Have you ever sat looking at a blank sheet of paper or a blank word document with the cursor ticking at you for what feels like hours?
Wasting time staring at a blank page can be frustrating, especially for those who already have limited time in a day to write. There are some prolific writers who can whip out a novel in a week or two, but for the majority of writers, that just isn’t the case. Just because you’re not a prolific writer doesn’t mean that you still can’t be productive. Here are some tips to get you writing productively:
Create an outline
Outlines are incredibly useful for writers because not only do they help you organize your plot and ideas, but they are also useful tools for productivity. If you have an outline, when you sit down to write, you no longer have to waste precious minutes going back and rereading where you left off and coming up with what comes next; you’ve already done that work and you can simply check your outline and get writing immediately.
Set a weekly writing goal
The parameters are up to you, but it can be very helpful if you set deadlines and goals for yourself. Say, “I’m going to write 20 pages a week or write for 30 minutes a day or 4,000 words a week,” and commit!
Have multiple projects
This might sound counterintuitive to make yourself busier when you’re trying to be productive, but there are days when you just aren’t inspired by certain writing projects. The best advice is when you’re feeling uninspired by one project is to procrastinate that project with another project. It’s better to spend your time productively writing something else than to scroll mindlessly on your phone with a blank page in front of you.
If another idea keeps pulling you away from your current project, let it. Don’t force yourself to write something you aren’t passionate about in that moment, don’t let another idea drift away. If an idea comes to you, it comes for a reason. Follow your creativity where it leads you.
As much as you possibly can, try to remove distractions from your workspace. For those with demanding jobs, children, pets, and other things that command your attention, this can be more tough. Remove the distractions that are in your control such as turning disconnecting from internet while you write. No social media, no emails, no texts.
As an extra tip, on Mac’s, there is a feature in Microsoft Word called ‘focus mode,’ which disables any notifications that may pop up on your screen and locks you into the document for the time being.
Create a daily or weekly to-do list
Part of being productive is being consistent. Make writing a habit. If you designate time in your schedule to write, even if it’s just for 30 minutes a day, it will help you reach your writing goals. During that time you block out to write, make the most of it by following these productivity tips.
Write at your peak hours of the day
Some people concentrate best in the early morning, some late at night. Whatever your most productive time is, try to write when you are able to put out your maximum creative concentration.
Set a timer
Some may find it helpful to set a 15-minute timer and try to write consistently for those 15 minutes. This is also what is known as ‘steam of consciousness’ writing, during which you don’t have time to really think about what you’re writing. You can choose your topic in advance to have more of a direction, but you’d be surprised how much you can turn out in a short amount of time without your thoughts holding you back.
Writer’s Block is a Myth
Here is a paraphrased quote from international best-selling author, prolific writer, and also the Director of the MA in Publishing program at Western Colorado University, Kevin J. Anderson: “You don’t get to have writer’s block. Do police officers get to have police officer block? Do doctors get to have doctors block? We all get worn out sometimes, but if you want to be a writer, writing is your job. You have to write.”
Writer’s block is just a lame excuse not to write. As mentioned, if you’re feeling uninspired by one project, move to another. Just don’t stop writing.
For more tips on how to make the most of your writing time, check out Kevin J. Anderson’s, Million Dollar Productivity.
No excuses. If you are struggling to be productive, reach out to our creative coaches to get writing today!