Don’t you sometimes wish there were more hours in the day? Think of how much more work you could do in that time! Sadly, this is just a fantasy. If you were to double the length of the day without fixing the underlying issues with your work, you’d just procrastinate twice as much and get the same amount of work done. You need to work smart, not hard. But also hard.
Spend Time Pre-Writing
Pre-Writing is time that you spend on planning, researching and outlining your writing. As a rule of thumb, every hour you spend pre-writing will save you two hours when writing. If anything, you won’t have to go bang your head against a wall to come up with what happens next. The larger the scope of what you’re writing is, the more pressing pre-writing is for your work. You’ll do less editing, less stopping-and-going, and get a more streamlined process in general.
Break it Down and Plan it Out
This ties in to the previous piece of advice quite, since it’s probably the most important part of preparing to write. Before you sit down to work, you’re supposed to have a clear plan. If you’re writing a chapter for your novel, you should know exactly where it starts and ends up going.
Break down the chapter into sections, and work on each section between breaks. Make sure you’re breaking down your work into manageable parts, since it’s easy to get burned out if you work on the same thing for too long. Extensive planning will also remove the possibility of writer’s block, since you’ll have no issues with being stuck on something because you don’t know where it goes next.
Stick to a Schedule
This is pretty basic, but somehow not obvious to everyone. There are writers out there whose m.o. is “I will wait until I get inspired”, but almost no professional operates like this. Set goals, come up with quotas, and don’t stop until you’ve hit them. Track your output each day, and correct workflow errors week to week.
If you don’t force yourself to work at set times and regular intervals, you’re going to procrastinate. Playing video games for three hours before you “get in the mood” to write (i.e. panicking that you’ve done nothing of substance today) is not helping you in any way.
Use Distraction-Free Software
The environment you’re working in will no doubt be reflected in your writing. If you can’t consistently focus on what you’re doing, your work will suffer and you’ll have to spend more time editing. Do you know Write! well enough? It has a minimal design with no superfluous features or visual distractions. If you have a hard time concentrating, enable the Focus mode and you are done with it!
Develop a Leisure Routine
Besides a writing regimen, you’ll need a regimen for your free time. If you write for hours every day, you’ll wear yourself out and be able to make any justification for not doing productive stuff with your free time. Log time for exercising, cooking, and all that other stuff that you hate. You’ll dread it at first, but a routine task is great for recharging your batteries and a morale boost. Look at how productive you’re being, you!
You’ve probably read lots of different advice, life hacks and so on about how to become a better writer with a higher output, and better results. Unfortunately, the only tried and true method that is guaranteed to work is being disciplined and regimented. Stephen King writes at least 1000 words six days a week, and so do other professional writers. Make plans, and give yourself incentives to complete them. And isn’t becoming a better writer incentive enough?
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