Most of the time, being a writer is something you enjoy doing. Whether it’s just for fun, you’re writing the next great American novel, or you work as a content writer for a startup, you find that you can write pretty well most of the time, and produce a reasonable amount of words to get in the work you need. But sometimes, you get stuck. Maybe the muses just aren’t doing their work. Maybe you’re burnt out because of all the writing you’re working on. Whatever the reason, there are times when it’s hard to be a productive writer. But if you want to make it as an artist (or as an entrepreneur, if you’re a freelance writer) in this world–then you need to force yourself to be productive.
Luckily, there are some great ways to boost your productivity, without having to sacrifice the quality of your work. It’s all about using the right strategies, so read on if you want to learn more about how to get that writing done fast and well.
1 Choose a specific place and time for writing
When it comes to getting work done well, it’s all about developing a routine. There’s a reason why most nine to five work happens in an office, Monday through Friday, on set hours, and it’s because it’s effective. You sit at your desk, and you feel more ready to work. Business innovators like Tom Zaccagnino know this; if you think of your writing as a business (even if it’s just a weekend hobby), you’ll be way more productive. And if you’re a crime writer, then you want to write as fast as you can now that crime novels are the biggest-selling genre in the UK.
So choose a specific place, whether it’s a desk you set up in your guest room or your local bookstore’s coffee shop. And decide on a time to dedicate to your writing, whether that’s waking up at 5 am to write before work, or dedicating five hours every Saturday. Once you’ve created a routine, you’ll feel ready to face the pages or screen every time.
2 Get offline
One of the greatest distractions in today’s world is the Internet. When it comes to writing, work that takes your full focus away from everything else, the act suffers when you’re browsing online. Even if you’re telling yourself that you’re researching something for the book, you somehow end up on BuzzFeed or checking Facebook notifications. Whatever your online addiction of choice, it’s just too risky. So use an Internet blocker on your computer, and put your phone on airplane mode.
By 2019, mobile will surpass TV as the medium attracting the most minutes in the US, which goes to show how addicted we are to these devices. So the best you can do is spend some time away from the rest of the world and with your fictional one!
3 Set word or hourly goals–and create a calendar
Having goals is important to any project. When it comes to writing, especially, you need to do this because it’s too easy to feel like you’re working a lot by simply thinking about your writing. Especially if you’re writing for yourself (as opposed to for a client), you can feel like you’re writing when you aren’t getting any completed. So set word goals (like Graham Greene) or an hourly goal if you think that works best for you.
Then, create a calendar and schedule this time. That way, you’ll stick to it, the same way that you stick to eating healthy or going to the gym on a regular basis. It will pay off, whether you write that book you’ve always dreamed of, or make $9.5 million from your books, the way Dan Brown had as of 2016.
4 Make yourself accountable
Finally, you need to make yourself accountable. Otherwise, it’s too easy to “commit” to your writing in theory, without ever sticking to it. The best way of doing this is by getting a writing partner or joining a class. That way, you’re expected to submit your own writing–and learn from others, too, by reviewing their work. Because writing is such a solitary act, being part of a writing community makes a huge difference.
The application fee for the University of Maryland’s MFA program in creative writing is only $75, which is well worth it considering that they’ll fully fund your studies for two to three years. But if you can’t commit to writing for such a long time, taking a class at a writing center or library works, too.
These are some of the best ways to stay productive as a writer. What other strategies work for you?