If you’re a writer, you know the feeling that you’re not doing enough.
You probably spend hours writing every week. Yet, your list of writing ideas is perpetually long, and you can’t shake the nagging that you’re still not writing as much as you should.
All writers feel this way. But below, I share six relatively easy tweaks I made to my daily routine that helped me become a more productive writer.
If you make the same adjustments, I’m confident you’ll be churning out more copy than ever before.
Wake up earlier (or stay up later)
The world is quietest when most people are sleeping. But if you’re one of the people who’s awake while others aren’t, that means fewer distractions.
No one’s posting to social media, and you’re not getting new emails. The kids aren’t asking you for anything, your boss is snoozing, and your push notifications are quiet.
Take advantage of those times. Give yourself at least an hour, either in the morning or at night, to write.
If you’re a morning person, wake up an hour earlier. If you’re more productive at night, stay up an hour later.
Don’t Netflix and chill.
Early in my self-employment days, I gave myself a treat. Every day, while eating lunch, I streamed a show.
But then I noticed two things:
- I was usually done eating well before the show ended. So what would have been a 20-minute lunch took up to an hour.
- I struggled to get back to work after finishing the show.
So, I gave up my midday treat. Sure, I still eat. Instead of streaming something, though, I often read about writing.
This brings me to the third easy tweak you can make to be a more productive writer.
Read about writing
Writing is not something you’ll ever perfect. Even the best writers, the bestselling novelists, and the highest-paid freelancers can improve.
That’s why reading about writing is essential to becoming a better, more productive writer. Tons of writers share tips, tricks, advice, and lessons learned on Medium, newsletters, and blog posts.
Find writers who share helpful, inspirational and insightful content. Then make consuming their content part of your daily routine.
One warning, though, is not to spend too much time reading about writing. It’s easy to convince ourselves that reading about writing is the same as writing. It’s not.
You still need to write if you want to be a productive writer.
Set a timer
Time yourself if you’re worried about spending too much time doing anything other than writing.
For example, I read while eating my lunch. When I’ve finished eating, I stop reading as soon as I reach the end of the piece I’m currently reading. Then I get back to work writing, researching, or editing.
While I don’t use a timer, you may need to, at least at first. Give yourself 20 or 30 minutes to read, check your email or social media.
Set the timer on your phone accordingly. Then, when the buzzer rings, stop what you’re doing and get back to writing.
Record every idea
Have you ever thought of something you want to write about and then later struggled to remember what it was?
How many times have you thought of a way to start a story or a sentence you want to use, only to forget it when you were ready to write?
Ideas often come to me while I’m reading in bed, just before falling asleep. Used to, I’d try to commit the thought to memory rather than recording the idea somewhere.
Then I got tired of forgetting, come morning, whatever it was that I thought was such a great idea. So, now I enter every writing-related thought that occurs to me.
If I’m in bed or out and about, I use my phone’s Notes application to record the idea. Or, I scribble the idea into my notebook if it’s handy.
And I mean, I record every single thought. You never know what you might forget, and sometimes your simplest or silliest ideas turn out to be fantastic.
Write freeform, baby.
Sometimes writer’s block is the biggest hindrance to our writing productivity.
From turning off Netflix to recording our ideas, we can do everything right, and yet we find ourselves staring at an unwelcoming blank screen. The words just don’t come.
A trick that almost always works for me is to start writing nonsense in my journal. Usually, I’ll begin by writing about what I did the day before or what I plan to do tomorrow.
Before long, I’m writing about something that’s upsetting me or worrying me. Then, I’ll sometimes fill two or three pages in my notebook about a topic I didn’t even know was an issue for me.
Once I commit to paper whatever’s on my mind, I turn back to my computer and, like magic, can write. Somehow, permitting myself to write about anything led clears my writing practice for takeoff.
Next time you’re stuck, try journaling about whatever pops into your mind.
Tweak your way to producing more writing
Being a productive writer means something different to each of us. For example, it may be working on your novel, while to me, it could mean publishing more blog posts.
However you define writing productivity, there are six relatively easy tweaks you can make to your daily routine to be a more productive writer:
- Add at least an hour to the beginning or end of your day and use that time to write.
- Limit the time you spend streaming shows and movies.
- Read books, blog posts, and newsletters about writing.
- Use a timer to protect your writing time.
- Record every single writing-related idea that pops into your head.
- When stuck, try journaling about whatever comes to mind.
Making these adjustments may not guarantee you’ll become a bestselling novelist. But if you incorporate them into your daily routine, you will produce more writing than you ever have before.
This article originally appeared on Medium.