Getting the most out of your writing time is pretty damn important. Here’s how to make the most of the time you have dedicated to writing.
Alright. Let me drop some productivity knowledge on you today. Firstly, I write for a living. I’m a freelance writer and spend my days writing for different publications and without being productive, I wouldn’t be able to get work done and that means I wouldn’t be able to buy food so…I’ve kind of made productivity my bitch.
What’s that got to do with writing a book, though?
Well, I use a lot of the same methods when writing my book as I do when actually working. Implementing these methods helps me get shit DONE when I want to.
Otherwise, I’ll sit around fiddling my thumbs and checking Twitter and I’ll never actually get my book written. And with an 8k words a week writing goal, I need to focus come writing time.
Let’s not waste time when you only have a limited amount of it to write. Here’s how you can stay productive.
1. Have a designated writing spot
This isn’t always necessary. You can write in many different places but if you’re the habit-forming, routine-loving type, you’ll benefit greatly by having a very specific place to get your writing done.
This not only helps limit distractions, but when you write in the same place each time, it helps put you back into the same mindset you were in previously. It’s like when you lay down in bed – no matter what time it is – you’ll get sleepy. Your body will be trained to know that sitting down at your desk, or on the couch, or at the kitchen table means it’s writing time.
This is how it works for me, anyway.
You also want to be comfortable. Having a nice desk chair or recliner or beanbag chair or whatever the fuck you want to sit and write at will help. If you’re uncomfortable, you’re going to be fidgety and that’s a distraction in itself.
2. Put. Your. Phone. Away.
I don’t really think I need to elaborate on this. Keep your phone put away. In fact, put it far away and then put it on silent. Don’t let anyone bother you. I know how distracting Twitter can be.
Throw up a quick Tweet about how you’re #amwriting and get to actually writing! Don’t pick it up until your designated writing time is over.
3. Set the mood
This doesn’t really work for everyone, but some people love to get in the mood for writing by lighting some candles, making some tea or coffee, getting the right music playing, and settling into a very comfortable place.
I don’t really do this anymore. I like writing in silence. I might listen to some music beforehand or light a few candles but it’s not really necessary for me, personally. I find my mind works best when I don’t really have distractions.
I do, however, love putting some essential oils in my diffuser while I write because it just helps me focus – especially any citrus blends I use.
4. Gather all your shit before you start
By this, I mean if you have notes and your outline or you need anything else right next to you when writing, get it before you even sit down. Don’t have a reason to get up while writing because it’ll take you out of the moment.
I personally use a binder to hold all of the stuff I need for writing. My outline is in it, my world building notes are in it, and absolutely anything I would need to write will be in that binder. And I keep it right next to me while writing.
5. Do some word sprints!
If you’re not sure what this is, it’s where you set a timeframe and all you do for that time is write. No editing. No stopping to read things back. You just sit and write.
This works by forcing you to just add words. I know how hard it can be to want to read back through what you have but this often stunts any progress you could be making.
You can also hit up Twitter and connect with others who have time to do a word sprint. When you’re done, talk to each other about how it went and how much you got done. You can even decide to do another one right after.
The point here is that word sprints force you to focus and just get the words out.
6. Set goals and reward yourself
You know what gets me through the workday? Knowing I get to work on my WIP after.
The goal: get work done. The reward: writing.
Obviously, I have other goals and rewards for making progress on my WIP. And you should too! Having a goal gives you something to reach for and giving yourself a reward gives you incentive to actually get it done.
Yes, getting your book finished should be incentive enough but when that goal is still so very far away, it helps to have little goals and rewards to help get to you that point.
I personally like to use food and little gifts as rewards for myself:
“If you hit 8k words this week, you get to go to the food truck.”
“If you finish this chapter, you get to order a new face mask on Amazon.”
It’s not really that much and I don’t give myself big rewards for little things, but it does work for me.
7. Make a list and tackle things one at a time
If you’re someone who gets overwhelmed by having to sit and write 2k words in a single night, make a list. Write down which scenes you’ll need to get done and then work on them one at a time.
Thinking of these in smaller sections instead of large, unattainable goals helps put your mind in the right place. It’s easier to think, “I just have to write this scene where they discover the body,” than it is to be like, “I have to write the scene where they discover the body, then search the grounds, then find the person responsible, then punish them in order to get this chapter done.”
When you break goals up into smaller, more attainable goals, you’ll be a lot more productive. You can even separate them and do word sprints for each.
8. Quit editing while writing
And this is coming from someone who edits as she goes. But there’s a difference between editing through the previous day’s work before adding on and stopping yourself every paragraph to go back through the previous one and adjust things.
This may work for some people but overall, it’s going to slow you down and you won’t get much done in the time you have designated to write. If you continuously stop to go back and reread what you just wrote, two hours will have gone by and you’ll only have a page or two of writing done whereas you could have had 5-6 pages completed.
Making the most of your writing time is super important – especially if you’re someone with a full-time job or school or kids or any combination of those. These are some things I use personally to help me focus when writing.
Do you have any secret weapons when it comes to staying productive while writing? Comment below!
Essentially, staying focused is all about knowing yourself and what distracts you regularly, and then eliminating those distractions when you carve out time to write.