I received a lot of feedback on last week’s blog post about writing slowly. Most people who reached out seemed rather regretful that they don’t write faster. While it’s true that writing quickly can sharpen our skills and lead to more published books, the most important thing is consistent productivity, whether you write slowly or quickly.
Here are some tips for staying productive even in the slow lane:
Choose your writing project carefully. Committing to a story you’re excited about will give you forward momentum and provide motivation.
Consider your personal time factor. Look objectively at how you currently use your time. Acknowledge the very real demands you face (outside work, children, aging parents) but also be realistic about where and how you waste time.
Set realistic writing goals. Base your goal on what you know will work, given your lifestyle and time constraints. Don’t overreach. Figure out what you can comfortably write in a week and schedule it in. Whether you set a weekly word or page count, or whether you commit to writing at a certain time, commitment is the key word in that sentence. And that leads to the next tip:
Be accountable. Share your goal with a partner, another writer, an online or in person writing group. It’s even better if they have a similar goal; you can motivate and encourage each other.
Keep your story top of mind. Have a copy of your work in progress readily available on your laptop, tablet, or in print form. Open the file so you see it first thing in the morning. Pull it out on your lunch break at work. Reading what you’re written, even if you get pulled away and can’t meet that day’s (or that week’s) goal, will pull you back into the story more quickly when you do return to it.
Minimize distractions as much as you can. Shut the door to your room or find a quiet space. Turn off social media. Wear noise cancelling headphones (it worked for me when I lived next door to a band!)
Bite off small chunks. Write for fifteen or thirty minutes. Set a timer and don’t stop writing until it goes off. Chances are, when it does, you won’t want to stop.
And speaking of stopping, one of the keys to consistent productivity is taking regular writing breaks. Yes, you read that right. Scheduled breaks help with productivity. More on that next week.