from JOANNA PENN at The Creative Penn
Time seems to fly by and our writing goals can sometimes fall behind in the craziness of the day to day.
Balancing writing with ‘real life’ and business tasks as well as family and other commitments can become a strain.
But we need to step back now and then, assess the situation and reset our behaviors in order to achieve our goals.
I’m not a productivity geek, but I do have processes and systems and I love to learn about new ways to optimize my workflow. I recently read ‘Manage Your Day To Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind‘ from 99U, one of my favorite blogs.
It gave me plenty of pages of notes, but the significant changes for me are:
Do not check email or social before I have done my first creation block of the day
e.g. 1500 words on latest WIP. In order to achieve this, I have removed my email app from my mobile phone and am using Antisocial software to block access to those while still allowing me on the internet for research (which I often need as I write). I started doing this at the beginning of the year, but I fell off the wagon. Not firmly back on it.
Look strategically at personal and business goals and decide what I can get rid of and what I can streamline.
I’m still looking at this but I will be restructuring this site somehow, and making the process flow easier so I have more creation time. But don’t worry, it won’t be going anywhere!
I asked my email list about their tips for productivity
Here are some of the responses I received back (some paraphrasing). Perhaps they will help you, or you can add yours in the comment section below.
[By the way, you can join the email list by signing up and ownloading the Author 2.0 Blueprint here]
Benjamin Tiller: I get my writing done first thing in the morning before work – with no TV, no phone, no wifi on the laptop. Word count goals have been great. I utilize the full screen feature in Scrivener to limit other distractions.
Annemarie Slee: Try www.workflowy.com. Easy for list making, but also very useful for outlining your ToC. You can set times and dates easily too.
Attention management, not time management
My daily word count chart
Jean Reinhardt: I found that when I was stuck on my YA book, I could write if I switched genres (to a short story, now a novella). This means I am writing two books at the same time, but switching genres works for me and keeps things flowing.
Find what works for you – even if it is in the bathroom!
Jason Lewis: the only way that I can write effectively is to completely lock myself away (metaphorically) from social media. The best way I’ve found so far is to take a long train journey; get the netbook out and just write like there’s no tomorrow. Racked up six thousand words the other day (my single most productive day by a long distance) on a five hour journey. The reason being I cannot get a signal on my phone and I refuse to pay to access the internet on the train.
Karlene Cameron: When I write, I keep the computer turned off. That does it for me.
Lyle Nicholson: Set a block of time, and then use it. If it’s one hour or three hours, close your door, or your external senses and write. Even if you don’t write, and you just doodle on a pad, or write silly things for the hour or three hours, use that as your creative process time. The mind is an amazing instrument, if you give it space and time, it will take you in marvelous directions.
Write by hand – away from the computer
Carlie Van Amerongan: I’ve just started doing my writing by hand. I used to do everything on the computer, and I would easily get distracted, by all the other things I could do on the computer… and no amount of willpower would help! Since I’ve started doing it this way, I’m much more productive, even if the rate of words to page is a little slower. I’m enjoying the process more, and I think in the end I get more words out. Far from a productivity tip, this is a brand new practice for me… but so far it seems to be working.
Kathleen Heady: I carry an old-fashioned legal pad with me, or a notebook would do, and when I have time throughout the day, I work on whatever my current writing project is — longhand. I substitute teach so I often have downtime to do this, but sometimes it is easier to pick up a pad of paper than go on the computer with all the distractions it offers. Then later I can type up my work when I am in a less creative mood.
Sally Chippendale: 1000 words per day and don’t start later than 10am. If you are blocked move straight on to the next scene. If you have children put their favorite tv show on and neglect them for an hour and a half. I make one decent coffee beforehand; that is my only set up requirement/custom that I allow myself. I printed out and pinned above my desk one long excel spreadsheet detailing each scene in one sentence, headings included day, characters, action, reason. Then highlight each line when complete, for satisfaction value.
Find a few good writing website/blogs and stick to them.
Don’t be distracted by a hundred updates inboxing you each day. This happened to me, for a few days I spent more time reading than writing.
Betty Halsey: disable the internet on my computer and leave my phone in a different room.