Productivity Tips for Writers

Mar
2009
18

posted by on freelance writing, Uncategorized

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Writers often labor a long time, raise procrastination to high art, and finally, when it can be denied no longer they sit down to the page or the screen and begin to write. Life holds many distractions, and unless you have luxury of a writing studio in the turret of an old mansion in the country with no telephone, Internet or clamoring children those distractions can quickly nibble away at your writing time. In this article we will look at a few useful resources that can help writers become more productive.

What is Your Current Writing Process?
When approaching a new writing project where do you start? Take the time to document your current process step by step so that you can see what you are doing now and what you might need to change. Do you try to edit yourself as you go? Separating the writing (creative process) from the editing (analytical process) can free you up to write more freely. Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird, encourages writers to give themselves permission to write “sh*tty first drafts,” in order to free their creative mind.

Embrace a Productivity System
Having an overall productivity system for your life and work will also help you to operate more efficiently in all areas of your life thereby freeing up more energy and time for your writing. There are several productivity systems to try. The goal is to find one that suits your style and personality. Dustin Wax of Lifehack.org has written an article about the different productivity systems and why you should adopt one.

Try a New Writing System
Writing FAST, written by Jeff Bollow, and subtitled, How to Write Anything with Lightning Speed, outlines a writing system that can help any writer write faster, and with more clarity and simplicity. Bollow presents a step by step method for generating ideas, chunking projects down, speed writing, and editing quickly.

Establish a Writing Schedule
What are your peak productive hours? For some people it might be early in the morning while the house is silent. Others might produce their best work late into the night. Look at your calendar and plan your work a week in advance. Schedule blocks of writing time during your most productive times of the day.

Delegate and Outsource
What aspects of your work can be outsourced? Take a look at the way you described your current writing process. Which tasks within that process can just as easily be done by someone else? Review your daily ‘to do’ list and select a few of those items and delegate them to someone else so that you can focus your time and attention on your writing.

Manage Distractions
Your environment will have an impact on how you work. Depending on the nature of the project you might want to write in a bustling café, or with the children and pets running in and out of the room. At other times you might need the quiet ambience that can be found in the corner of the library, or in the garden, or alone at home.

Other distractions that can hinder your productivity can be found right there on your computer. As you are writing your mind may wander a bit and before you know it, you are researching medieval hosiery on Wikipedia. Unplug your Internet cable and disable the wifi. Set a timer for the amount of time that you have allotted for this portion of the project. Pickthebrain.com blog has some great tips for eliminating the frustration that often comes with the writing experience.

In our chaotic modern world multi-tasking has become the rule of the day. In the words of E.L Doctorow, “Planning to write is not writing. Outlining…researching…talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.” Unfortunately, if you want to be a good writer you must let those ideas go and learn to focus. Acquiring a laser-like focus on the task at hand will go a long way towards making you a better, more productive and satisfied writer.

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