Raise your hand if you’ve ever made plans to get a mountain of writing done, but end up barely getting more than a few words down.
If you’re sitting without your hand raised, you’re a goddamn liar.
Writers write, it’s true, but more often than not we end up struggling to do even that. We hesitate, procrastinate, and just struggle to find the time to do anything in general. If only we had an extra hour in our day. An extra day in our week, would be even better.
Unfortunately, we only have the standard 24 that everyone else has (I know, it sucks).
So how do we deal with our limited time and our seemingly unlimited amount of work that never gets done?
We find ways to be more productive, of course.
It’s easier said than done, and even I haven’t fully mastered the art, but I’ve found a few things that help me get done what I’ve set out to do.
Here are my top 10 tips to increase my productivity when writing!
Set A Schedule:
This might be very tough at first if you’ve never worked by a schedule, but I believe it’s worth the effort. Take the time you have in the day and plan out exactly what you’re going to do and when. Set aside a time dedicated to getting some writing done. Show up and actually do it.
You’d be surprised how much you get done just by having a schedule. You’d also be surprised just how much space opens up in your day to write even more.
This is a neat little trick I’ve found really helps when you’re about to sit down and start a writing session. Whenever I finish up my current session, I try not to finish the last sentence/chapter I’m busy with. That way, I have to finish it when I start my next session.
I’ve found that starting is the toughest part when it comes to writing. Just getting started is half the battle. Having the sentence you’re about to write already started helps you get into the swing of things much faster.
Having clearly defined, reachable goals is one of the biggest motivators. Start with small goals that are easy to finish in shorter periods of time (write 500 words today), and have bigger ones that are harder and take longer to finish (finish the book by July).
Make sure you have a set time in which to finish these goals (i.e. a deadline) and make sure it’s clearly defined (finish the chapter v.s. write more). Having vague goals without deadlines often leave you not accomplishing anything.
Writing is a lonely profession. Often you’ll work on a project for ages without input or help from anyone else. Only you can create the story. Only you can write the words exactly the way you want them to be. Only you can finish the project.
All of this is true, but it doesn’t mean you can’t involve someone in some way.
Pick a trusted friend or loved one and tell them you’re writing something. Tell them you’re working on it and keep them updated on your progress. This helps because then you’ll have someone else keeping you accountable. You’ll have someone other than yourself telling you to get something done today.
Take Your Writing Seriously:
I’ve already written about this idea at length, but I’ll mention it again here. Taking yourself and your writing seriously is a crucial step in your journey to becoming a full-time writer. You need to give it the respect it deserves in order to grow as an artist (and in order to get something done).
If you treat it like a hobby, it will always be a hobby. You’ll always struggle to find time and struggle to finish anything because “it’s just a hobby, so it’s not that important”. If you treat it like a job, it will eventually become a job. Put in the hours and get the work done; you might be surprised by how much you can get done when making this simple shift in the way you think about what you do.
As I said, you only have the standard 24 hours in a day and despite how hard you try, you can’t change that. You have work, sleep, socialising, and a whole bucketload of other things eating away at that time. How do you get more time to write?
It sucks and will probably be the toughest thing you could do, but you’re going to have to cut a few things from your schedule. Watch less videos online, play less games, spend less time socialising. Cut whatever can be cut from your schedule and fill that time with writing. This is part of taking it seriously and it doesn’t get easier the more you put off doing it. Just rip off the band-aid.
Unplug And Disconnect:
This might be either very easy or very difficult for you to do (depending on your priorities). I’m sure you’ve written something, paused to fact-check that thing you just mentioned, and ended up three hours later looking up how to build bombs from bananas and tube-socks. It’s happened to all of us and will probably happen again.
The best way to combat this is to unplug your internet connection. Turn it off and disconnect. Completely cut yourself off from the online world and keep it like that until you’ve gotten your writing done. Cutting down on potential distractions will add a definite boost to your writing-productivity.
I recently wrote a post about how I outline my novels. In it, I explained how I write about the chapter I’m about to write before actually starting. It helps me know what needs to happen and where I’m headed. It also helps to prevent the situation where I have no idea what happens next.
Plan your chapter in advance. Write out what’s going to happen in that scene you’re about to start. Have a game-plan going in before you end up stuck and frustrated. It’s also much easier to get started when you know what has to happen next.
You’ve done everything I’ve said so far. You’ve unplugged, you’ve planned ahead, you’ve made sacrifices and have had someone hold you accountable. You’ve just had one of the most productive writing days in years and you feel pretty good on yourself. So you decide to go on Twitter to relax and find a tweet by your favourite author.
They wrote three times as much as you and called it a slow day.
Why even bother trying? You’ll never be on their level. You’ll never get anywhere if you can’t crank out 5k words a day like they can. It’s pointless…
Stop right now.
Comparing yourself to others is the worst thing you could do. You’re not them, and they’re not you. You’re your own person with your own circumstances and your own experiences. If a thousand words is an achievement for you, then celebrate that! Don’t beat yourself up just because someone else did more. The only writer you should ever compare yourself to is the one you were yesterday.
Just Get Started:
You could read all the guides on the internet and study the tips in this article until you live and breathe the advice I’ve given. You could make all the sacrifices, unplug all your devices, take yourself seriously and still not get anywhere.
The toughest part is getting started.
No advice will be of any benefit to you if you don’t start. Stop reading posts like this online. Stop procrastinating. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Just get started and get writing done. There’s no other way and there’s no secret cheat. You have to start and keep going.
So what are you waiting for? Go write!
Remember that productivity is all dependant on the effort that you put in. Put in enough effort and you might just be surprised at how much more you can get done.
How do you improve your productivity?
Let me know in the comments below!
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