Sometimes you have a heavy writing load and need to crank out a lot of copy. This idea is especially true for freelance writers. It’s often feast or famine in freelancing, and you’re afraid to tell anyone “no” when good assignments are available. The next thing you know, you’ve taken a lot of work, and you’re slammed and trying to figure out how to write more.
But a busy writing schedule doesn’t mean you have to sit at your computer 24/7. In fact, I can’t. I’ve determined that if I work too long on any given day, my brain is tired, and it takes me twice (or more) as long to complete any task. Not only that, but I think everything I write sucks, and I’m a terrible writer, both of which are false. It’s amazing what our minds tell us when we’re weary.
In this post, I’ll give you my best advice on how to write more without spending more time in front of your computer.
Writing More Without Spending More Time
Ready to spend your writing time productively? I’ve got some tips for you on how to write more without spending more time in front of your computer.
Schedule Your Writing Time
Writing time won’t just appear in your schedule. If you have things to write, you have to schedule the time to write them. Once you decide when you’re going to write, block the time on your calendar. I recommend putting a couple of hours on your calendar for each piece you need to write because writing in little blocks of time isn’t productive at all. Once you put writing time on your schedule, guard that time. Treat it like an appointment with someone else, and don’t schedule over it. Ruthlessly defend your writing time.
Choose Your Best Time
Scheduling your writing time is essential, but planning it at the right time for you also is key. For example, I know I’m more creative and focused first thing in the morning. So, I try to block off my writing time in the mornings while I drink my coffee. I can do tons of low-level activities that take less energy in the afternoon, but I know myself well enough to know that my writing will take twice as long then.
So, getting a lot of writing done isn’t just about scheduling your writing time. It’s about scheduling the time when you know you’ll get the most done.
Treat Writing Separately
Writing time isn’t planning time. Writing time isn’t research time. Writing time is when you put the words on the screen.
To make the most of your scheduled writing time, you must be prepared to write when you sit down at your computer. Do all (or at least most) of the legwork before your scheduled writing time. Choose your topic in advance. Write your outline ahead of time. Look up a quote or find a link during little blocks of time throughout your day. That way, when it’s time to write, that’s all you’re focused on the craft of writing, not going down some internet research rabbit hole.
Want to be super effective at researching, writing, and publishing? These tech writing tools will help.
It doesn’t do you any good to schedule your writing time if you’re going to spend the entire time distracted by rings, bings, and dings. You can’t focus on writing if you’re checking email, surfing online, and responding to Slack messages. Everything you try to write will take at least twice as long under these conditions.
You’ll never truly understand how to write more until you’re able to eliminate distractions.
Some writers I know use apps that keep them from going online during writing time. These apps don’t work for me because I often need to do quick research online while I write, but they do work for a lot of people.
Options for writing apps that can keep you focused include:
- Freedom. This app is the one I hear about most. Freedom allows you to block websites and apps that may distract you while you write. You can also create customized writing schedules on it.
- Cold Turkey Writer. Cold Turkey Writer is a free app that offers a distraction-free writing environment. It allows you to block out everything on your computer except for your writing window.
- OmmWriter. OmmWriter is a paid app that offers a peaceful writing environment with soothing sounds and customizable backgrounds. I could do without the sounds, but I love that it offers various fonts and colors to keep writing fun.
- Typora. Typora is a free app that provides a clean, minimalist writing environment focusing on markdown formatting. It allows you to customize the font, color, and layout to fit your preferences.
I’d try a free version of an app first if you think it might help you. For me, I know that I only have so much time to write. As soon as I get into the flow, I work hard not to break it.
Speaking of flow… When you’re in a flow state, keep writing.
When the ideas are coming, I don’t stop until the ideas stop because that train doesn’t come along all the time.”Dr. Dre
Yes, I just quoted Dr. Dre. Don’t judge me. Honestly, why aren’t you quoting Dr. Dre more?
That flow thing is real! When my writing is flowing, I do my best to keep writing as long as I can. You never know when writing will be painful again. Keep that good work going!
When the words pour onto the screen, you’re in a flow state. Flow is when you’re so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter, according to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the psychologist who discovered the concept. Recognize when writing is flowing, and write as much as possible during those times.
You know, sometimes you just don’t feel like writing. We all have those days and times. That’s probably why so many of us are banging out content on deadline.
You can make a lot of excuses for why you can’t write during your scheduled writing time, including my favorite excuse (read: sarcasm), writer’s block. But that’s exactly what they are — excuses.
Writing is your work. You don’t get to work only when you feel like it. If that were the case, they would call it something different.
This leads me to my next point…
The best way to write is to put your ass in the chair, your fingers on the keyboard, and write. Some days it will be difficult. On other days it won’t. But the only way you can make the most productive use of your writing time is to do the damn thing.
How Do You Make the Most of Your Writing Time?
I use the advice I provided here to make the most of my writing time, but I don’t pretend to be the expert. There certainly are days when I need to do more writing than I get done. And there are days when I don’t want to write and have to force it. What’s your advice? How do you make the most of your writing time? Do you have tips or tricks that I didn’t mention here? If so, please drop them in the comments below. I’d love for us to learn from you too!