Writing is an excellent skill to learn, and it’s easier than you think. Some people think you need a degree or certificate to be a writer, but that’s never the case. Anyone can be a great writer, and a more efficient one as well. Learning how to be a more productive writer will boost your productivity and improve your habits. That will be the topic of this post when it comes to improving your writing skills.
Why is it important to be productive in writing?
It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional writer or manage a business- writing efficiently helps you get more done. If you happen to be a freelance writer or someone who writes regularly for a company, you can create a lot of great content in a short period of time.
It’s also great to mention the psychological benefits of writing. I won’t go over them in detail here, but this post is a great article to read.
For the remainder of this post, I will lay out some practical tips to help you be a more productive writer. As a professional, following these tips will help you write faster and accomplish more.
Engage in “free writing”
You may have heard of the concept “free writing”, or maybe not. Free writing is a great practice when you’re having trouble getting started with writing assignments.
Basically, free writing works as follows:
Take a pen and paper and write whatever comes to mind when you’re having trouble writing a draft or post. It doesn’t matter if they are random thoughts or ideas popping into your head. Just write them down.
It helps a lot when you’re struggling with what to write about. Most certainly, it helps over something called writer’s block, which is very common for some writers.
For me, it helps me when I’m not sure what to write about. Or if it’s something else that I’m worried about, I’ll use my “worrying” time to write down thoughts that are running around my mind. In a way, it helps reduce overwhelmed thinking.
Write an outline
This one helps me out so much prior to writing an initial draft.While doing initial research, I’ll put together an outline of things I may want to mention in an article.
It doesn’t matter what particular format you write in- as long as it’s simple and easy to understand. Even a basic outline will work for your writing needs. Below is an example of what my typical outline looks like prior to writing an article.
Just write only: Edit later
One of the best ways to write faster is just start writing, and nothing else. Don’t worry about editing yet, get to the writing component first before you start editing and revising.
One approach I learned from a teacher is to “write without stopping at all”. For example, you can write non-stop without stopping to edit or make corrections. If that happens to be for 15 minutes (or a half hour), you will be amazed to see how much writing you’ll pump out.
I found that it slows me down if I write and edit at the same time. I used to be obsessed about that early on, but now I’ve gotten better using the “write only” approach. All I do is write what I have in mind, or I’ll go off my outline/notes to refer to.
I challenge you to try it out one time. Again, you may be amazed to see how much you can do when writing an article under a one hour period.
Write in mini-sessions
Over time, I find it’s best to write in mini-sessions rather than doing long sessions. For example, writing under an hour is helpful for a lot of people.
But if you write for a few hours straight (non-stop), it might make you tired and weary sometimes. So doing it in shorter sessions is better for my energy levels, and better for my overall productivity.
What I do: Use the Pomodoro technique
Using the Pomodoro technique helps me out a lot. I’ve written about it before, but here’s how it works in a nutshell:
You work in 25-minute periods, followed by taking brief five-minute breaks. You try this a few times (about 4 pomodori), and then you take a longer 15-30 minute break.
This method has worked out very well for me. If you try it out, you’ll likely get a lot more done in a short period of time. It’s likely you’ll be able to knock out a long article in two hours maximum.
Block out/minimize distractions
When sitting down to write, make sure you have very few or no distractions if possible. It helps you stay focused, while avoiding the possibility of multitasking.
To maximize your efforts at it, here’s what to put on the side:
- Put your phone on silence, or have it on “Do Not Disturb” mode if possible
- Turn off any notifications on your computer (i.e. email)
- Do NOT turn to social media < Avoid it if possible
When it’s time for me to write, I have nothing out except my notes, the computer I’m working on, and maybe a pen and paper to write things down. Having a few things at my workstation sure does help me maximize my effort to stay focused.
If you want to take an extra step further, I encourage you to get a distraction app. Getting an app that can help you block out distractions may benefit as well.
I mentioned using something called the Freedom App. I won’t go over it in detail, but here is a review I did on the app last year. I think you might find it useful.
Find a dedicated spot to write
Having a dedicated workspace to do all of your focus work can help you stay in the zone. If there’s a particular place you’re familiar with (and it’s mostly distraction free), make the most out of that spot.
I find that having one spot to work at is nice; however, having two or three spaces to go can be a bonus. For example, I like switching it up throughout my day. I have a desk that I sit at for a few hours a day, and then I’ll move to a standing desk during another time of day.
It works out nicely so that I can take turns sitting and standing, and it’s better for my health overall. It helps me to stay creative while I work on tasks that require a little more scrutiny.
Figure out your best time of day to write
This one is good to understand so that you know which part of your day is more productive than others. If your peak period takes place during the morning hours, then look at getting it done during that time.
For me, I usually work the best between the late morning-early afternoon hours (i.e. 10AM-3PM). If I can crank out any writing assignments in a quicker time frame, it will take place most likely during that time frame.
Prioritize your tasks
While understanding what time of the day works best for you, it’s good to prioritize which assignments need more attention. Or ask yourself: Which assignment may take longer?
For example, if there’s one writing assignment that may take longer and it’s due very soon, focus on that one first. For me, I’ll work on an article that will take longer, but I’ll start on it earlier. If it’s due in a few days, I’ll start writing portions of it rather than trying to finish it all at once.
Hold yourself accountable
Sometimes, it’s best to find an accountability partner while you write. If you write regularly, make sure to keep up with your daily/weekly commitments.
But if you struggle sometimes, an accountability partner can help you stay on track. You might end up falling short sometimes, so finding someone to check in with you is a good step forward.
When it comes to who that person should be, it can be anyone you know. If it’s a close friend of yours, a colleague, or someone who you consider to be a good mentor. It doesn’t matter who they are, as long as they keep you moving forward.
Set a regular writing schedule
Writing regularly can help you stay motivated along with writing quicker. If you can stick to a schedule, it can help you stay organized and a lot more productive.
For example, I usually write at least three articles every week (sometimes, I’ll write up to four articles). Regarding how much I publish to this website, I’ll publish two posts a week to make them available on the internet.
Some people I know write five days a week, and they have great habits to help them stick to that type of commitment. Kudos to them!
It may not be easy, but it can pay off later on. If you stick with it long enough, you might be encouraged to write more often. I know it’s something I continue to work on as I stick to my current schedule.
Learning to become a more productive writer can help you not only go faster, but be far more effective at it. Writing is not rocket science for sure, neither do you need some fancy certificate proving you’re an expert at it.
Anyone (business owner, author, freelancer, student) can write efficiently and master the skill over time. The tips mentioned earlier can be very useful for anyone wanting to write faster. At the same time, you can still do an effective job at it.
As I discussed earlier, having a basic outline can help guide you in becoming a better writer. As a way to say thank you for reading, please find a copy of an outline below that I follow when I am preparing to write. It’s a great way to organize your ideas before writing out a draft of any kind.
Your Turn: What do you do to become a better writer?
I would like to know your thoughts on how you approach writing. Do you write much slower because you write and edit at the same time? Do you mind going blank when writing a draft (i.e. writer’s block)?
Which of the tips do you use? If not, which ones do you think you’ll try out? What do you do to be more productive while writing?
Feel free to leave your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your responses, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.
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Eric is the owner and chief editor of notimekillers.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. Eric is a firm believer in financial and time freedom, as he believes in financial independence and taking ownership of your time. “Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can also connect with Eric via LinkedIn.