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Increase Writing Productivity: How to Get More Work Done in Less Time

Increase Writing Productivity_ How to Get More Work Done in Less Time (1)

Eeeeeerryone wants to get more writing done in less time.

Picture it: A novel every two months. An ebook or two every month. A blog post every weekday. A new fiction series every year.

Doesn’t that sound lovely?

And a tad unrealistic?

Well, yes and no. I’ll tell you upfront I’ve certainly achieved nothing like it. However, I’m on track to write three novels this year, two nonfiction ebooks and 10 blog posts a month … so I’m doing pretty good.

What’s the secret?

No secret. I just use a series of small hacks to plan intelligently, squeeze in writing where I can, reduce the stress associated with I really have to start writing noooooow! Here they are, my gift to you.

Because I’m just that cool..

1. Plan for Smaller Writing Periods

There’s a widespread belief that if you want to get real work done, you have to set out a big ol’ chunk of time.

(This is actually a concept I deal with in Get the Hell Into It, my upcoming sequel to Get the Hell Over It. If you want to learn more, feel free to sign up here for updates.)

The truth is, though, you’re really not that likely to find a huge chunk of time. When was your last memory of having three unfettered hours? And when you had them, did you really sit down and use them to write? And if you did, did you really write, or did you adjust your pen cup and reheat your tea eighty times and generally stare out the window in longing?

… what? No, I’ve never spent an entire afternoon like that.

My point is, we rarely have long unbroken chunks of time. When we do, the presence of all that writing time often creates a high-pressure situation in which we feel so obligated to get something done it becomes less-than-fun.

I solve this with a very simple move: I plan a short project (like, really short – half a blog post or the outline of one book chapter), then schedule it onto the calendar. If I want to do more, yay! But I’ll be totally pathetic if I don’t do less … I mean, who doesn’t have 20 minutes for their writing dreams?

If you can create a “Come on, Sarah, don’t be a weenie” situation like this one, you’ll get it done out of pride alone.

3. Do Your Research Beforehand

Never research and write on the same day. Again, it’s too much pressure. Plus, you fail to open loops. That’s when you leverage the power of your subconscious by digging into something one day, then letting your brain work in the background for a day or two before heading back to it. Try it – you’ll be surprised how, even if you do nothing in the interim, you feel so much more prepared to tackle a project if you’ve dug in a bit the previous day.

So I like to outline the main portions of a project a day or two before actually diving in. I use tools such as The Emotion Thesaurus for planning character studies and scenes or First Draft in 30 Days to plan out a book in under a month.

Incidentally, I also write copy for my Amazon ads ahead of time. For a full treatment of that subject, which is well beyond my abilities, I recommend the current bible of Amazon marketing, Mastering Amazon Ads by Brian Meeks.

3. Don’t Let Yourself Get Up

This is one of the simplest ways to improve writing productivity, but it’s far from the easiest.

Just … don’t … get up.

No matter how badly you need to pee, or drink water or get the roast in the oven. Most of these “needs” are tricks your brain plays on you to get you out of an emotionally and psychologically uncomfortable situation.

Should you pee right in your chair? Well, opinions differ. I say no … but most of the time, you can hold it for the 20 minutes it takes to get some real work done.

4. Get Ridiculously Granular in Your Planning

Here’s an example of a quick website update I have planned for the upcoming week:

  • Monday: Write website intro copy (50 words)
  • Tuesday: Write self-publishing cornerstone content (1,500 words)
  • Wednesday: Post new copy and cornerstone content
  • Thursday: Adjust tiles on home page

As you can see, this totals about two hours of work … max. If I actually manage to stick to Rule No. 3, it’s only about an hour and a half.

But at the same time, it’s kind of a painful list. Even just looking at it right now makes me feel a little queasy, because I just don’t really wanna.

So instead of scheduling it all at once, I break it up like this. That serves two very important purposes:

  • It ensures the project gets done, because even if a fire comes up at work and my kids start barfing everywhere, I can almost certainly still find time to write one 1,500-word blog post (the most time-intensive chore on this list) at some point today.
  • It helps reduce the dread of the project overall, in turn reducing the chances that I’ll take the pffffft screw this, Im eating brownies in the hammock all afternoon.

Although now that I mention it, I really want to do that. Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy.

5. Include Non-Writing Tasks in Your Writing Time

Another mistake we often make is to account only for the writing time, rather than the total time of a writing project.

Sure, the writing is important. But if you’re crafting, say, a blog post, there’s much more that has to happen. To wit:

  • Outline
  • Find keywords
  • Find an image
  • Post
  • Practice good SEO
  • Advertise your post on social media
  • File the document

… and so on and so forth. Your process looks different from mine, but the takeaway is it does take time to do all those other chores. If you only account for the writing, you’ll never hit your goals and you’ll just feel disappointed.

6. Write for a Living

I know, I know. Easier said than done.

Becoming a copywriter, however, is hands-down the best move I’ve made in an effort to improve writing productivity and get more done. Counterintuitively, you might think being a paid writer makes it harder to get a bunch of my own writing done – aren’t I sick of words by the end of the day?

But no, I’m really not. I love writing, after all. Plus, writing is by now such a rote activity for my fingers and brain that churning out a few thousand more words after ye olde children go to bed is really no thang.

If you’ve been here on the blog for a while, you already know what I’m going to suggest. So, in the interest of saving us all some time, I’m going to cut right to the chase:

Take my copywriting course.

You too can become a full-time writer, get paid well and live in Belize (if that’s what you desire, of course). So go ahead, check it out!

And if you’re not ready yet, I invite you to come on down and check out the Free Resource Library instead by clicking the image below. Good luck!

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