I talk a lot about getting writing. If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you could probably say my motto is “Get Writing!”. I normally tell you that this is a simple task: ass in chair, fingers on keyboard. That the hardest part is just starting. That once you can sit down and envision how it’ll feel to be done, things flow easier.
There are special tricks you can do to make your writing practice more worthwhile and productive, every time you sit down to crank out a bit more work. You can still sit down and put your butt in your chair and your fingers on the keyboard and not produce anything worthwhile, so it’s your job to make the most of your writing time.
I strongly stand by the idea that any writing at all is better than no writing whatsoever. But if you want writing to be your career, it is important to make it not only a habit but a disciplined habit.
Basically, you can’t just sit down, type out some gibberish and call it a day.
So, these are my top tips to make the most of your writing time. They’ll help you make your writing sessions not only worthwhile, but beneficial to your skills, your big WIP, and your goals.
Build in time for prep work.
If you sit down to write with no prep or forethought, I can guarantee you won’t get much done towards your goals. Trust me, I speak from experience. You’ll be so much more productive if you get the most-likely-to-distract-you things done before you sit down to work.
What distractions do I mean?
Things like, but not limited to:
- Getting a full glass of water, tea, coffee, bourbon, whatever you need to sip while you write.
- Giving yourself a goal to accomplish, whether that’s write 500 words, edit two pages, brainstorm and outline a new short story, something, anything to accomplish in your time.
- Go to the bathroom.
- Pick a playlist, if you like listening to music while you write. One that you won’t be changing the song every other tune.
- Disconnect from the internet
- Turn your phone off or put it in airplane mode
See what I mean? These small tasks can rob you of your precious writing time if you don’t quickly and efficiently get them all done before you sit down to write. It will save you eons of time and make you more efficient and productive.
Keep a notebook nearby.
This isn’t actually to do your writing in. This notebook serves another purpose entirely: to keep you focused.
Say you’re writing along and you’re in the middle of a really good fight scene. You pause for a second and wonder “wait…what sort of sword should this guy have?” and off you go on an internet searching spree and before you know it, your writing time is gone and you accomplished half as much as you could have.
When an idea like that comes around, don’t pause your work and jump away to research land! Write it down in your notebook to address later. Don’t waste your precious writing time on little details like what dress should your queen wear, or texting your husband to pick up more cat litter, or whatever it is that could pull you away from your writing.
This trick has saved me HOURS. If something pops into my brain, I pause, take the second to write it down, and carry on my way. Writing those little ideas down gets them out of my head, so I know I’ll eventually look into them again, and lets me carry on with my writing without feeling the need or pressure of curiosity to go search out what the reaction between Hydrogen and Helium is. Or get distracted by funny cat videos on Youtube.
Pre-plan your next writing session after you’ve reached your writing goal for the day.
I mentioned earlier that it helps to have a goal. You can do this just before you sit down, as you’re making your cup of tea or going to the bathroom. OR, once you’ve finished your writing session for the day, you can pre-plan for your next writing session!
This is so simple. Just brainstorm and write down your goal for your next writing session. Make sure you write your goal somewhere you refer to often, or somewhere you’ll see as you sit down the next time you plan to write. Not only does this take the pressure off your time at the beginning of a writing session, but it helps carry your momentum from session to session.
Instead of trying to remember what you worked on last time, and what you wanted to do this time, writing your next goal down somewhere you’ll see it will not only save you time, but keep you writing!
Keep an arsenal of worst-case-scenario writing prompts.
Say you didn’t pre-plan your goal during your last writing session, or your kid keeps asking you to watch Spongebob with her or the dog is begging to go outside and you don’t have a bunch of time to write. Don’t give yourself the excuse to not write!
Create a folder of quick, snappy writing prompts, things you can write out in five minutes that will still work your brain and get you writing. This folder can be a physical folder of printouts or pages from magazines or notebooks. It can be a Pinterest board full of quick prompts or a folder or document on your computer that you can refer to for a quick idea.
It doesn’t matter how you keep the ideas, just have something that works for you so that you can get writing on the days when it really feels like you can’t!
How do you manage your writing time? Do you have any tips or tricks to help keep the distractions at bay and enjoy a full and productive writing practice? I’d love to hear them in the comments!