We've all been there. You've been telling yourself that you'll write that evening, but then your partner suggests going out to a meal, or it's family movie night, or your cat needs to be taken to the vet and, before you know it, it's bedtime. In this post, I want to share some productivity tips that have helped me stay productive and write two books in a very short amount of time.
Treat your writing like a business
This tip is one that I take extremely seriously. In order to boost your productivity, you need to see your writing as your career, even if you're working full-time somewhere else. Take your writing very seriously. You wouldn't miss a scheduled work meeting, would you? Have that same mainframe when it comes to writing time.
This goes for social media, or platform building as well. If your end goal is to publish your books and eventually become a full-time writer, you also need to build a platform and social media for yourself, and this should also be taken seriously. By seriously I mean do the extra work, don't just post when you feel like it, stick to a content plan. Reach out to book boxes and press or book influencers and get your book seen by as many people as possible, as well as make loyal connections who will be able to spur you on and even help you in the future.
Stick to a routine
I find that it becomes easier to do anything when you've built a routine for yourself to stick to. Pick a time in the morning, day or evening to write for an hour or two and stick to it. Even if you don't feel like it, at that time try and write something. For the first few weeks, you may find that you sit down to write at that time and barely write 100 words, but in time it will start to get easier.
Hold yourself accountable
Holding yourself accountable is a great booster to start prioritising your productivity. Don't blame the TV for showcasing your favourite show at writing time, or your children for being too distracting. You're in charge of your own writing time and limiting distractions. For example, if your children or partner are too loud, invest in earbuds or play music.
To start holding yourself accountable, adjust your attitude and remember that long-lasting change comes from long-term effort and that there will be bumps and snags along the way which are part of the process, not an end to the process.
Turn off or hide distractions
You may know that when I choose to write I put my phone on silent and literally bury it in my partner's sock drawer because who would want to go near there?! In all seriousness, you should eliminate as many distractions around you as you can. If you're known to browse on your phone often, do as I do and hide it! Or, if your dog keeps getting in the way, ask your partner or family to look after them or take them for a walk, or simply let them roam in the back garden. It's up to you to figure out what distractions you regularly face and eliminate them.
Track your word count and set goals
The next point I highly recommend doing is track your word count and set yourself goals. Let me split these out. Tracking your word count is great for boosting your productivity and word count is the best metric to track, rather than chapters, paragraphs, etc, as it allows for progressive growth and your goals will be realistic.
Setting yourself goals helps your productivity as you'll be trying to reach these goals each day. When setting goals, make sure that they are realistic and achievable. In other words, don't set yourself a goal to finish a chapter in a day, as most just won't find that possible or the content won't be as good as you'd like it to be. A good 60-minute word count goal is anywhere between 500 words to 2000 words.
Find a comfortable place to write
How are you going to be able to write if the chair you're sitting in makes your back bend over awkwardly and you keep having to move every 5 minutes? Chances are, it would be very difficult to do so. Find a comfortable spot to write in whether it's outside on a bench, at a coffee shop, in a special chair at your home or somewhere else.
Not only should your spot be comfortable, but it should also be clean. A clean work desk allows for clear thinking, whereas a messy work desk can make you feel just as stressed as I'm sure your 3-day old tea does.
Create an outline
One thing that really makes me feel stuck is when I don't know where my plot is going. I'll be motivated to write but, when I sit down to write, I just won't know what to do next and I absolutely hate this feeling. Creating an outline has really helped me to eliminate this problem. Some writers choose to outline their chapters to ensure that they know exactly what to write, which is definitely great for hardcore plotters. I find that I sit in-between a plotter and a pantser so, although I plot using the Save the Cat method, I don't go into chapter by chapter outlines as I find that sometimes it works best for me when I let the chapter go with the flow.
Don't put too much pressure on yourself
The final and most important point is to not put too much pressure on yourself. Writing can be incredibly stressful at times, which is why it's so important to prioritise your mental health. If you miss a few days of writing that's completely okay and even encouraged. Taking regular breaks and time away from writing can help your brain relax and is beneficially for when you go to write again. Ultimately, just try your best and if you miss a goal or writing time it's totally not the end of the world. Please be kind to yourself.