Writing a book is a long process–especially if you’re writing part-time. Even if you’re a fast writer, it can still take weeks or months to finish a book. Considering it takes so long to write a book, wouldn’t it be great to learn new ways to get more done every day? Especially when you’re not feeling particularly inspired.
How you manage your time will be a deciding factor on how successful you are as an author. Some authors might waste countless hours checking emails and updating the color scheme of their website, where others will find the time to get their most important tasks done.
In this article, we’ll go over five things every writer can do to increase their productivity.
1) Create an Outline for Your Books
The first one seems obvious to those who do it, but a lot of writers don’t properly outline their books. I know that outlining a book is difficult, but it’s a great way to stay on track when writing.The better your plan is, the more effective your writing time will be.
Not needing to sit and think about what you’re going to write or where your story is headed will save you ample time every day. Instead, you can sit down and start writing, immediately. It’s like when you buy furniture from Ikea. Sure, you can try putting it together without the instructions, but it’ll take three times as long without those guidelines.
I’m not saying you have to have an outline. Even a rough write-up of what you want to happen in each scene or chapter will help you get words down faster in your writing blocks each day.
2) Get Advice from Other Self-Publishers
As self-publishers, we are in a fortunate position where we can learn from other successful authors for free. It may sound counterintuitive, but spending time away from your work and learning from others can help inspire you to become more productive–especially if the advice they’re offering is about productivity.
You can pick up a range of different tips on productivity and workflow management including:
- Blogs: Many successful self-publishing authors have their own blogs where they discuss the writing process.
- Podcasts and YouTube: If you’re time-poor and can’t read blogs, then you can get a lot of great advice from YouTuber channels or podcasts for authors. What I love about these mediums is the accessibility. I can listen to a podcast or the audio from a YouTube video while doing something else.
- Mastermind Groups: Masterminds are great. They’re a set time to chat with other authors in a similar situation to you. You work together to help solve one another’s problems and grow.
- Discussions With Other Authors: If you can’t commit to a set time, then make sure you have friends in the industry who you can bounce ideas off. Many other authors are in the same spot as you and would love someone to connect with.
Just remember, we are trying to be more productive here… so don’t get stuck down the rabbit hole reading blogs for hours. Actively search for information that will help you be more productive.
3) Exercise Regularly
A healthy writer is a productive writer. You won’t be surprised to know that being a self-published author isn’t exactly the healthiest job out there. It turns out sitting in front of a computer all day isn’t great for you.
In her book, The Healthy Writer, Joanna Penn discusses health and being an author, mentioning some common health problems that writers face and how to better look after yourself in this line of work.
So, being a writer, it’s incredibly important to focus on your health. That means you need to get active. Daily exercise can improve your mood, along with helping your focus and memory–all very important if you want to stay productive throughout your work day.
Don’t worry though, daily exercise doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous at the start. In only thirty minutes of daily exercise, you can do a lot of good. If you’re not at the stage where you can do that, start with five or ten minutes of workout. Every little bit helps.
4) Try the Pomodoro Method to Help Yourself Focus
Have you ever spent a day writing, but ended without much to show for it? With all the available distractions, it can be difficult to get words down on the page.
Instead, try blocking off specific periods of time to tackle specific parts of your book. Try to keep blocks of time down to around 25-minutes, as this follows a timekeeping strategy called the Pomodoro Method.
Basically, the Pomodoro Method comprises a 25-minute productivity sprint followed by a five-minute rest. Now, when I say a productivity sprint, I mean it–your sole focus for that 25-minute block is to write, write, write!
That means you don’t answer phone calls, check emails, make coffee or head to the bathroom– that’s what your break is for. Every four or so cycles, or when you feel your productivity level dropping, have a longer break of thirty minutes. As a general rule of thumb, take a longer break every hour.
There are plenty of great tools you can use to keep track of your time, many of which are specifically adjusted for Pomodoro timing. I don’t like to keep my phone next to me as I work because it can be a distraction, so I keep TomatoTimer open in the background.
By blocking out your writing time into Pomodoro-sized blocks, you’ll be able to work less and get more done. Start slowly though–you don’t want to burn out!
5) Create a Writing Routine
We all get the same 24-hours every day, it’s up to us on how we spend it. We all have various commitments and things that take time out of our day. Family, friends, hobbies, work and other commitments all take time away from writing, so you need to use your time wisely.
If you want to achieve as much as possible in your days, plan ahead. It is wise to plan your day the night before. Each night before you go to sleep, write a quick summary of what your day will look like tomorrow. You can do it in a notebook, diary, or even the calendar on your phone–you need to get your day planned so you wake up with a set routine.
If you don’t already plan your day, it’ll shock you how much more you’ll get done.. And sure, a lot of the time you won’t be able to completely follow your plan, but having a plan and changing it is a lot better than not having one at all.
Productivity is vital for being a successful author, now more than ever. Use these five strategies to get the most out of your day, and stay hopeful and healthy! Have fun with your writing and get those words down.
Dave Chesson is a book marketing obsessive who has consulted for various NYT Bestselling authors. He shares his latest ideas at Kindlepreneur.com, such as his recent guide to book writing software, and also hosts The Book Marketing Show podcast.