It’s too common: Deadlines. Writer’s block. Distractions. These are just some of the things that hinder productivity writers have to battle with every now and then.
Writer’s block can be frustrating especially when you have a deadline to beat. Dodging away distractions can also be a struggle. And cramming to submit on time is always very stressful.
Since writers usually get paid per project or on word count, you may be one of those who want to increase your productivity so you could quickly finish a project and move on to the next.
To help you overcome these challenges, here are ten ways to help you be a more productive writer and help you start writing more in just a short amount of time.
1. In Times of Writer’s Block, Just Write Anything
You may have experienced writer’s block where you just stare blankly at the screen with no idea what to write or where to start. Sometimes, the opposite happens when you are bombarded with a lot of ideas but not know how to put them on paper.
Here, the phrase “write drunk, edit sober” comes into play. Simply write anything that comes to mind. It does not necessarily have to be connected to what you have to write, just write it down.
It does not be comprehensible either. You simply have to push your brain to kickstart. Soon, the ideas—even their proper arrangement—will start flowing in.
2. Rest When Needed
There is a popular principle being shared in leadership seminars called “Sharpening Your Ax.” A story is told of a competition between two woodcutters named Peter and John. Whoever cuts down the most trees wins.
John eagerly chopped down trees without resting; while on the other side, he heard Peter resting for 15 minutes every hour. He was confident he would win; but to his utter surprise, Peter did! Why? Because Peter took time to sharpen his ax.
Your productivity declines when you are too busy and exhausted. Take a nap when tired or be sure you do not miss out on leisure. To be more productive, you have to take some time to renew your strength or yourself.
3. Take a Power Nap Over a Cup of Coffee
While a cup of coffee can perk you up, it is said to make your memory go downhill. On the other hand, a power nap is called a power nap for a reason. It boosts your alertness, energy level, and focus among other things.
The length of your power nap may vary depending on your needs. The longer the nap, the better the benefits you get.
According to experts, a 20-minute power nap will help you be more productive in typing. If your writing job also involves memorizing and decision-making, a 30 to 60-minute power nap is recommended. If you need a lot of creativity, then nap for 60 to 90 minutes.
4. Find Your Brain’s Peak Hours
As a student, you may have noticed that there is that part of the day when your brain is hyped or seems to function at its best. It is that time of the day when it seems so easy to memorize or to think.
Meanwhile, there is also that part of the day when you have to fight hard staving off sleepiness out of your system. As a writer, you may find that there is also a specific time of the day when you are most productive, and when the creative juices are most abundant.
If you are not required to work on a fixed time and time is at your disposal as most writers do, you may benefit a lot from working during your brain’s peak hours.
5. Find Your Sweet Spot
You may also find that there are places that when you sit there to work, your creativity and imagination are pumped up.
Some love working in cafés, others are inspired by sitting by the window. Some do not mind noise as this keeps them awake, others prefer a quiet place where no one can disturb them. Different places work differently depending on the writer’s preferences, you have to find your own.
If you are working in an office, you can still make it conducive to writing by displaying pictures or playing music in the background that inspires you.
Note: What you use to write may be a factor, too. While most people write using laptops, you may find that you write best when using your phone or paper.
6. Try Cutting Down On Food
You may have noticed that you become sleepy after every meal. It is because some oxygen from your brain is used for digestion. You do not need to eat a lot especially when you are working on deadlines and need your brain to function at its best. You are more alert with little food.
Little food does not mean starving yourself though, as some writers even get help in eating or drinking sweets. Eat healthy foods that your body needs to recharge itself, but not too much as to make it lethargic. If you have to, eat little every now and then instead of eating one big meal at once.
7. Turn Off Your Notifications
If possible, stay away from social media or from checking your emails every time you are writing (unless you are waiting for an important message from your client or boss).
Refrain from checking your social media or messages especially when you are the kind who cannot seem to stop browsing once you have started. Or if you are the type who easily gets distracted.
Discipline yourself not to check anything unless you are through writing what you have to write. Do what you have to do first and turn off all notifications to keep all possible distractions at bay. Set a specific time for checking and answering messages instead.
8. Write Every Day
Some writers rest from writing when outside of work. But to keep your writing talent in good shape and so as not to lose it, you have to keep on using it.
This is why keeping a journal is very much recommended when writing is your line of work. What you journalize does not have to be anything related to work or your niche, but it could be just about anything like what happened to you that day or your daily reflections and learnings, or even poems.
Aside from it harnessing your writing skills, it also serves as a stress outlet and could be used as a reference or material for your future articles. This can definitely help you be more productive in your writing!
9. Write Down Any Ideas & Sparks of Inspiration Immediately
Ideas or sparks of inspiration have their moments. It is important that we catch them and write them down as soon as they come or they go back to our subconscious. Some of them rarely come back and some are lost to us forever.
If your circumstances allow it, write them down right away. As soon as you notice that you are in the mood to write or are inspired to write, grab the chance and do not wait for a later time as that inspired moment is also hard to come by.
10. Keep on Reading, Especially on Topics Related to Your Niche
Preparing to write does not happen when the work is already at your plate. Even when you are not working on something, go the extra mile by reading articles that would further enrich your knowledge and grasp of your niche.
Writing becomes a walk in the mills when your brain is full of ideas and information from which you can draw from. As the famous saying goes, you cannot share what you do not have.
Instead of grappling for words to add to your write-up, you will find yourself struggling to limit your words as you have so much to say. That is a good thing!
Being productive not only helps you earn more and takes away a lot of stress and frustrations, but it also frees up some of your time which you could use for other things like leisure, spending time with your family, learning something new, or exercising to keep yourself fit. Better yet, you can get more projects or more clients to earn more.
But it’s important to remember productivity starts with you. You have to do things that will help bring out the best in you or make you function at your best. You have to create habits geared to make you excellent in your craft. Do this and soon you will be able to do more.
Do you struggle with staying focused and productive while writing? Do you have any tips for ways to be more productive as a writer? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!