Writers are an odd breed. When we look like we’re lazing around, we’re probably creating some amazing ideas in our head. And when we look like we’re incredibly busy, we’re probably just facing the computer screen and staring into emptiness. I’m sure all of us identify with the all-too-familiar pain of opening up a blank word document and wondering ‘What next?”
Whether you write for a blog, a website, a magazine or that future bestseller, producing good quality content quickly is a basic requirement. You can’t take forever to submit a piece and you most certainly don’t want to put up shoddy work. To achieve that beautiful state of writing efficiency, it helps to have some hacks that’ll speed up the process without compromising on quality. After all, time is money! So here are some productivity hacks for writing that are guaranteed to make you smarter, faster and better!
12 Productivity Hacks for Writing
1. Find your ‘Golden Hour’
When you write during your most productive time of the day, you’re sure to achieve much more in a shorter time period. For most people, early mornings are the best time to write. Many successful people use this ‘golden hour’ for some free writing – just write in a journal without any particular aim in mind. This will get those creative juices flowing and wake up all your senses so you’ll be ready for work.
2. Batch Schedule Writing Tasks
Batch scheduling is something most productivity gurus swear by. Batch scheduling refers to organizing your week’s total work into tasks of a similar nature, and tackling one area each day. As a writer, you may decide to reply to emails and consider new clients on Mondays, work on blog posts on Tuesday, submit content to websites on Wednesday and work on your novel on Thursday. Rather than spending an hour every day on each of these tasks, assigning a solid day to each one every week ensures they get your complete focus and you’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve in a week.
3. Start with Something
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” – Louis L’Amour
Ah, the blank document dilemma! It’s natural to feel hesitant before starting a new article or post, and this hesitation can waste valuable time. The best thing to do in this scenario is to just ‘turn on the tap’. Start with an outline of your subject, and then elaborate on the outline with whatever comes to mind – your first draft is ready!
4. Turn off Distractions
Distractions are the biggest enemies of creativity and productivity, making them the biggest enemies of a successful writer. And in today’s world of notifications and push messages, it can be incredibly difficult to focus. Our phones’ constant beeps are the biggest offenders, so either turn off notifications for all your apps or simply go the ‘surgical strike’ route – turn off your phone altogether.
5. Set a Timer
One of the biggest reasons people procrastinate is because the task in front appears too huge and time consuming. If you’ve managed to start somehow but are struggling to keep the momentum going, use the Pomodoro technique.
According to this technique, you set a timer for 25 minutes and work during the entirety of this period – no distractions, no excuses, nothing. Once the timer goes off, you stop and take a break for 5 minutes. And then repeat the process. If this is too hard, you can reduce the interval to 20 minutes. Sometimes you may find that you’re so much in the flow you don’t want to stop!
6. Ditch the Details
This tip probably sounds counterproductive to good writing. Yes, details certainly make your writing much more colorful and effective, but they can also derail you while you’re making progress through your work. Leaving your writing to look for things like research material, people’s names, facts and figures can break your flow and cause you to lose momentum.
To deal with this, it is recommended that you leave space for such facts, maybe marking it with an ‘X’ or ‘?’. Once you’re done with your draft, you can go online and fill in all the details.
7. Go back to your ‘Why’
When you’re going through a stage of frustration and are really in no mood to write, think back to why you started writing in the first place. Maybe you wanted to tell the world that untold story inside you. Maybe you feel passionately about a certain issue and want to voice your opinion. Maybe you want to earn a serious income. Maybe it’s all of the above.
Whatever your reason is, going back to it will reignite your writing passion and you’ll find yourself wanting to write. Make the most of this moment and don’t let it pass!
8. Build a Bridge to Tomorrow
This is one of the best techniques to nip that procrastination in the bud. If you’ve scheduled your writing tasks for the whole week, you’ll be aware of the work you have to do tomorrow. Before the end of today, create a rough outline or draft for the first task you have to tackle tomorrow. Starting the next day knowing that you already have a base to jump off will help you get straight to work without further hesitation.
9. Capture Ideas Anywhere
You never know when a great idea will strike you, and if it’s related to something you’re currently working on, you want to make sure that you capture it while it’s fresh. You can do this by carrying around a small notebook or if that seems too cumbersome, you can use any of the many idea capturing apps out there. This way, when you sit down to write, you have your valuable ideas ready for you to use.
10. Have an Inspiration Bank
Similar to capturing your ideas in a single place, it also helps to have an inspiration bank of others’ ideas too. Anecdotes, quotes, movie dialogues, song lyrics, memes or articles – you can store all these in an ‘inspiration bank’ of sorts, which will always provide ready fodder for when you’re feeling uninspired. You can do this using Evernote or a Pinterest board, or any other app you find convenient.
11. Try a Change of Scenery
Sometimes a change of location is all you need to get the juices flowing. Many writers opt for a friend’s home or a coffee shop or a train ride. Such places have a multitude of sights, smells and happenings all around, which provide good stimulation and inspiration. For many, simply moving their laptop from their usual place to another room helps light up different parts of their brains.
One of the most important but underestimated hack for good writing is reading. Famous writer Samuel Johnson said, “The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.” A regular reading habit is imperative to become a good and efficient writer. It provides inspiration, boosts creativity and also motivates a writer to write more and write better.
Have you signed up? : The Write Tribe Reading Challenge 2019
If you’ve been looking for ways to write faster, you may be tempted to try all these hacks at once, but that’ll only backfire! Not every hack here will work for everyone, and you’ll have to do your bit of trial and error to find the ones that work for you. And once you do, there’ll be nothing to hold you back from writing your very best!