One of the biggest challenges many writers face is simply finding more time to get writing done. Most writers aren’t able to do it full-time and have to squeeze their writing hours in among other commitments. Which makes the little time we do have even more precious. So, how can you maximize your writing time and increase your productivity? Here are my tips:
- Plan your time
This is the number one most important thing for me when it comes to my writing time: I have to plan a time to write. I’m not just going to “find” the time, or magically have free time at the end of the day; there are always a hundred other things that get in the way. I have to schedule a time to start writing, and treat it like any other job or commitment. If I’ve planned to write for an hour starting at 6 pm on Saturday, then I have to be ready to write at that time, regardless of what else might come up. I find that having a designated, scheduled time is the only way to ensure that the writing actually gets done.
- Set goals
One of the best ways to ensure you’re making progress is to set goals for yourself. Start with something broad—I want to finish this manuscript this year or I want to revise this draft and get it to critique partners by October—but don’t stop there. Break larger goals down into smaller, more manageable chunks. How many words per day do you have to write to reach your goal? Or how many chapters do you have to revise? Or how many items do you have to cross off your revision checklist? Set firm goals and deadlines for yourself to make sure you’re on track to reach your larger goals.
- Make reasonable time commitments
Make sure you’re being reasonable about how much you can achieve in a given period of time. If you set extreme goals for yourself, you’ll only be discouraged when you find it impossible to reach them. Make sure you know how much writing you can reasonably do. If you usually write a thousand words an hour, don’t set goals that would require writing three thousand.
That said, it’s good to push yourself sometimes too. You might be surprised by what you can achieve! Recently, I was at a write-in with some fellow authors, and was challenged to write 1,000 words in twenty minutes. I thought it would be impossible—I’d never written that fast before. But, to my surprise, once I focused on the scene and pushed myself to work fast, I wrote 1300 words in that time. I don’t expect to write that much in every session, but now I know that I can push myself more than I was before. Be aware of your own capabilities and your own limits, and plan accordingly.
- Hold yourself accountable
Come up with ways to hold yourself accountable for the goals and deadlines that you set. Some writers do this by rewarding themselves—adding a star sticker to a calendar for every thousand words they write, for example. Another great way to hold yourself accountable is to tell people about your deadlines. A deadline won’t feel so self-imposed and flexible if you’ve told everyone about it! Also, be sure to track your progress in some way—whether through productivity apps/websites, calendars, or spreadsheets—so that you can see your daily progress.
What do you think? What helps you be more productive? Do you schedule your writing time and/or track your progress? Let me know in the comments!
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