When you’re a writer, your number one enemy isn’t lack of inspiration, it’s lack of time. You probably have enough ideas to fill an entire library full of books, but how can you be a more productive writer?
If you ever hope to be a prolific writer, you’ll need to find time in your day when there is no time. In this post, we’ll go over essential productivity tips that will help you make the most of your 24 hours each day.
Force Yourself to Write More
Writing should be part of your daily routine, not something that you reserve for the weekends or whenever the mood hits. What if the mood never hits? You can’t write a book, or much of anything, that way.
Instead, you must make writing into a habit. It should be as routine as taking a shower or drinking your cup of coffee. The only way to be more productive as a writer is to force yourself to produce more.
Now is the time to have a pep talk with yourself. Order yourself to write every single day whether you feel like it or not. And trust me, you won’t always feel like it. However, if you do it every day, you’ll improve as a writer. It won’t take long before you’re surrounded by ideas that you can’t wait to cultivate.
To make writing part of your daily routine, pen it into your schedule right along with your other must-do chores. As mentioned before, you can’t wait for inspiration to hit before you set pen to paper. Besides, if you’re anything like me, inspiration often hits when you’re away from your desk and in the middle of some other activity like driving or waiting in line at a fast food restaurant.
Use a Time Management Tool
You need a time management tool, but that doesn’t mean that you should go out and purchase a fancy app that you’re never going to use— Or am I the only app hoarder around these parts?
Instead of hunting down the perfect time management tool, use the original one: Your alarm clock. I find that the best way to manage your writing time is to put it on your schedule and then set an alarm to write.
For example, if you can only afford to spend one hour each day on writing, then once it’s time to write, set your alarm for 60 minutes and write. It doesn’t need to be any more sophisticated than that. The simplest tools often work the best, especially when you don’t need to remember login details in order to access them.
Block Out Your Time
Not all of your writing time is actually writing. Your writing time will also consist of researching and outlining (or thinking about what you’ll write next).
Writing, researching, and outlining (for those plotters out there) are all essential components to storytelling. However, it’s easy to feel discouraged if you’re judging your productivity on word count but you’ve spent your entire writing session in research mode. You may not have actually written a lot, but you’ve accomplished a great deal.
One way to boost your productivity is to set different goals for the different tasks that you’ll perform. Instead of gauging your productivity solely on word count, think of what you want to accomplish with each task.
- For research, you may devote an entire writing session to investigating a time period or location.
- For outlining, you may set a goal for outlining an entire scene or chapter from your book.
- For writing, you may focus on meeting a certain word count or completing a specific scene.
Understand Your Best Time to Write
When is your best time to write? In other words, when are you most productive naturally? For me, it’s between the hours of 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Every writer has a special time during the day when the words flow like fresh ink. When you can write without hesitation, it’s your best time to write.
This is also the time when you should schedule your writing time. If you work best at 2 p.m., it’s not a good idea to try to write at 5 a.m. Sure, you can do it, but it’ll be a lot harder on you and you won’t be as productive as you would if you scheduled your writing session for the late afternoon instead.
Speak, Don’t Write
One of my absolute favorite productivity tips is to dictate your words instead of writing them. Most of us speak faster than we write. The average person speaks between 110 and 150 words per minute.
How fast do you type?
The average writing speed is about 40 words per minute. Of course, the more you write, the faster you’ll be.
I’m not ashamed to report that I type 90 words per minute, but even at that rate, I still lag behind. At that rate, you could knock out 1,000 words in less than 10 minutes– and that’s at the slow end. Now that’s productivity.
Another reason to try dictation is that you can multitask. You can dictate your story while performing a monotonous activity such as driving or doing dishes. While dictation may not produce your very best work, it can serve as a rough draft that gets your ideas onto digital paper.
If you don’t read, you shouldn’t write. It may seem like a weird tip to include in a post about writing productivity, however, reading actually helps you become a better writer in the following ways:
- It improves your vocabulary
- It exposes you to other creative content
- It inspires new ideas
- It encourages you to be a better writer
When you read, allow the entire experience to wash over you. Notice how the writer sets up the story. Pay close attention to their word choice. Observe how the overall tone of the story makes you feel.
Make time to read each day, even if it’s only 15 minutes.
You can’t help but become a more productive writer when you increase your exposure to other writing, preferably the great kind. Other’s excellence will inspire your own.
Have an Accountability Partner
Some of us work best when we share writing goals with others. Ask a friend or fellow writer to serve as your accountability partner and assign them the task of checking up on you periodically. Knowing that someone else is invested in your writing process will make you more serious about producing content on a regular basis.
In addition to challenging you to be your best, this person can also provide honest feedback on your content. For these reasons, you should choose someone you trust to take this supportive role.
Incentivize Your Writing
Even though writing should be wedged in between your daily chores, don’t turn writing into an unpleasant task that you loathe. Instead, turn your daily writing into a game and compete against yourself to win.
Here are a few ideas to gamify writing:
- Set a daily word count goal – This goal may be as modest as 1,000 words or as ambitious as 10,000 words. Do whatever is realistic for you, but it should present some sort of difficulty. Otherwise, you won’t stay motivated to continue.
- Set the rewards – What do you receive if you meet your daily word count goal? For me, my goal is to eat a donut stick at the end of composing this article. Food may not motivate you like it does me, so use something that satisfies you. For a fun twist, assign special rewards for accomplishing specific activities, such as: Write the first draft of chapter one → Have an evening out with friends.
- Push yourself to see how fast you can type – Push yourself to type as fast as possible for the span of 5 minutes each. You’ll be astounded by how much content you can write in a short amount of time. You’ll also increase your typing speed.
Looking for even more ways to improve your writing productivity? Check out these related posts: