12 Strategies That Work
When I first started out as a freelance business writer, I mistakenly thought I’d have plenty of extra time to work on my own personal writing.
Between keeping up with clients and meeting deadlines, there were never enough hours in the day.
You can probably relate to this problem.
Whatever your day job is, it can be difficult to find time to write. And when you do, you might be wondering how to make the best of that time.
I realized that managing my writing time effectively came down to three principles: motivation, inspiration, and organization.
Finding the right balance between motivation, inspiration, and organization allowed me to make the most of my time and start producing more material than I ever had before.
1. Overcome Your Fears. Negative thinking is completely normal when it comes to any art form. But don’t let feelings of inadequacy prevent you from reaching your goals. Don’t allow fear to hold you back from writing. In fact, apprehension can be a good indication that you’re on the right track. Good writing seldom makes readers comfortable. What makes your story memorable is how it challenges your readers.
2. Declutter Your Mind. Before you sit down to begin writing, you need clarity. When your mind is racing in a thousand directions, you aren’t going to produce anything coherent. Take a moment to focus your energy. Try some simple breathing exercises or meditation and avoid multitasking. The clearer your mind, the clearer your content will be.
3. Use The 5-Minute Method. If you’re having trouble finding the motivation to begin writing, this method is for you. Set a timer for 5 minutes and promise yourself to spend that time writing as much as you can. I can usually convince my procrastinating-self to punch out 5 minutes of writing. My favorite benefit of this method – by the time those 5 minutes are up, I’m already on such a roll that I don’t want to stop.
4. Practice Self-Care. A significant aspect of staying motivated lies in making sure you are performing at your best. That means keeping yourself fed and hydrated, getting enough sleep, and preparing your mind and body for the task at hand. Taking care of yourself leads to better productivity and prevents burnout.
5. Embrace “No More Zero Days”. This idea was introduced by Reddit user ryan01.
The concept is basically this: A “zero day” is a day where you haven’t done a single thing to work towards your dream or goal. Whatever it takes, find a way to make sure that you do at least one thing, every day, to work towards your goal. Even if it’s just one paragraph or one sentence, make each day count for something.
6. Define Your Purpose. You can’t expect to produce consistent content if you don’t know why you’re writing. Understanding the purpose behind your writing will help you discover what you want to write. It will also guide how you write – your voice and style. Once you’ve defined the impact you want your writing to bear, it simplifies the process of putting that into words.
7. Make Journaling Your Religion. Journaling allows you to organize your thoughts while exercising your writing muscle simultaneously. With the massive amount of information we consume on a daily basis, journaling works to channel that energy into something meaningful. Using a journal to record your ambitions, thoughts, and ideas makes you more likely to achieve your goals. And journaling isn’t exclusive to writing. Try art journaling in the way of sketching, painting, or making collages to boost your creativity.
8. Keep An Inspiration File. Whenever you come across something inspiring, find a method for logging it away for later. Whether you utilize Pinterest, Evernote, or a physical filing system, storing ideas for later can be a lifesaver on days you feel your creative tap has run dry. Keep adding to your file any time you come across a new idea or insight.
9. Eliminate Distractions. Put your phone away, close out any unnecessary browser tabs, let people know not to bother you. There are endless distractions just waiting to derail your productivity at any given moment. By eliminating any possible interruptions beforehand, you can ensure that you make the most of your time.
10. Create A Routine. One of the most crippling mistakes I made when I started writing was failing to create a routine. For me, what I don’t schedule in, doesn’t get done. Once I established a writing routine, it was easy to stick to the schedule. Having a routine and following it was singlehandedly the best thing I ever did for my productivity. It was unbelievable how much more I was accomplishing on a daily basis.
I also made sure members of my household were aware of my schedule and suddenly, they were interrupting me less and respecting my writing more.
11. Set Daily Goals. A writing routine is great – but it’s not enough. Without setting daily goals for yourself, it’s easy to let your writing time get swallowed up by research and development. That’s why it’s important to set tangible goals for each day – whether it be a certain word count or a number of pages you must finish before you stop.
12. Practice Mis en Place. Anyone who’s worked in the culinary field knows what this means. Mis en Place is a French term meaning “everything in its place”. Before you sit down to write, prepare your space appropriately. Do you have something to drink? Do you have all your required essentials like writing tools, notes, your laptop charger? Don’t allow your writing session to be continually interrupted by getting up because you’ve forgotten something. Create a checklist of everything you need and prepare your space before you begin.
Striking A Balance
For each individual, there’s a different combination of factors that allow you to be most productive. While this blend of techniques is what works best for me, everyone will develop their own strategies through trial and error.
What methods have you developed to become a more productive writer?