One of the main problems that I hear of writers having is that they don’t have enough time. And while it’s fine and good to say to make time for writing, it isn’t always that simple. For some of us, work, family, social obligations, or chasing other dreams in life come ahead of our writing. And that’s okay. Sometimes real life has to take precedence, otherwise we would have nothing to write about.
However, just because you don’t have much time for your writing doesn’t mean that you can’t be more productive with the time that you do have.
I don’t have a desk job. As someone in the service industry, I never get a lunch break, much less time to jot down a few hundred words on my latest WIP. When I’m home, I’m drained from working long days and have to play catch up with friends and family, as well as clean, cook meals, and take care of the Schnauz-kids, Jake and Greta.
So, how do I find time to write? By being productive with the time I have, of course! So, in the name of productivity, I’d like to share some tips with all of you!
Decide what you’re working on that day.
I like to write in the mornings and try to give myself an hour before I start writing to think, drink some coffee, and consider the day ahead. One of the most important timesavers for me has been to decide ahead of time what I’m working on that day.
This month alone I have pre-planning for Camp NaNoWriMo, writing blog posts, working on a novella, and writing four short stories. And that’s not even including the studying, researching, and social media obligations that I’m juggling.
While this may seem overwhelming at first glance, I can break each thing down and work on them a little at a time. Knowing which of these projects I’m focusing on each day gives me clarity and lets me throw my full concentration into the chosen projects, without flitting back and forth.
Pre-plan what you’re writing.
While outlining is a personal choice and some people prefer not to plan ahead, I’ve found that doing some form of pre-planning is essential to staying on track with my To-Do list. However, I’m not suggesting anything major, like character bibles or 30 pages of worldbuilding. While that approach works for some people, I usually go with something much quicker.
For my blog posts, I have a sheet where I write down two ideas a day. These ideas have small notes written below them that explain what I want to say and in what order. This helps me stay on track and gives me a clear idea of what my goal is.
For fiction work, I do something similar. I write down the scenes in a word document, along with important answers like
a) what does this scene accomplish?
b) who’s important in this scene?
and c) where does this scene lead?
I might have more or less depending on the scene or the complexity of the story, but I try to fill out this overview before or after writing a scene so that I know where I’m going and what I’m trying to strive toward. This at-a-glance outline is also a huge help when I start editing!
Make goals and achieve them
Making and achieving goals is a key factor in my productivity. Goals can be both useful and motivating when used correctly. They also take a lot of practice to become any good at handling them. When I first began to write, I had no idea what type of goal to aim for. Events like NaNoWriMo were fun, but discouraging, since I found myself not able to keep up the pace that I felt I should.
Personal goals weren’t working that well either. I would fall behind and feel terrible about myself, not realizing that I wasn’t giving myself enough time to complete all of the steps of writing. I would tell myself to write 1,000 words a day, but not pre-plan or brainstorm until I sat down at the computer. I would finish a story, but never have enough time to edit it. Then I’d sit and wonder why I had so few ‘completed’ works! It was very frustrating.
Lately, I make the absolute minimum my goal. I try to write a little something each day and let myself be satisfied with that. Rather than sticking strictly to a word count goal, I focus on doing a bit of each thing every day. Writing down ideas, working on blog posts or stories, telling stories with other writers, and editing, as well as looking up new markets for submissions, are all a part of each day’s workload. Thanks to this method, I’m never bored and I make a little progress each day, which adds up! Best of all, these small tasks keep my mind limber while not taking up very much time.
So, there’s some ideas on how to make your writing day a little more productive. How about ya’ll? Do you have any productivity tips? How do you stay on track?