Writing requires a lot of research, finding the right angle to broach the topic, and discovering an original way to present your ideas. And writers are not immune to procrastination — it’s easy to postpone tasks and do everything at the last minute – or writer’s block every now and then.
Whether you’re a blogger, a ghostwriter or a student who should be working on their dissertation, these productivity tips will help you stay on top of your game.
Separate creating from editing
The writing process usually comprises two essential steps: creating and editing. Creating involves coming up with an original angle for telling your story, putting pen to paper, and finding ways to engage your audience, to grasp their attention and make them nod in agreement. Editing involves proofreading, fact checking and spicing up your material, whether this is a newspaper article, a blog post or a college essay.
For many writers, separating the two is sometimes impossible. This can make it hard to start writing that introductory paragraph when you’re worrying too much about making it perfect from the first attempt. Striving for perfection is one thing — but striving for perfection from your first try can actually keep you from being productive. First drafts are supposed to be imperfect and clumsy. The key to success is to start by pouring your ideas into a document and then combing through the material several times to polish it and apply the finishing touches.
Motivation and discipline
This writing productivity tip might seem obvious but it’s still worth mentioning. The reason anyone does anything is motivation. Writers should take the time to think about what drives them and what makes them work hard. Is it the financial compensation or the satisfaction of publishing a great article? Answer this question honestly and you’ll be one step closer to being super productive.
Then we have discipline. Are you the type of person who starts working on their assignments immediately or do you tend to postpone everything, fully trusting your creative skills to help you nail every deadline? Either way, you should have a schedule and stick to it.
If you have trouble focusing, use the Pomodoro technique: focus on work for 20 minutes and then let your mind run wild for 5 minutes. Repeat until you’re done! If you’re unsure about your writing skills, don’t shy away from reaching out to a professional writing service to proofread, edit and improve your material.
Cancel out the noise
Find it hard to focus when your phone keeps buzzing and people around you are being noisy? Then you’ll welcome this tip. If you like to work in a café or you have to write in a crowded office where you can’t concentrate, you should invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Play some soft, meditative music without words. This will help you focus even better but won’t distract you from writing.
And if you really want to disconnect from the noise, consider putting your phone on airplane mode or muting it. You might not be aware of this, but you probably check your phone every 20 minutes or so. By doing this, you’re actually sabotaging your concentration which makes you lose your train of thought. Take a break from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and you’ll reap the benefits down the road!
Aim for daily targets
If you’re a long-form content writer and you don’t already have a daily target, you’re doing it wrong! Let’s say you have one month at your disposal to hand in a 30,000-word e-book. Instead of leaving all the work for the last week and risking sleepless nights, stressing out and panicking, create a daily writing habit. You can easily knock out 1,000 words per day, editing the content as you go. Not only is this easier for your creative process but you can also produce a higher quality material through continuous reviews, additions, and fact-checking.
Another tip is to divide your work into topics instead of chronology. Start by researching and reading anything you can find on the subject. Then write all the sections, paragraphs or chapters that are connected to the topic. Writing doesn’t always have to be chronological.
Make a list
Whether you’re stressed out, overwhelmed, in a time crunch or simply facing a tight deadline, keep calm and make a list. You might think that you already know the steps you want to take, but putting pen to paper and writing everything down will make it easier for you to cope with the pressure and turn chaos into order.
Use your phone, laptop or a piece of paper – whatever works for you. Regardless of how you do it, make a list, give yourself daily targets and plan time off as well! Not only will this help you stay organized when you’re juggling several projects at the same time, you will also be able to keep count of how much of your time each writing gig takes.