Looking for ways to increase productivity when you spend time at the keyboard? These seven writing tips can help you get better focused, more productive, and even improve your writing.
Whether taking the NaNoWriMo challenge or not, we can all use pointers and reminders when it comes to increasing productivity at the keyboard. These seven writing tips can set on your way to make a plan, and stick to it!
Writing Tip #1: Schedule your time
One sure-fire way to increase productivity is to schedule a specific time to write every day. Give your writing time priority and schedule a block of time, just as you would schedule a doctor’s appointment, a conference call, or a meeting with a friend for coffee. You also want to have it on your calendar for a set duration of time. It could be 15 minutes, one hour, two hours, an afternoon, or an entire weekend. Choose whatever works best for you and schedule it. You’ve got to fight for your right to write!
Writing Tip #2: Set goals
Once you have your time booked, set a writing goal. It doesn’t have to be a big one. Sometimes you simply want to write a blog post, or you need to write an email in your auto responder series. You don’t need to be working on a book every minute that you set aside, just make sure your writing goal is realistic for you and the time you’ve allotted.
If this is your first time setting a goal for a writing session, set what you think makes sense and then reevaluate the goal after your session is over so you can set more realistic goals in the future.
You can make it very specific, or you can make it project-oriented, but give yourself a target to work towards as you write. You might say:
- “I’ll write one chapter in my book,”
- “I’ll write one section in one chapter,”
- “I’ll write the introduction to my book,”
- “I’ll write one 500 word blog post.”
- “I’ll write 1,000 words on __________________.”
- “I’ll write …”
Writing Tip #3: Have everything ready
You know what often happens? You’ll sit down to write and then you think, “I’m thirsty, I need to go get my water.” Or, “I’m feeling kind of hungry, I’m going to go get a snack.” Or, “I don’t have my notebook, or my pen, or those research notes I need,” and then you go searching for those items and the time you set aside for writing gets whittled away.
This writing time deserves to be uninterrupted. Don’t edit. Don’t research. Just write and finish your task.
It might help to make a check list of the things you want to have ready before you write, including:
- Notes or research you’ve done
- A pen and paper
- Have a few snacks ready
- Earphones, if you want music or background noise
Finally, dress in comfortable clothes. If you’re fidgeting and you’re uncomfortable, that can distract you from your writing as well.
Writing Tip #4: Create an outline
I know some of you resist outlines. Even for those of you who aren’t super organized and normally aren’t prone to using lists, I still recommend you use an outline. When you start with an outline, you’re not going to have writer’s block as often because you know what you’re going to write about in that session. It makes it so much easier. You have a plan. You can even add that to you list of project goals: “Today I’ll write an outline for the first three chapters of my book.”
You can get as detailed as you want, but even with a basic outline, when you sit down to write, you’re not looking at a blank screen. You have bullet points and a plan for your writing session.
Writing Tip #5: Be accountable
Accountability can happen in many ways. For my Author Audience Academy members, we meet monthly for a group writing accountability session called the “Writers’ Block Party.” We share our goals and what we’re planning to get done. I also have a writing accountability forum, where people can post their writing goals for the other forum members to see.
But why not public accountability on social media? Post something like, “Hey, I’m logging off Facebook for three hours to write. I’ll check back when I’m done.” Or find an accountability partner. It doesn’t have to be an author, maybe a friend who is committed to exercising regularly. You can keep each other accountable for your personal goals.
Writing Tip 6: Use the Pomodoro Technique
Have you heard of this? Basically, what you do is you set a goal, and then focus on it for 25 minutes. Set a timer for 25 minutes and really focus on the task you’ve set. When that 25 minutes is up, no matter where you’re at in the process, stop for a five-minute break. Get up, stretch, get the blood flowing, get a snack. Do something other than writing.
That’s the gist of the Pomodoro Technique. It’s powerful when you tell your brain, “I’m giving you one assignment for the next 25 minutes: to write.” These focused periods of time help you get more accomplished with writing and all other sorts of activities.
Writing Tip #7: Celebrate your progress
Actually, the first part of this step is to track your progress. That way, you know how many words that you wrote that day. Then, celebrate your progress.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t meet the specifics of every goal, celebrate the progress you’ve made, whether it’s two paragraphs or 2,000 words. The more you get in the habit of writing, the more you get to reward yourself. That will result in more positive feelings associated with your writing time, and more motivation to keep at it.
Take the Next Step
Apply these seven writing tips, encourage others around you, and let me know how it goes. Tweet me @shelleyhitz. I’d love to hear from you. And if you want some extra help, join my FREE 7-day nonfiction writing challenge at WritingWeek.com. In fact, with the 7-day writing challenge, you can download 72 writing affirmations to help you celebrate your successes. Good luck!
Image via ShutterStock.com.
The First Word
Simple Instagram Tips For Authors
5 Time Management Tips For Writers Who Work Form Home
Speed Up! How To Make Better use Of Your Time At Your Keyboard
10 Tips To Help Writers Stay Focused