I’m nearly finished writing my fifth book, but I quickly discovered one thing has remained consistent with every title I’ve penned: the pull of distractions, threatening to hamper my work.
I’ve had to exercise intentional practices to help me maintain momentum. And through dedication and determination, I’ve discovered the following 10 powerful ways to increase your writing productivity.
- Schedule writing as an event on your calendar. If it’s a priority, formalize your intent by putting it in black and white with a time stamp.
- Prepare in advance. The evening before, fix energizing food and drink that will provide convenient and easy sustenance. Lay out comfortable clothes to help you get right to work. Make sure all of your tools are organized and ready. Then get a good night’s rest. (I use a touch of lavender essential oil to help me sleep deeply.)
- Keep your word. Often, we are mindful to keep our promises to others, but don’t think anything of breaking the vows we make to ourselves. When you tell yourself you are going to write — just do it!
- Create your own writer’s cave. When I started out, this was a very specific place in my house. For me, the word cave fit, because my writing room was first located in a basement bedroom. There were no windows, it felt isolated, and frankly, I had to force myself to stay in what often felt like a dungeon. But by practicing discipline, I learned something important — I can write anywhere.
- Clearly communicate writing rules to family and close friends. When I started writing passionately, my loving peeps did not consider it a serious endeavor. To some, working from home meant I was available for them to pop in for extended visits, to call or text about random things, or to pressure me to participate in endeavors I had neither the time or inclination for. Didn’t they know I needed to write? I fought frustration until I remembered a rule I had incorporated for my business coaching. So, I told family and friends that when I closed the door to my office or posted cave-dwelling on social media, that this was a Do Not Disturb symbol. I asked my peeps not to bother me, unless it was important enough that they would call me out of a meeting 500 miles away. It took a couple of weeks for training, but now it works beautifully.
- Protect your writing time fiercely. Beware of interruptions — especially from yourself. I love the J.K. Rowling quote above, but I would have to add, sometimes the endless requests come from an internal voice. Guard yourself against distraction through unnecessary activities like television, social media, or scrubbing the toilet.
- Turn off the tube. This may sound silly and simple, but how many of us have lost volumes of time to mindless television shows. If it isn’t feeding what you are writing about, flip the switch to off.
- Get up and move on a regular basis. I do one-minute intervals at least hourly when writing. Running in place, jumping jacks, leg kicks, and air boxing all keep my blood pumping and my mind working.
- Don’t fall prey to overwhelm. Break your work into chunk-sized fragments. Instead of focusing on the entire chapter you need to write, just set a goal to write the next paragraph. If a whole paragraph still throws you into a tailspin, pen your next sentence.
- Enjoy the experience. Remind yourself of that younger version of you who dreamed of this opportunity. Most people never get to mark this off their bucket list. Relish these moments — they’re what you were made for.
How do you protect your productivity?