It’s October and you know what that means? NaNoWriMo is just around the corner! If you’re like me, soon you’ll be typing away on your laptop sipping multiple pumpkin spice lattes and immersed in your happy writer place.
So as you prep for those 1,000k daily word counts and fight the terrible malady of Writer’s Block, take heed to what these successful writers and self-publishing experts have to share about being as productive as possible.
And when you’re finished getting inspired, please share your own advice for being a productive writer in comments below!
Stop stalling and just write. Block out time to write consistently. Don’t edit as you go. Just get the words down and edit later.
We all have 24 hours in the day, and we all have to balance the real life stuff with the writing. Before I was a full-time author-entrepreneur, I would get up at 5am and write, then go to work. After the day job, I would come home and get on with building my online business. We got rid of the TV so I would have more time to create, and I spent every weekend working. I was so focused on leaving my job that I cut out everything that got in the way. I was driven to schedule my time incredibly well in order to fit everything in.
Find your writing happy spot. This could be your office, a coffee shop, or a park bench by the water. Once you find the spot that you're most productive at, you need to go to that spot for a specific amount of writing time every day and just write.
Create a schedule and stick to it! I like to say schedules are my secret weapon. They're the best way to prioritize.
K. M. Weiland, Blogger and Bestselling Author of Outlining Your Novel
A couple things have helped me improve my writing output. The first is tracking my words per day. I just use a Google Docs spreadsheet for this, and it's cool to see the running total for the month and the year. The second thing that's been helpful is taking a moment first to outline where I want an article or chapter to go and the main points I'll cover. After that, the writing itself feels much less like a blank canvas but more like filling in the blanks.
Make a business plan. I know it sounds boring, but adding structure to your creative pursuits will allow you to identify and limit distractions so you can aim for reasonable, achievable goals. Nothing spurs on productivity like meeting a desired target (perhaps completing a first draft, polishing a novel and querying, self-publishing a book, etc.). The euphoria we feel at succeeding drives us to keep going and achieve even more.
For me, productivity has been a big issue, since for the last 6 years of my writing career, I've had to write with two little ones at home. The biggest thing that worked for me is scheduling my writing time. For many of us, writing starts as a hobby, and even when it transitions into a career, we still have some of that "hobby" mindset. So other things take precedence over our writing. Figure out how much time you can dedicate each day to writing, and safeguard that time. Don't schedule other activities during that block, and learn to politely say No to people who ask you to do things when you're supposed to be writing. Viewing your writing time as work time and treating it accordingly it can really help maximize productivity.
Treat it like a business. And enjoy it - if you don't enjoy sitting down to write, you're probably in the wrong job.
Best tip for being a productive writer, eh? I'd say it's having a set routine, with set hours, and a set location where you do your writing. Use that time, space, and routine Monday through Friday for an entire year and you'll be amazed just how much you can accomplish.
Many authors think that not having a day job will significantly increase their productivity, but I've not found that to be true. Generally you only have xx hours of "good writing time" in you and that doesn't change. For instance, my best hours are between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm. If I write beyond those hours, the quality suffers and I end up having to rewrite. So...two things. First, find the time of day that you're most productive at (as I mentioned mine are in the morning). Second, don't try to go beyond your threshold of "quality" writing. Even if your window is just an hour or two, it's worth stopping when you reach that time.
Michael J. Sullivan, Bestselling Author of the Riyria Revelations and Riyria Chronicles Series
For me it's just embracing the fact that I can do anything for 15 mins, even when the last thing I want to do is sit down at the computer. Those 15 minutes are often hard, and sometimes will be just 15 minutes, but often they'll turn into a solid mornings or afternoons work.
Simon Whistler, Host of the Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast
My best tip for being a more productive writer is to learn free-writing—fast, non-judgmental, timed writing to a prompt—and then practice it regularly. It will loosen up your "writer's muscle" and connect you to the great unending stream of creativity you have within you.
I really have only one productivity tip for writing: Turn off the internet. Works like a charm.
1. start with the writing first. Don't let yourself do anything else until you've done writing.2. focus on time, not wordcount. Commit to writing one hour/two hours a day3. let the rest of the world burn. If this is important to you, you may have to ignore all those other responsibilities and things you should be doing. Eat takeout everyday. Stop bathing. Don't leave your house if you don't have to. Get it done.
Derek Murphy, Blogger and Authorpreneur at Creativindie
Please share your own thoughts and writing tips in the comments below!