Melanie's Musings
March 29, 2012

Five Tips to Write Book Reviews Faster

The crux of any book blog, book reviews are a chance to get in depth and spark discussions.

But sometimes they take a long time.

As in, you’re sitting at your computer with a draft open and ten minutes later, you’ve got nothing but a blank page.

Here are five tips to help you write book reviews faster:

1.  Write While You Read– While you are reading, take a note card and fill it up with things that stick out to you, thus saving time later on.

2.  Have A Format– Whether it’s summary/review/rating, simply summary/review, or some other mix, having a fixed format will save time.

3.  Cut Away Distractions– Close all your browser windows, save the one you’re writing in. No twitter. No facebook. Just you, the book, and your impending review.

4.  Freewrite– Try not to overthink things and just take a few minutes to write without regard to punctuation, style, or word choice. That’s what editing is for. You might be surprised what will come out if you spend a minute or two just letting things flow.

5.  Put it Away– If you’ve hit a brick wall and can’t seem to bust through, don’t be afraid to put the review away and work on another where you can be more productive.

Your task:

Close all browser windows except the one you’re writing in, pick a book out of your To Be Reviewed pile, and spend just three minutes freewriting- write down whatever comes to mind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’d love to hear how it went! How much did you come up with- a sentence or a paragraph?

If you have any questions, feel free to ask, and I’ll be sure to answer.

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Posted by Melanie at 3:05 am - Comments (49)
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Comments

  • March 29th 2012

    Awesome advice. I do all of these actually. Well except 3. I need to work on that.

    [Reply]

  • March 29th 2012

    Great tips!!

    [Reply]

  • March 29th 2012
    Penelope said:

    Great tips! I need to get rid of my distractions when I type up my reviews. It is 95% of the reason they take me so long!

    [Reply]

  • March 29th 2012

    Great tips. I always take notes as I write or highlight items in my kindle app, it’s SO helpful to go back over later.

    [Reply]

  • March 29th 2012

    Great advice! Especially about closing all browser windows (including Twitter). I get so easily distracted. I also like the freewrite. I’m going to give that a try.

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  • March 29th 2012

    Distractions are my biggest problem, especially Twitter! I am giving your advice a go…thanks!

    [Reply]

  • March 29th 2012

    I’ve been trying to do this recently! Thanks for the tips!

    [Reply]

  • March 30th 2012
    Amanda said:

    #3 is my downfall…I usually manage to close everything, but then Twitter starts calling my name…

    [Reply]

  • March 30th 2012
    Judith said:

    Thanks for the mini-challenge. I did some free writing on a book that I read a while ago and I had forgotten a lot about (I thought). During the writing lots of things came back to me. So, great advice. Thanks.

    [Reply]

  • March 30th 2012

    […] at least 5 mini-challenges / old mini-challenges (LW, BB) DONE one: How to write reviews faster and I wrote a review in the […]

  • March 30th 2012

    I write my reviews like that all the time. English is not my native language (that’s Dutch), so I don’t try to work to hard on my lines. I just type down what I want to say and then I’m going to take all the mistakes away. Otherwise, I would be focusing on grammars and not on what I want to tell the reader. That would take away my pleasure of writing a review :)

    And I love to make notes while I’m reading. I always place a lot of bookmarks on my e-reader and I take notes of everything special I want to say.

    The only thing I never thought about is having a format. I’m going to try that :)

    [Reply]

  • March 30th 2012

    Great tips! I tend to write a review/ discussion in Goodreads as soon as I’m finished with a book. But it might take a few days for me to get to the blog and make it more complete. So that’s what I did as a challenge. I wrote & scheduled upcoming reviews for books on my blog.

    [Reply]

  • March 30th 2012

    Completely agree with you on the note-taking. I have a reviewing notebook and I just jot down random thoughts while I’m reading — questions, rants, impressions. Those notes are very helpful when it comes time to write up the review.

    [Reply]

  • March 30th 2012

    […] Are you spending too much time on reviews? In this challenge, Melanie from Melanie’s Musings (@MelanieFoust) gives you Five Tips to Write Reviews Faster […]

  • March 30th 2012
    Uniflame said:

    Oh I could never close all my browser windows while writing. I always have goodreads at hand to look up information on the book that I want in my post.So that point would be very unpractical for me. Otherwise these tips are great. I need to write more while I read. I am going to keep that one in mind for sure :)

    [Reply]

    Melanie Reply:

    I use goodreads a lot to look up information for books too, especially when I’m having trouble with the summary. Sounds like you’ve got a good system going that works for you.

    Glad to help!

    [Reply]

  • March 30th 2012

    Thanks for this – just what I needed! I got a whole review done, in much less time than normal :)

    [Reply]

  • March 30th 2012
    Roberta said:

    I just tried your challenge of freewriting with no distractions. I was actually doing pretty well until another person needed my attention. Alas, they do not close like a browser window :-)

    As far as using a format, I found that really helps. I even have a post duplication plugin that copies the format/contents of blog posts that I use for certain memes. It saves having to enter the same tags and images over and over.

    Thanks for the tips.

    [Reply]

  • March 30th 2012

    This is actually very much how I write all my reviews!:) The only one I need to get better at is to close all other tabs I have open, because I get very easily distracted:P

    [Reply]

  • March 31st 2012
    Lisa said:

    Love #4! Just did this in a draft and managed to bust out three paragraphs and then couldn’t stop at the three minute mark. Not sure it will all survive the final draft but it’s a great start and something I think I’ll use a lot. I take a lot of notes as I read but I’ve got to admit that sometimes it’s my notes that get me bogged down trying to work all of those very important things into my reviews!

    [Reply]

  • March 31st 2012
    Jen said:

    Thanks for this. I am always breaking Rule #3, like right now. Closing Twitter and FB right now!

    [Reply]

  • March 31st 2012
    alone said:

    rule 3 rocks…….. works for anything and everything you have to do in your browser with an internet. i wast so much time after i decide to do a thing i had to do online, that finally i started using IE for work purposes….. and chrome for others. saves me lot of time

    [Reply]

  • March 31st 2012

    You have just given me a fabulous idea for a way to format my reviews! Thank you so much!

    Buona fortuna!

    I’ll be Bloggiesta-ing all weekend! I love to have old and new friends stop by and say hello.

    [Reply]

  • March 31st 2012

    This is a great one! But my reading comes at such random times, sometimes it’s hard for me to write notes while reading. Plus, it distracts me. I usually sit down as soon as I’m finished and jot down character names, setting, anything important, as well as my initial impressions. That way, even if it takes a while for me to get to reviewing it, I already have some of the work done!

    The closing Twitter part is the part I have trouble with. :)

    [Reply]

  • March 31st 2012

    Fantastic tips! I always find it easier to write reviews when I take notes while I read, but sometimes I get tired of doing that. When I have trouble thinking of what to say in my review, I often work on the review over a couple of days. It lets me think about the book and my opinion in a more relaxing manner instead of trying to force all the ideas out of my head at one time.

    [Reply]

  • April 1st 2012

    This is great advice! I actually don’t usually have problems writing reviews. I write them shortly after I finish a book so my thoughts are still fresh and I don’t get distracted by other books. I prefer not having a giant pile of books that need to be reviewed :]

    [Reply]

  • April 1st 2012
    Dee said:

    I do find it much easier to write reviews now that I have a few basic things planned! I also happened to read John Updike’s rules of reviews – and they are fantastic!
    One rule is to always include a paragraph from the book itself, so that the reader can judge for themselves if the book is to their taste. I just this week started including that :)
    I got a mini-review done! its scheduled for next week :)

    [Reply]

  • April 1st 2012
    Gaby said:

    Thanks for the tips! I managed to write a hole paragraph, and then I just continued until I finished the review. It makes a difference when you’re just writing…I wrote about things I didn’t thought I was going to write on that review. It seems more honest or personal.

    [Reply]

  • April 1st 2012

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  • April 1st 2012
    Erika said:

    This is great advice, Melanie. I tried your challenge a couple times, but every time I did I got on a roll and lost track of time. So I have no idea how much I wrote in 3 minutes. But I did manage to write my thoughts out on 3 books so far!

    [Reply]

  • April 1st 2012

    Thanks for the tips. I use #3 all the time while at work, but never thought of using it for the blog. I just tried and it worked great! Like another commenter above, English is not my mother tongue and sometimes it takes a lot to find the exact word I want to use. This time I put a placeholder in those cases, and went back to the dictionary after finishing. It did save quite some time! If you’d like to see the result, the review I wrote is this one:
    http://parolediscribacchina.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/book-rome-burning/

    [Reply]

  • April 1st 2012

    I write while I read and read while undistracted. Plus my reviews are very formatted in an unusual way, which I think people tend to like – it’s odd but it is the only way my mind seems to process things. I always am amazed by the people who just write freely and make it sound great.

    Sounds like we already have a lot in common in terms of writing our reviews/thoughts. Great post!

    [Reply]

  • April 1st 2012

    You have some amazing tips! Thank you so much!! I already write as I read but I really needed to work on the freewriting part. That is the one tip that really helped the most! I went beyond the 3 minute mark to 5 minutes and pretty much wrote an entire review (even though I am sure the fact I loved the book also helped lol). Again thank you so much for this challenge – you really pushed me in a better direction.

    Here is my Mini Challenge Post: http://www.patriciasparticularity.com/2012/04/bloggiesta-mini-challenge-4.html

    [Reply]

  • April 1st 2012

    […] at least 5 mini-challenges / old mini-challenges (LW, BB) How to write reviews faster and I wrote a review in the process; Sidebar help, deleted some buttons and I put all my […]

  • April 1st 2012

    I totally agree in regards to format. I have a review format and have spent most of Bloggiesta figuring out how to create a template in WordPress! Finally got it! Thanks for hosting!

    [Reply]

  • April 1st 2012

    […] Five Tips To Writing Fast Reviews, gave me tips on how to be more proactive in my writing and cut out the distractions.  This is something I need to continue to work on.  […]

  • April 1st 2012
    Diana said:

    Awesome and concise post! One of my “to do’s” now is definitely to create a template for writing reviews. And writing reviews lickety-split is my goal. Thank you! And i love your blog style!

    [Reply]

  • April 1st 2012

    Great post! Lately, I’ve been making sure that I always have a notepad and pen available when I’m reading … it makes it so much easier to write reviews! I just wrote one today and it flew by since I had about 3 pages of notes to pick and choose from.

    I also like the idea of shutting off everything else … I can usually work with music in the background, but Twitter is such a distraction! As is the television.

    Another thing I can add to your list is to write reviews within the week (or sooner!) that you read the book … if you’re NOT a note-taker, it’s just easier this way. But people should definitely take notes … it makes my head hurt a little less. :)

    [Reply]

  • April 2nd 2012

    […] Five tips to write reviews faster ? […]

  • April 2nd 2012
    Young1 said:

    I now have my little notebook to hand with a lovely pen ready to write my notes whilst reading!

    [Reply]

  • April 2nd 2012

    Ya… nice!!

    I do a lot of what you said, but this weekend, I made a skeletal framework so I’ll remember everything I want to write about without spending the time re-creating my great ideas!! Lol. Thanks!!!

    [Reply]

  • April 3rd 2012

    […] and How Can It Help You? Get Noticed by Search Engines Five Ways to Spiff Up Your Book Reviews Five Tips to Write Book Reviews Faster  Posted by owltellyouaboutit at 7:00 […]

  • April 8th 2012

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing! :-)

    [Reply]

  • June 19th 2012

    Thanks for the sharing your tips.
    I’m fond of reading books, and I’m just starting to post reviews on http://www.reviewsgoodbad.com, to further enhance my writing skills, before I create my own blog.
    Your tips are easy to follow, simply written yet with a great impact to me.

    [Reply]

  • June 21st 2012

    Wonderful advice! Thanks so much :-) I definitely need to close windows when I’m writing reviews… I did the free-writing challenge, and it turns out I think I need to re-read the book because I’m getting it confused with another I read recently. Oops…

    [Reply]

  • September 27th 2012

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  • September 28th 2012

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  • February 7th 2015
    Fatima said:

    Thank you so much for the great tips! The freewriting helped me so much! I used to spend an hour trying to write a review and I’d just be stuck with three to five sentences. I just did the freewriting exercise you gave and I wrote a whole paragraph! (127 words)

    [Reply]

  • March 24th 2015

    […] Five Tips to Write Reviews Faster […]