10 Ways to Increase Your Writing Productivity

Have you ever wondered how some writers manage to churn out so much material in such a short amount of time?

It seems these amazingly prolific authors do nothing else with their lives but write. They would have to in order to produce the sheer volume of work that leaves their desks, wouldn’t they?

Not necessarily.

The key to increasing your productivity is to fully utilize your allotted writing time by writing your already-planned material first. You do have an allotted time scheduled for your writing, don’t you?

Maybe we’d better skip straight to the tips then.

Here are the top ten ways to increase your writing productivity today…

10 – Time Management
Create a weekly time-table for yourself. Be honest about how much time you can afford to set aside purely for writing without distraction. This time is NOT to be used for reading or researching. This is pure creative writing time. Stick to this time-table as rigorously as you can.

9 – Read
Read everything. Read books you’ve read before because you love them. Read really bad books. Read outside your usual genre. Read advertisements on cereal boxes. You’ll quickly learn what makes a story or article memorable and how to spot a lemon at 500 paces. Just read.

8 – Plan
Always have a basic idea of what you will write before you sit down to the task. Think about this in the car (or bus) on the way home. Create the upcoming conflict while you are in the shower. Talk over the impending scene at dinner (and if you are alone, tell the dog/cat/plant – it doesn’t matter!) However you arrange it, by the time you sit down to write it, the scene will be almost perfected in your mind. Writers block cannot exist if you’ve already planned what you are going to write.

7 – Deadline
Set yourself a realistic, yet strict deadline. If you are writing an article, set your deadline for the day after you anticipate finalizing the research. No excuses. If you are writing a longer piece, be aware of your own limitations, but don’t be so lenient on yourself that you procrastinate forever.

6 – Pressure
Put yourself under pressure. Nobody creates their best work under pressure, but it will be enough to get a completed draft finished. You can always revise and perfect it later, but get it done first. Set that deadline, then email your friends and call your family. Tell them what project you are working on. Tell them when you plan to have it ready. Then tell them they must call you (or email you) on that day to read your efforts. If you have not completed this task, they are allowed to tease/taunt/chide you until your ears burn. That’s pressure! And accountability, which is a key motivator.

5 – Ideas
Keep a file or notepad of ideas that strike you. Take it with you everywhere you go and write down every little thing that seems interesting. It might not fit into the story you are working on, but it just may inspire something else later on.

4 – Multi-Task
Never work on only one project at a time. This sounds like the easiest way to distract yourself, but it works. The mind is a strange creature. If you actively begin three projects at once, then anytime your mind refuses to cooperate with one storyline or character situation, switch to a short story or article instead.

3 – Edit
Be ruthless. Remember, you’re on a deadline here, so cut your beloved words to the bone, where the real story is hiding beneath all that flowery prose. Be sure your character’s eyes are the same color at the end as they were at the beginning. Check that your plot makes some kind of sense, and know when to throw out words you love. You can always put them into the ‘ideas file’ and re-use them later, so don’t panic.

2 – Submit
There is no point in writing if you are never going to submit it to the judgmental eyes of a complete stranger. So do a little homework, find a suitable market for your piece and send it out the door. Not tomorrow, but now. It’s written, edited and polished, so it’s no good to you sitting in the bottom drawer. If it is rejected, send it back out. A rejection is not personal. It’s an editor’s way of telling you they already spent their budget this month. Send it to someone with better money sense.

And The Number One way to Increase Your Productivity is…

1 – Write More
Silly isn’t it? But it is true. Switch off the television. Put the kids to bed a little earlier. Get out of bed an hour earlier. Take a pocket-recorder with you in the car. Jot things down in your lunch-break. Pretend to have a tummy-bug and lock yourself in the bathroom for an hour (this works!!) Take a notepad to bed with you instead of a book. Stop surfing the net and open a new word-processing file.

But write more.