productivity.

While not every tip will work for everyone, I do know what works for me. So, consider the following, and see if any of these tips can help you become a more efficient writer:

Think Before You Write

Before I sit down and write something, it helps me to stop and think a little bit about what I plan to write. I don’t usually create a formal outline for a blog post, but I do think about what I want the introduction to look like, and what points I want to make throughout the post. For something longer, I might quickly jot down the essential points. When I ghostwrite something huge, like a book, I often do create a true outline, just to keep my thoughts organized and on track.

No matter how you do it, take at least two or three minutes to compose your thoughts, and figure out how you want to proceed. This will help you keep up the flow as you move through the post, so you aren’t grappling with what to write next.

Set Aside Dedicated Time to Write

When I know that I will have something to do later, I set aside dedicated time to write — and limit distractions. I close the email. I prioritize the writing that needs to be done. Then I go for it. Whether I’ve set aside half an hour, or three hours, I work at a dedicated pace for that time period. Sometimes, I target a number of posts that need to be done before I can check my email, or take a lunch break.

Before I begin my dedicated writing time, I take care of physical needs, and have a small snack. I fill my water bottle and place it on my desk, so that I don’t have to go get a drink. With everything ready, it is possible to move through my list fairly quickly.

Have Your Tools Nearby

I keep an tools I need nearby. There is a bookshelf next to my desk containing books I am slated to review, my journalism textbook and other references. My word processor, of course, has spell check and a thesaurus built in. If I know that I will be referencing different web sites, or using online research, I open what I need in tabs, so that it is ready. Keeping everything nearby can ensure that what you need is easy and fast to get at.

Practice, Practice, Practice

This goes with dedicated writing time. However, I think it warrants another look. If you practice writing, you will improve. Just as you would improve at anything else you practice. I’ve been writing for between five and eight hours a day, five days a week, for the past seven or eight years. At some point, all the practice has to pay off.

What are your tips for writing more efficiently?