Most writers starting out have day jobs, so they have to make the most of the time they have to write. I find it’s better to block out a few hours to write, so you can build momentum, and get into a flow state. If you do get into the “flow,” try not to stop, if you can. This is the time when you’ll be most productive.
However, not everybody has the luxury of clearing that much time from their schedules. Interestingly, there’s a Facebook group called “Ten Minute Novelists” made up of lots of busy people, and plenty of mothers, with kids to take care of.
It might be a good place to share your writing progress, or lack thereof, with other writers in the same situation. You can share tips that work for you, find support and accountability, or just use it as a place to vent.
If you only have limited time to write every day you definitely need to make the most of it. How do you create time to work? How do you make best use of the time? .
The 9 best productivity tips for writers
1. Every night, write a list of the three most important things you need to do. Put the list on your notepad on your cell phone, or slap a hand-written note on the fridge where you’ll be sure to see it. Don’t do anything else until you’ve finished those three tasks.
2. Turn everything off. Find a time to check your phone once a day. Don’t watch TV while writing. You can’t get sucked into a plot or the news. Besides, the news will just depress you, or start you worrying, and wasting valuable time. Music is okay.
Factor breaks into your schedule
3. If you need a break and you’re feeling especially tired, take a bath, a shower, or wash your face. If you’re at the office this may not be easy, but you can wash your face. Warm or hot water, or just feeling clean will give you a quick boost.
4. Make decisions about your everyday mundane tasks before the week starts. Pick out what you’re going to wear all week, for example. There’s a reason Einstein wore a grey sweatshirt every day. Also, if you can, decide about things like where you’re going to park all week, and decide what you’re doing for lunch all week.
5. Listen to podcasts that boost your motivation (like Tony Robbins or Tim Ferris, for example), in the car on the way to work. Or if there’s a way to get some work done (research, for example), listen to the information on audio, and make your commute more useful.
Learn to say “no”
6. You’ve got to turn down people who ask you to do extra work. You can do it, just say, “Sorry, I’m just too busy.” Then prepare yourself for their comeback, such as, “But I helped you out last week.” If you anticipate the reaction, you won’t get caught off guard and agree.
7. Listen to science. Cool down your writing space. Seventy to seventy two degrees is best. Exercise early. Eat brain foods. The best are fish, nuts, seed and dark chocolate. You want a steady stream of glucose going to your brain. Not sugar. It leads to peaks and crashes. Drink water with coffee. It keeps you from dehydrating.
8. Use the “two-minute rule.” If it’s on your “to do” list and you can do something in two minutes, don’t wait. Just do it. Get it out of the way. It will be over before you know it and you can get right back to writing with almost no delay.
Stop halfway through
9. Hemingway perfected a method that helped him start his writing day easily. It got him started, without delay, first thing in the morning. His quote;
“Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.”
When you stop mid-chapter or scene, you already have a pretty good idea where the next couple pages are going. Make use of that.
Of course, there are many more ways to help you stay on track and make the best use of your time as a writer. Try some of these tips. See how they work for you. Incorporate the ones that are effective into your writing rituals.