5 Practical Tips to Help You Become a More Productive Writer

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Often wonder how on earth some writers can crank out shedloads of quality content when it seems to take you an age to write an article, blog post, or even a letter? Meanwhile, others keep writing more and earning more money. Feeling dispirited? Well, you’re not alone.

Wish you knew their secret? Yeah, me too. Are you forever scouring the net and bookshelves for advice on how to get more done and more words written? You’re in the right place.

Check out these productivity tips and discover how you could build some procrastination-busting habits. You’ll start transforming yourself into a highly-productive writer and be able to power through more work. Later, I’ll talk about the importance of forming habits if you want to become a faster, more efficient writer. First, let’s find out how setting specific goals can help you on your way.

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Set precise writing goals

Come up with smart goals, not generic run-of-the-mill ones. The purpose of these goals is to get you closer to your destination and to act as milestones you’ll reach along the way.

Choose goals you care about that will motivate you. After all, as I’ve written before, being happy and highly motivated is likely to boost your efficiency. You can set short-term, medium-range, and long-term goals. The most important thing is that you give yourself a reason to get up every day. Accept that you must accomplish a particular task by a certain point in time — be that the end of the day, week, month, or year.

Seeing progress creates satisfaction, it all goes back to the power of small wins and how they can help keep you going. And for a writer, nothing beats seeing that the effort you’ve been putting into something was worth it.

Want an example? Imagine you’re writing a novel. Here’re some goals you could set.   

  • A daily word count to hit, say, 1000 words.
  • A medium range goal of having a deadline of 3 months for completion of a first draft.
  • A year-end aim of finishing two novel manuscripts.

You don’t need anything more than that. If you don’t manage to reach your 1000 word target one day, you’ll feel like you’ve missed a step and need to catch up. By having a quarterly goal, you can avoid overwhelming yourself as it takes some pressure off when you fail to hit the daily goal. You know you’ve got time to catch up. The yearly goal is there to keep you on track, and this schedule allows 6 months for editing, researching, and taking a breather.   

Needless to say, the goals you set for yourself will vary depending on what your larger goals are. They don’t have to be big goals either. You might commit to writing for 30 minutes a day or spending less time scrolling through social media. It doesn’t matter as long as the goals you set move you forward and get you closer to achieving what you want in life.

Form the habits of a productive writer

There’s one thing that’s essential to do if you want to consistently achieve your goals in life — be they writerly or otherwise — and that is to form and follow good habits.  

We writers tend to want to live in our dreams. The successful among us turn dreams into goals and then make those goals into habits. If you don’t take these steps, you risk getting caught up in your hopes and never turning your dreams into a reality.

After all, if you’re taking little or no action to achieve what you want, you’re never going to get there.

By giving our dreams form, we’re less likely to sacrifice them in favour of meeting the more immediate demands life places on us. In the face of need, dreams can feel frivolous and like an indulgence you can ill afford. Your dreams may also feel too impossibly large to take on at a given moment in time. They may feel elusive, far away, and impossible to catch, akin to trying to catch moonlight in a net.

To make progress, make smaller goals. If you don’t find it easy to be accountable to yourself with your goals, maybe ask a friend to act as your accountability partner. They can help you stay on track by asking about your progress regularly. They can celebrate with you when you achieve a goal and commiserate with you and encourage you if you fall short. Soon enough, you’ll form a habit.

Use a calendar or productivity planner to keep tabs on your progress. That’s how to start making your writing dreams come true. Soon, I’ll share how you can block your time, to make the most of the time you have available to write in. Next, let’s explore how planning and getting ahead on different projects can help you be more efficient.

Work ahead to become a more productive writer

So, you’ve made some specific goals, recruited a friend to be your accountability partner, and have started to form habits that will make it possible for you to reach them. What’s next? Review your marketing goals.

Do you also want to write articles for magazines or pitch to other markets? Doing that can be a great way of keeping things novel and exciting, which in turn can boost motivation, as I talked about in an earlier post. Here’re some tips.

  • Spot a potential market. Pitch your concept or idea. Don’t wait.
  • Note it in a notebook or spreadsheet, along with a follow-up date.
  • When you’re given an assignment, add the deadline to your notes.
  • Work on the piece and submit it well before the deadline.

By working ahead, you’ll never be caught out if you receive an avalanche of other assignments or falter in your progress towards other goals. That way, even if you do struggle to meet some of your targets, you will always be producing something which will help motivate you.

Block in your writing time

There’s not much to the actual process of writing. After all, as Stephen King says, he writes one word at a time. You can only be productive if you commit to a course of action that will culminate in you finishing your project.

With that in mind, what you need to do is block in your writing time. Set aside a 30-minute block of time in which to write. It’s probably not a good idea to use your phone for this, lest you get sucked into replying to messages and clicking on notifications.

Here’re the steps you can take to block in your writing time.

  • Turn off your phone.
  • Disconnect from the internet.
  • Start writing and don’t stop until you reach your target, or your writing time runs out, not even to research or check a fact. Instead, make a note of anything you need to check to come back to later. When you have a sizable list of stuff to look into, you can build a research and fact checking session into your schedule.
  • You don’t have to use lots of complicated apps or other high tech tools to be able to write. People have been writing for thousands of years with nothing but basic tools. So can you.

Don’t allow anything to interrupt you during this space of time. Guard it jealously. Stick to this habit and you’ll start seeing an uptick in your productivity in a short time.

“When asked ‘ How do I write?”, I invariably answer ‘One word at a time’ It sounds too simple to be true, but consider the Great Wall of China, if you will: One stone at a time, man. That’s all. One stone at a time.” 

Stephen King

Gauge your efforts

This could mean no more than occasionally looking at a spreadsheet. Sometimes, measuring the results of your efforts could amount to spending a few hours examining stuff like:

  • Income from your writing.
  • Number of articles sold.
  • The analytics of your website or social media channels.
  • Number of connections you’ve made with people in the publishing, editing or writing business.

Not a fan of spreadsheets? Never fear. There are other ways you can track your progress. You can use your phone to set reminders and make quick shorthand notes on your progress. Similarly, you can use Google Calendar to layout your schedule, jot down deadlines and prioritise.

Alternatively, you might want to keep a blog to measure your goals. You can track much more than just your writing goals in this way. You can record how many books you’ve read, your progress in your health and fitness goals, and maybe even note details of new restaurants you’ve enjoyed.

Doing this will help you to quickly see how far you’ve come. It’ll also help you figure out what you need to do to advance further as well as how you might want to change your goals in the future. Knowing what you need to do to make real progress in the year ahead will help spur you on to become a more productive, accomplished writer.

Summary

Now you’ve got everything you need to begin turning yourself into a faster, more efficient writer. I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. Try these out to see if they work for you. After all, setting goals, forming good habits, and blocking in time to focus on doing something you love can be useful for anyone. So, start turning your dreams into reality today and get crushing your writing goals.    

Published by Lizzie

Lizzie here. I'm a freelance copywriter and editor based in the UK. I'm also passionate about volunteering and hold a MA in History from the University of Warwick. I've written for a multitude of fantastic websites and companies, including a legal automation software company, a dog training site and more. Check out my reviews on Fiverr and Upwork for more info!

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