Writing is a very personal and strenuous activity. It engages the mind, body, and spirit, and it takes a lot out of the writer. It is not surprising that many writers experience writer’s block occasionally, but it can affect productivity big time. It comes to a point that you dread sitting in front of your computer and staring at that blank screen.
That’s not such a big deal if you are just writing for fun. However, if you write for a living, that can be a major problem. Here are seven tips to improve your writing productivity and help you make more money through writing.
Productivity Tip #1: Have a routine
The very first thing you should do is have a routine. Routines may sound boring, and they are most of the time. However, routines provide structure, and as novelist and author Doug Coupland said, “Most people can’t handle a structureless life.” Observe children that grow up without a regular routine in their life. They become shiftless and directionless. They have no ambition and no goals in life.
Some people believe that routines kill creativity. That is not true at all. What kills creativity is a limited mind; routines can help you break through your limits. When you have a routine, you have to make fewer decisions, saving time for more important things. Minister Michalel Beckwith observed, “Each time we bring to routine activities an awareness of ‘now,’ we raise our vibratory frequency and cause the freshness of the moment to fall upon us.”
Routines are conditioning, and it is a cure for procrastination. It can trigger a response for you to do whatever you set out to do. If you establish and follow a routine with your work, you can train your mind to work at optimal levels to write at a certain time of the day and certain days of the week. You may even find that you feel uneasy when you break your routine, because you have become used to it.
It is easy enough to do. Block off a part of your day (or night) when you feel most like writing. Mark it off in your calendar or task manager and follow it. You don’t even have to write anything if you don’t feel like it, but do assume the position until something breaks through or you finish your “shift,” whichever comes first.
Productivity Tip #2: Take a break
It is important to keep writing when you are supposed to, but it is also important to stop. As Chicken Soup for the Soul author Alan Cohen said, “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”
You need to take a break to recharge your mind and body. Your brain can only process so much information before it slows down and finally stops working. American writer Ernest Hemingway said, “I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”
Don’t wait for your own writing well run dry. Give yourself time to rest and do other things. It can bring your writing mojo back in full force and make you much more productive with much less effort.
Productivity Tip #3: Get organized
You need to clean up your act. Even fiction writers have to do their research to give their work credibility. Flying by the seat of your pants might work for a little while, but you waste a lot of time looking for things you need for your work. Writers have a reputation for being bohemians, but the most prolific writers are those that have good organization.
If your mind is a disorganized chaos, and you have no idea where to start, some online tools can help you. One of these is Freedcamp, a central repository for everything you will ever need for your work. It has a post-it style interface, where you cans tick your ideas on a virtual whiteboard, and you have a clear to-do list to follow. If you work with a team, this is here is a paid version, but the free one is all you really need.
Productivity Tip #4: Remove distractions
Many things around you are a potential source of distraction. It can keep you from concentrating on your work and breaking your train of thought. It could be the television in the living room, dogs barking, friends dropping by, text and calls, children playing, and social networks.
Remove yourself from the path of temptation by putting your workplace away from everything. Shut to door and put on a pair of noise-blocking headphones. Turn off your mobile devices or leave them somewhere else. Use a site blocking app like StayFocusd for Chrome or Cold Turkey to keep you from spending hours on the time-wasting sites. You can also keep yourself from getting distracted from the job of writing by using a distraction-free screen environment such as Q10. This app is particularly useful because It can help you keep track of your work and break time, and even your word count. It automatically saves your work and loads the last file you worked on so you can pick up where you left off.
Productivity Tip #5: Get professional help
Your job is to write, so you want to write as much as possible. While research is important, you can waste a lot of time doing it yourself. You can get a professional outfit such as BestEssays to do your research for you and provide you with citations and a summary. You can also use this service to help with editing and proofreading, as most writers have a hard time checking their own work. You can make a lot more done if you learn to delegate some of the non-writing tasks you have to do.
Productivity Tip #6: Keep reading
Writing is a skill, but it is essentially a creative act. You can improve your productivity by always looking for inspiration and widening your vocabulary, and that is best achieved by always reading. You can hone your powers of expression, and reading good books by your favorite authors motivate you to try harder to be better at what you do.
Most writers are avid readers, but you might think that you no longer have no time to read. That is a mistake. Reading can give you new perspectives, and you can learn something new every day.
You can use an app like Feedly that will provide you with fresh content based on your preferences. You can also save a collection of your favorites, and monitor your preferred sites for new content.
Productivity Tip #7: Watch the attitude
Writing is not easy, and it can be scary when you get hopelessly stuck. It is often tempting to simply give up and walk away. Always believe that you can do what you set out to do, and believe in your ability to do great work. You may not always do award-winning work, but you should always strive for it.
Singer Donny Osmond said, “You have to believe in yourself, otherwise you can’t do it. If you don’t believe in yourself, how do you expect anyone else to? Because ultimately, you’re the one who has to do it.”
Writing is not for everyone. It is hard work, and it takes a toll. However, if you follow these tips and stay the course, you can be as productive as you need or want to be.