It’s not easy to find time to write.
Even professional writers get caught up in paperwork and marketing and have to scramble to get the actual work of writing done.
But with careful planning and better time management, we can all learn how to produce more writing.
Here are seven writing productivity tips that will help you write more, even if you have a packed schedule.
Writing Tips for Better Productivity
Try a few of these writing productivity techniques and see which ones work for you:
- Write first thing every morning. Most people feel refreshed after a good night’s rest (and a hot cup of coffee!), so there’s no better time to get creative than in the a.m. If you can get some writing done before you hop in the shower, your day will be off to a great start!
- Schedule writing sessions. If you have an over-packed schedule and your life is dictated by the notes on your calendar, then pen-in your writing time! Even if you can only squeeze in twenty minutes per day, you’ll see a dramatic increase in your output!
- Give yourself a break. Squeezing writing time into breaks and lunches at work can help you increase your daily word count. Even a ten-minute writing binge could mean a huge breakthrough in your plot or that perfect bit of dialogue you’ve been looking for. Because some of our best writing ideas come when we’re enmeshed in other activities, mini writing breaks scattered throughout the day can move your project along in small but significant steps.
- You can do it in the car. Don’t use pen and paper here, folks. Many cell phones are equipped with recording capabilities, and there are freestanding recording devices as well as apps for your smart phone or other mobile device. Use driving time to record your thoughts and you can transcribe them later. Bonus tip: Don’t have a recording device? Call yourself and leave a voice mail!
- Sacrifice. Sometimes in life we have to make choices. Give up one of your TV shows and use that time for a weekly writing session. Reconsider accepting every party invitation that you receive, and ask yourself if extra-curricular activities like playing on a community softball league are more important than getting your writing done.
- Ask for help. If you have too much on your plate and simply cannot find time to write, try delegating other tasks to friends, co-workers, and family members. This will free up time in your schedule that you can devote to writing.
- Turn off the internet. Need I say more?
Do you have any writing productivity tips or tricks to share? Leave a comment!
#7 is HUGE. All of these are great tips but yesterday I signed out of email for the first time to write and I was so much more productive than I usually am. Great advice!
I have such a hard time turning off the internet, but when I do, more writing gets done (that’s for sure!). As much as I love the web, it’s an enormous distraction!
I think I probably use a combination of techniques, if that’s what you can call them, to get myself writing. This summer though, when I’ve been editing my novel to a tangible (and very tricky!) deadline, I’ve had to go for the sacrifice route. That’s seen me work all day (at ‘work’ as a full-time copywriter) then get home and crack on with my novel until the early hours. It’s been awful, but sometimes it’s necessary to simply, well, ignore everything else.
I think sacrifice is probably the one thing most would-be writers fail to do. Most people are just not willing to give up their favorite TV shows (or other leisurely activities), so you should be proud of yourself.
Since I started doing the ‘write first thing in the morning’ technique a few weeks ago, I’ve noticed a dramatic increase in not only my output, but my mood for the rest of the day. Also, it frees up my muse to think about other plot points or themes instead of worrying about getting my word count down at 11pm when all I want to do is sleep!
I have to admit that I haven’t been very good at this in recent months, but whenever I get back into the habit of writing first thing in the morning, I have the exact same experience — more productivity and mood elevation. And it’s definitely beneficial for those of us who need a good sleep each night!
#7 is the caught between the rock and the hard place. Much of my writing and support are online. I currently do not have internet at home. So when I’m home I’m not distracted and have been writing more but I need longer times away from home to do my online work and connections. What to do…what to do?
Well, you could always set aside a scheduled time each day at home, where you have no internet, to simply write. It sounds like you actually have a natural separation of computer time with and without the distraction of the internet.
You can also compose blog posts and emails and other writings offline and then copy and paste them into your online tools later when you do have access to the internet. I did something like that when I was using a laptop before my house had wireless internet access and it worked pretty well, although I did occasionally get frustrated when I wanted to look up something (regarding whatever I was writing) but could not do so without the internet. A smart phone can solve a problem like that, however.
#4 – Writing in the car is something that I have been interested in doing, just haven’t. Now I know that I should get a tape recorder and then transcribe later. Thanks!
I actually only use this method when I have a really good idea that I want to record so I don’t lose it, and I pretty much always do it by calling myself and leaving a voice mail. That way, I’m sort of forced to transcribe it whenever I clear out my inbox. Super useful!
But, Melissa, if I turn off the internet, how will I read your posts? These are great tips, and I’ll try to put more of them into action just as soon as I have the time … I’m thinking sometime in November… (grin)
Well you don’t have to leave the internet turned off permanently! LOL. You’ll have to log in every so often to post on your blogs (and to stop by and visit here!). Hehee.
Hi Melissa: Like you say, sometimes it’s about sacrifice: Sacrifice half an hour of sleep and wake up earlier to write; sacrifice part of your lunch hour; if you absolutely don’t have time to write now, then you need to take some time away from something else.
For some writers, sacrifice is not a problem because they’d rather write anyway, but there are many who talk a lot about writing and then spend their free time sleeping, watching TV, and doing other non-writing activities. Sometimes I wonder if they really want to write or if it’s better for them as a fantasy…
#6 is a pretty big one.. since I’ve been using that more and more I can say my urge to write has greatly increased.
Nice article and site. Keep up the good work.
.-= David´s last blog ..So You Think You Can Write huh? =-.
Pulling the TV out of the wall has been a big one for me, although I refuse to contemplate how much I’ve compensated for the loss by gorging myself on the internet!
I think something that’s important too, is the space we write in, even if it’s just religiously clearing the kitchen table. If you’re saying to yourself – this is MY writing space – then you’re obligated to produce something in it.
I change around too, when I need to – I chuck a laptop in the van and drive to the beach and stay there until I’m unstuck…
.-= Simon´s last blog ..Ice cream headaches and stumbling blocks =-.
Ugh, television, the ultimate time-suck. It’s amazing how much more one can accomplish by eliminating TV. The same is true for games and aimless web surfing! I agree with you about establishing a writing space, although I do think for many writers that space is a head space. Some writers are able to write anywhere, anytime. Rather than setting up a physical space for writing, they enter a particular state of mind. I’m somewhere in between. I definitely find that certain locations heighten my creativity and whatever I’ve deemed my official writing space eventually runs out of inspirational energy so I have to find a new locale. I love the idea of writing on the go, though I rarely get to pursue that method. Love your website, by the way!
I hate time constraints. Thanks for these tips! Indeed, give yourself a break. 🙂 It’s not good to force yourself to write when tired. Your writing can turn bad when tired.
Thanks, Bryan. We all need a break from time to time — the trick is to return from the break refreshed and ready to work! I do think there’s a fine line between genuinely needing a break and being a bit lazy. I’ve come across plenty of artists who never get their work done because they are tired or “need a break.” On the other hand, there are those who work relentlessly without breaks and their work suffers too. Like I said, a fine line…
Few months ago, somewhere on the Internet, a writer(I wish I could remember the name) wrote that he/she gets up at five thirty every morning and writes until having to go to work.
I remember thinking ‘whoa, that’s some will to write’, until one morning caught me opened eyed at six a.m. with nothing more important to do.
Ever since, my mornings are filled with sounds of keyboard, racing to fill the pages(and let me tell you, I wrote more then 300 pages since then).
With just a half an hour you’re showing your muse that she IS important, and she pays it back!
I’ve heard of many writers who get up before dawn to get their writing done. Since I’m not a morning person, I find that staying awake a couple of extra hours works better for me. However, I think there’s something to be said for writing upon waking rather than after a long, busy day.
My tip is to keep all your rough copies alive, not to trash them. They are all your ideas that can grow in something bigger later. And night is a perfect time for writing for me – imagine Stephen King writing his “It” at 7 am with apartments full of sunlight.
I absolutely agree! I don’t save copies when I make minor changes (typos, etc.) but I do save various versions when I make bigger revisions. Sometimes you read through them and realize you want to keep a section that you edited out. And I too am a night writer!
Hi Melissa. As a person who only loves writing in English, I really enjoy your posts. I remember you said, “A writer considerably have to do two main activities: Reading & Writing.” After I read it, I started but I found many inappropriate Reading which typed in a casual way so I turned to News websites such as CNN, US News ,and The Economist; however, I found those Reading extremely hard, much to my chagrin. 🙁
I wanna ask: can you give me some websites’ address which have easier and high-quality pieces of Reading?
Comment on this post:
#7, #5 ,and #1 are practical, especially #7 (It’s short & sweet :D)
Your procedure for giving advice :
First: on morning
Second: only 30 min. a day
Third: 10 min. would be enough
4th: drive and write in your mind!
5th: Sacrifice inane activities just write and enjoy!
6th: Help me!
7th: Turn off the Internet
I found #1 through #6 impressive ,but when I was seeing #7 It sinks me to my thoughts in the way that how much time this option gave me! I turn it off and wrote this comment and now I must turn it on to send it ! Our life is depending to this harmful INVENTION (INVASION) …. good luck.
Thank you! Unfortunately, I cannot recommend websites with easier reading. I would suggest visiting a library and asking a librarian to help you determine your reading level (or try to take a reading-level test online) and then find books and magazines at that reading level.
I understand your point about the internet and I realize that many of us do our writing on the internet, so in some cases, we can’t turn it off. Let me be more specific: many writers get distracted by the internet. We open Word and try to start writing, get stuck, then go surfing the web. That means we’re not getting our writing done. The point of #7 is to shut out distractions and write.
Good luck to you!
Quite honestly, I just felt seriously reprimanded for laziness. Thank you,
You’re welcome! We all need a kick sometimes, right?