These two letters can speed up your writing

It's pretty well established that I'm an editing nerd. This extends well beyond just playing with other people's writing. I nerd out over typography (ONE DAY I SHALL HAVE MY OWN FONT), obscure punctuation, and those little handwritten marks that editors don't use anymore because Track Changes has no sense of history.

But you're in luck! I'm here to resurrect one of those nerdy editing tricks. And you don't even have to learn what STET means—uh, unless you want to?

Over the last few weeks we've explored how to write more efficiently: making a road map, taking a dump, and doing some of your deep thinking away from the screen.

All of these tips have been in service of creating momentum in your writing. Why do you need momentum? To get that first draft out of you and onto the page. To avoid the deep, unsettling feeling that comes from the incessant Start. Stop. Start. Stop. It kills your confidence.

This tip is one of the best ways I know to maintain writing momentum: if you stall on something or you feel compelled to go and do more research instead of moving forward, do this instead:

Write TK, and move on.

In the editing world the abbreviation TK means To Come (i.e., has not yet been written).  It's used as a placeholder so that you can make note of a missing piece and carry on writing.

Sidebar: Why not TC? There are competing explanations for this but it's mostly to avoid confusion with any text that is meant to be printed.

This is such an effective system that the blogging site Medium has actually built this in to their platform. If you're writing and you include TK as a placeholder, it will warn you before you publish. Be still my nerdy heart!

If you're nervous you'll forget to address the TK, you can use the highlight feature in your word processor.

So how do you use it? Here are a few examples:

  • Grant Proposal Snazzy Inspirational Title TK
  • A study by Thompson and Patel found that 43% of users TK VERIFY
  • TK summary final sentence

Do you use placeholders to maintain momentum while you're writing? Do you think it could help? Let me know in the comments!

And if you know of anyone who could use some help getting unstuck, please share.