Tips and Tricks
How to get more writing done.
If you are a writer, especially a content writer like me, words have to flow, or I don't get paid. Not just a few words either, I must come up with 50 or 60,000 words a week at least. I also am a mother of three, and two of which are homeschooled, so I don't have much time to spend writing. I can give four to six hours a day tops, but I also need to produce a 150-page book a week, just to pay the bills. I also write articles weekly for a client, as well as my own content, and my own books monthly to be published.
To get productive and not spend all my time writing, there are a few tips and tricks I picked up along the way to get the most out of my time.
This is probably my biggest tip. I found that my productivity started to drop after an hour or two of writing. For the first hour or two I'm pretty fresh, I can bang it out as it were, but I hit that two-hour mark and I started getting fidgety, my mind starts thinking about everything that needs to get done, instead of the story that I’m writing. So, I write in two-hour intervals.
I usually write first thing in the morning between five and seven when basically nobody in the house is up. This is my most productive time, as well as my most creative time, so this is the time when I actually do the content. This is my creation time. I also work between two and four in the afternoon, when my children have quiet time and the youngest has a nap. I work again after everyone has went to bed, an hour or two depending on how the day has gone and how I'm feeling. Working in this way, I can produce well over 10,000/words a day, that is not only written or dictated, but proofread as well.
Find your best times to write and only write during those times. Do not think about it any other time. Only work in your blocked time. Whenever you are most productive, work then and enjoy the rest of your day. Don’t drag it around with you. Know yourself and schedule accordingly.
Within my blocks of time, I don't work straight through, I usually have something that I do for five minutes, in between 10 minutes blocks of straight writing. This is simply because my hands start getting tired after about 10 minutes straight. I can average 80-100 words a minute, but after a while my hands start cramping up. Those five-minute breaks where I usually just watch something on Netflix, not only resets my mind and helps me figure out what I'm going to write next, but it also just physically gives my hands time to not stiffen up and hurt.
This little slice of time is omitted when I dictate my books instead of writing. Then the breaks are only when they're needed, and my mind needs a minute to continue the story. Little breaks are also a good time to get up, stretch your legs, get something to drink, do a couple of dishes if you have a bunch to do. Whatever it is, give your body and mind breaks.
Try it for yourself. Try to write in 10-minute intervals for an hour, give yourself 5 minutes in between. What’s your count? Then, try writing for an hour straight. What's your word count? You might be surprised what the answer is. For me, it was short little bursts that seemed to do the best. I also don't feel as tired when my work block is done, because I get up and move and watched half an hour of a show that I liked. I found that these little changes made all the difference.
There is a bit of science behind it, the idea of giving yourself a reward after you've done something hard, that you may not want to do. I do 10 minutes of work; I get 5 minutes to do whatever.
It took me several years to get to the point where I would even think about dictation. It's strange at first, you're talking into the air around you, but the truth is I can talk faster than I can type. Because I write so much, sometimes my hands just hurt and I don't want to type. Other times, the story is coming faster than I can type it out. If I want a good-flowing book, I will dictate it in a couple of hours. I can't do that typing.
Dictation takes a little getting used to. Not only do you have to verbally say all the punctuation, but you also have to do a more stringent proof before it is publishable. It doesn't matter how long you use a dictation system; they are always going to misread certain words. You’ll get to learn the quirks and I find it makes me far more productive. I also find it makes me productive when I would otherwise not be. Like right now, I really don't feel like typing out an article, but an idea was in my head, and I can dictate it in 10 minutes and be done with it.
Dictation is worth a second look. Microsoft word has a decent one that learns a little bit. There are other dictation systems like Dragon that is supposed to do a better job of learning your voice, but I found the learning process to be a bit too tenuous for me and I just stick with Microsoft. I've used it so much now; I know where the mistakes will be.
Just get it down on paper.
The real secret of writing is just to write. I think we get hung up on the perfect word or the perfect scene or the perfect ending or the perfect beginning, so we never actually write. When you're starting, just start. Even if it is clumsy and it doesn't sound right, just start getting words down on paper. Once you have the words, you can change them and manipulate them into whatever you want them to be, but you can't, until they're actually down.
Instead of waiting for the right words to come to you, just start putting down the ones that are there right now. I never have writer's block, which is surprising because I've written hundreds of books. I just start writing. Sometimes I cut characters out that I don't like, other times full chapters have to be omitted, but most of the time I just fix what I already have. Rearrange words, make it what you want. That will never happen though, your book or article or whatever it is, will never be published if you don't start. So, get it down on paper.
If you are a creative writer, or a content writer or someone who needs to just turn in the project, you need to forget about perfection. The truth is, a book or any piece of writing can be anything you want it to be. There is no right or wrong answer, there is trillions of combinations that can be used. There are millions of right combinations that can be used. So, the idea that you are going to come up with this perfect text where all the words align in perfect harmony and it's going to bring about world peace, it's pretty much a pipe dream. Even if you could find the perfect words to say the perfect things, you're never going to have the perfect audience. So just get over perfection right now.
In real terms, that means that once you reach a certain threshold of proficiency, you need to let it go. If the document is 90% right, do not go over it again to find the two mistakes that you may or may not have missed. Do not go over the document 10 times, changing the wording five times because it might sound better this way. While I am not saying that you don't need to bring quality, at the end of the day, you are the only one that expects perfection. It's never going to happen, second guessing yourself is only going to slow you down. Get it 90% right, that is perfect enough. Turn it in. Publish it. Whatever it is that you are supposed to do with it, do it.
I feel like everyone has something to say, a great book inside of them or a great article. We all have something to contribute, but for some reason we have all these hang ups. We don't have time, we're not good enough, it's not perfect, the list goes on.
At the end of the day, we are all writers because we all communicate. Writing is merely saying something where it can be read multiple times and not heard once. Whatever it is you have to say, there is somebody out in the world that needs to hear it. All you have to do is write it.