Are You Meeting Your Writing Goals? Try These Productivity Tips For Writers

Posted: June 21, 2013 in Publishing
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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.

manage day to dayBalancing 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!

have you made artI 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

Grace Marshall: It might help to think of it as attention management rather than time management – gets you noticing and tracking the thing that you can actually manage – your attention, rather than time itself. And here’s how to beat writer’s procrastination.
Jon Jefferson: I use three things as a crutch to help me stay focused: The times I write, doing pre-writingto get all the extraneous out of my mind, and timed writing for set blocks of time to focus in.

Word count chart

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!

Stacie Whitney: I’m a mother of a young child who gets up and wants attention as soon as she hears me come out of the bathroom in the morning.  So on that first morning to get my book written, I went into the bathroom with my computer, locked the door, and got to work.  I wrote the entire outline and two chapters before breakfast!
After a week of early morning bathroom writing sessions, I was somehow able to sneak into the living room, and the rest of the book was written (mainly) in early morning hours before the rest of my family was awake.Basically, my tip is to find whatever space and rhythm work best for you and DO that! And be willing to alter it if circumstances change.

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

writing coffeeCarlie 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.

Tom Evans:
1. Breathe in through alternate nostrils five times (use a finger to close each nostril off in turn)
2. Doodle or mind map what you are about to write about
3. Then meditate or go for a walk before you start writing
4. Resist the temptation to edit while writing
5. Have a treat lined up for when you finish each session (e.g. a cup of tea and digestive biscuit)
Tom is an author, bookwright and creative catalyst. His latest book is called The Zone and is an exploration of how to get in and stay in it. More details here …  http://www.tomevans.co/books/the-zone/

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.

Francis Wade, author of Bill’s Im-Perfect Time Management Adventure: In our age, improving your time management skills continually is a must, and it’s best done by slowly adapting new habits, practices and rituals, rather than chasing down the latest gadget, shortcut or trick. Deliberate practice anyone?
There are clearly a lot of similarities, and yes, I know the irony of blogging about this topic and distracting you from writing at the same time!

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