Trying to get more writing done, but you just can’t seem to accomplish your writing goals? Here are a few writing productivity tips to help you put more words to paper.
1. Create a schedule you can stick to
Some ‘experts’ say writing every day is essential for purposes of productivity and goal achievement, but this isn’t necessarily true. Some people can, and need to, write every day in order to maintain a steady flow of work. Some people cannot, and don’t need to, and that’s okay. Create a writing schedule that works for you: daily, Monday through Friday, weekends only – whatever you can manage. Stay consistent.
2. Choose a specific goal for each writing session
By the time you sit down to write, you should already have in mind your end goal for that particular writing session. Your goal could be to write 1,000 words, or it could be to finish a chapter, or it could be to turn in an assignment or submit an article for review. As long as it is specific, and it is a goal you can reasonably accomplish in one sitting, it should do wonders for your productivity.
3. Pick a location that will motivate you, and won’t distract you
Write wherever you will be comfortable and where you will be able to remain focused. Some people write in coffee shops because the atmosphere is optimal for them in terms of writing, but some people can’t because it’s too loud or too hard on their wallets. Pick a place you can proclaim your ‘writing space’ and get to work.
4. Work on a few different ongoing projects simultaneously
Multi tasking is a ‘nope’ on the productivity scale, but to keep yourself motivated and to keep from getting bored, each writing session should focus on a different project. This might mean alternating between a few different projects each time you sit down at your computer. For example, you might dedicate Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to writing blog posts, and Tuesdays and Thursdays to pitching and writing articles.
Jumping straight into a writing project without giving yourself time to plan may seem like it will move things along faster, but it may instead end up distracting and delaying you. Take a few minutes before you start writing to outline subheadings, main points or which topics you want to research before you actually start writing. In the long run, this will actually make the process go a lot faster.
6. Take breaks on the hour, every hour
You are never too busy to take a short break. Your brain needs time to catch up and process things it wasn’t able to process while you were deep into your latest writing session. Taking a short break, such as five minutes to grab some water and/or a snack and take a few deep breaths, will give your brain a chance to breathe and prepare for whatever task will be coming next.
7. Snack on carbs
Our brains run on sugar, and writing even for short periods of time depletes the amount of sugar in our blood just as studying for a test does. Wherever you’re writing, have a few healthy snacks with you, such as pretzels, celery with peanut butter or dried fruit. Sugar keeps you focused and keeps your energy up, which will keep you writing even late into the afternoon.
8. Research first, write second
If you can avoid looking things up as you are writing, each writing session will end up being much more productive. Stopping in the middle of a paragraph to look something up interrupts your flow. Similarly, if you need to fact check something, wait until you are done writing first.
9. Edit later, not now
Are you guilty of constant self editing? Does every red squiggly line give you anxiety? Learn to save the editing for last. Stopping after every paragraph to correct or rewrite what you have just written will only slow you down and make the process take twice as long. Get everything out on paper first, then spend as long as you need, probably at a later date or time, editing.
10. Know what you are going to write about before you sit down to write
Or at least have a general idea of where in general your ideas are going to congregate. The extra time it might take to decide and plan out what you are going to write about can feel overwhelming if you have to do that, plus write and edit, all in the same sitting. Have a plan so you can get to outlining as soon as you sit down.
11. Don’t force it
Good writing rarely happens when we feel our feet dragging with every single word. Sometimes we are just having an off day, and no matter how hard we try, we cannot get done what we need to get done. In some cases, you have to push through and write as best you can even when you don’t want to. But if you can walk away and let your brain sort itself out, let it.
12. If something isn’t clicking, try writing something else
Writer’s block is a myth. Just because you are struggling to write one thing in particular right at this moment does not mean you are incapable of writing anything else besides that one thing. Switch topics. Work on a different project. You will most likely find you are not blocked at all; you just need to put your creative energy into something other than what you planned on for right now.
13. Celebrate even your small accomplishments
You wrote 100 words without checking Facebook. You finally finished the same writing project you have been working on for two weeks. You gathered up the courage to submit your essay to a magazine. It doesn’t matter what it is – celebrate! The more you praise yourself for working hard and making progress, the more confidence you will have to continue writing.
Apply these steps to your writing routine for more fulfilling and productive writing.