Looking for ways to improve your writing skills? I share 7 tips to making your writing time more productive PLUS 49 authors share what is currently working for them.
Here are my 7 tips to be even more productive during your writing time!
How to Improve Your Writing Skills
1) Schedule a specific time.
2) Set a goal.
3) Have everything ready…notes, pen/paper, earphones, music or background noise (simplynoise.com), snacks, water, comfortable clothes, etc
4) Start out with an outline. (find out more here: http://www.trainingauthors.com/tips-on-writing-a-book/)
5) Get accountability! Consider joining our monthly, “Productivity Party” as part of a Christian Book Academy membership.
6) Consider using the pomodoro technique (25 minutes write, 5 minutes break, after 4 pomodoros take a longer break of 20-30 minutes). http://pomodorotechnique.com/get-started/
7) Track your progress and celebrate any progress made. Download my excel spreadsheet to track your progress here.
BONUS: Don’t edit during this writing time. Simply write. The editing will come later and can be a distraction to making progress with your writing.
Need a boost to improve your writing skills? Click here to try my 7-day writing challenge here.
Update on our Group Writing Session
In the video, I talked about the first group writing session for Christian Book Academy members and I wanted to update you on how it went. First of all, I now have an official title and logo, yay! It’s called our monthly Productivity Party.
Wow, it went so well! Personally, I finished a little over 1500 words myself even with figuring this out the first time.
And I was excited for my AAA members who got writing done as well. Here are some of their results:
- First draft for next book, 2100 words
- All but one recipe completed for a cookbook plus the intro material
- Wrote two entire chapters and outlined another
- Planned out blog post for the next couple months, wrote one and published it, scheduled the social media for it and started on second blog post.
- Worked through the intro and first 2 chapters of my book. I don’t feel finished, but a great accomplishment since I hadn’t picked it up in weeks!
- Wrote a new chapter and a blog post. Woo hoo!
- Completed my blog post and even published it and I started the other one.
- And more.
Here are a few tweets I received after our group session:
I love, love, love seeing these results. We are definitely scheduling this monthly for Christian Book Academy members. Fun times indeed!
Strategies That Are WORKING for Authors Just Like You
I asked hundreds of authors that write all genres at a recent event to share with me their top strategies for getting more writing DONE and what they’ve done to improve their writing skills. There were some AH-mazing tips and so I decided to compile them and share them with you. Here are 49 of their responses. Hopefully, you can find a few you can relate to and apply to help you be more productive in your writing.
I decided to add my comments with the #HitzBlitz hashtag throughout.
“A regular writing schedule is utterly essential to my writing productivity. It allows me to rely on habit rather the inspiration to get my writing done. I’ve actually taken to calling my writing sessions “Non-negotiable Writing Time” and mark them in my calendar as such.” – Kevin
#HitzBlitz I completely agree Kevin! I recommend viewing them like an appointment with the doctor or meeting a friend for coffee. We had a group writing session yesterday with Christian Book Academy members and everyone got so much writing done. I call it our monthly “Productivity Party”!
“Scheduling writing time as if I would schedule a visit to a restaurant or something. And announce it to my family “tonight I’m going to write so I can’t do this or that”. And then write for a set period of time. Preferably without distractions, so writing in full-screen mode in Scrivener or setting a timer helps.” – Sophie
#HitzBlitz We used the Pomodoro technique in our group writing session yesterday (25 min writing, 5 min break) and it worked great Sofie. So a timer can definitely help. You just have to find what works best for YOU 🙂
“Writing sprints with writer friends online is a great tool to keep me on task. I have a group that I do 30 minutes with every morning to kick off the day.” – Christi
“It’s been very helpful to keep my work saved to the cloud so I can not only access it from my computer but also write from my phone if I have a few extra minutes waiting for an appointment or during a commute. It means ANY time can be writing time.” – Laurie
#HitzBlitz Great tip Laurie! I love taking advantage of those spare moments on my phone as well.
“I set the timers on my Win 10 for a period of time according to how distracted I am and focus for that specific period of time then take a break – if I am really distracted, just starting a few minutes will get me in the flow enough to continue. 1hr20 is my longest time and 15 minutes is my shortest. It ll depends what I am writing – blog post or book…” – Dave
#HitzBlitz Great Dave! And you’re finding what works for YOU which is the most important thing.
“I use pomodoro timer and bribe myself with sweets if I get x words done per day.” – Zara
#HitzBlitz Zara! I did that yesterday. After our “Productivity Party”, a group writing session, I treated myself to a small piece of fudge.
“My top writing strategies are to decide which character I feel needs the most work and at what point they are at in their life. To go over my characterization outline I have built for them and then give it some meditation to truly think about what they would do in the situation or place in life they need to work on.” – Lee
“I definitely struggle with this. I have so many distractions at home. So, right now I’m trying the 8-minute strategy. But a lot of times, I drive to a shopping center and park under the trees and write in my car.” – Shari
#HitzBlitz I LOVE that Shari! Whatever works, right?
“I write before doing anything else, while the house is quiet. I use the Pomodoro technique when writing and exercise in between to keep my energy levels up. Generally, I try to get a couple of hours in before real life takes over. I also use an Alphasmart for most of my writing to avoid the pull from social media.” – Ava
#HitzBlitz Exercise on your breaks is smart. There is a 7-minute workout I’ve been integrating as well.
“I started getting up earlier in the day and I use the 5000 Words Per Hour iOS app to time my writing sprints. Usually, I do three twenty-minute sprints a day and that gets me about 2000 words.
I also plot out in advance. I take notes on a project in my notebook and then I compile them by writing up a summary of the entire story in a Scrivener file. I then take that summary and break it up into scenes (one document in Scrivener per scene) and in the notes panel in the inspector window, I write out the major beats for the scene.
It’s helped the whole process go by a lot quicker. There’s not as much sitting and staring at the screen as there was when I was a pantser.” – Perry
#HitzBlitz Perry – you definitely have your rhythm! I have that app as well. It’s so important to track your writing whether with pen/paper, excel spreadsheet, or an app.
“I take notes all the time, everywhere. Hey, I write notes in a notebook while writing in my laptop (sometimes there’s no time to scroll). But as an exercise I tend to hear things, it could be anything on the streets, news, situations, and I’ll analyze them in an imaginary outline. I’ll think of motifs, possible backstories, possible outcomes. By doing this, the moment I sit down to develop a character, boom, my mental ways are all greased up.” – Carol
#HitzBlitz Great idea Carol! I use Evernote to capture ideas ALL the time and everywhere.
“My best strategies are planning what I’m doing ahead of time, using a timer to track how long things take – so I can streamline the process, and trying not to let problems slow me down – like sections that need more research. Although the last one is the hardest to keep.” – Sara
#HitzBlitz It’s easy to get stuck in certain spots, isn’t it Sara. Sounds like you are working to overcome it though!
“I’m learning to dictate! :)” – Stephanie
“Definitely dictation for me.” – Michael
#HitzBlitz I love using dictation as well, Stephanie and Michael. In fact, if you have a Mac there is a built-in dictation feature you can use. See my video here.
“Planning out on a storyboard, a regular writing time, and plenty of extra time to carry on!” – Carol-Ann
#HitzBlitz Planning out your storyboard is super smart Carol-Ann
“I get the most done when I settle into a pretty coffee shop. The background buzz keeps me in the zone.” – Sheila
#HitzBlitz Environment is HUGE Sheila! I like going to coffee shops too.
“I dictate my first drafts, often using a timer, and track it. I have a general outline and then do beats for each scene I’m working on so I know where I’m going, which allows me to dictate faster. I’ll also do it from anywhere, often while I’m cleaning the kitchen, so I can multi-task that way. And, for me, I REFUSE to edit while I’m writing. Talk about slowing down my process!” – Aaren
#HitzBlitz Yes, no editing while writing the first draft is a good way to go. It’s hard for me sometimes though!
“Pomodoro is a great system. I also use KanBan Flow if it is a project with other people involved.” – Chuck
#HitzBlitz I’ve also found the Pomodoro system to work great for my individual writing or our group writing sessions!
“This is a struggle for me as well. My desk and laptop are in the living room and there’s no other space for it. My husband works 7 days a week and has our only vehicle. I homeschool three teenagers.
In the midst of all of this, my best strategy is to create a playlist for whatever story I’m working on, plug in the overpriced Bose earbuds that were a gift from my father, and try to lose myself to the hyper-focus mode where nothing else exists but the music and the story. This translates well to the times I do have a chance to write at a coffee shop or with my local writers’ group.” – Lori
#HitzBlitz Sometimes you have to adapt with what you have, Lori! Love that you’re still writing in the midst of it all.
“Turning off email and writing to a timer (pomodoro technique).” – Cathy
#HitzBlitz Yes….turning off the internet (email, social media) and notifications is key for me too Cathy.
“I plan my book knowing my Why, what I’m writing about, research the topic and mind map my ideas, group those ideas and then start flowing with what I have planned out in front of me.” – Tunji
#HitzBlitz Great Tunji! I definitely love mind mapping
“Writing first – before other stuff. And word count. I set the word count goal on my Scrivener and can’t stop until after I reach it.” – Jax
#HitzBlitz Word count goals are great to keep me focused too Jax.
“Strategies that help me get writing done (and podcasting), is
1) A large mug of coffee smile emoticon,
2) Put my cell phone in another room and turn off notifications on my iPad and Mac,
3) Have a set amount of time blocked out,
4) Have a set goal, for example, I will write for x-amount of time or x-amount of pages or words.” – Tracy
#HitzBlitz Tracy – COFFEE!! Me too smile emoticon I need to go get my fresh brewed cup in the kitchen.
“I get the best first-draft writing done by camping out at McDonald’s. I don’t log in to their Wi-Fi, so I’m forced to write. I plug in my earbuds and get busy. Ahhhh, love those productive days!” – Diane
#HitzBlitz When are you scheduling another one of those days Diane? Sounds wonderfully productive!
“I get more productive by being antisocial … as in the Anti-Social software which allows you to pick which social media sites you would like to block for a set period of time (in 15-minute intervals up to 24 hours). My productivity has gone WAY up since I started setting limits on myself the same way I would one of my employees back at my old job. It’s by the same people who gave us Freedom, only Anti-Social allows you to still surf the internet for research and stuff, it only blocks the ‘fun’ sites. I use it to create the ‘reward’ of getting to talk to my peeps at my pre-set ‘lunch break.’ https://anti-social.cc/.” – Anna
#HitzBlitz Love it Anna!
“Do a better job at outlining the book and reduce the amount of content added after the outline is finalized.” – Ronald
#HitzBlitz Outlining helps me be so much more productive too Ronald!
“I work from home… so sending my toddler to school early in the morning gives me the only “free” 4 hours I can spend sitting in front of the screen. That’s motivation right there… But my husband works from home too… so THAT makes me take a “break” every 20 minutes or so. I think that with will, dedication, and love for the writer’s struggles, I can work with what I have and try to turn my daily events into structure to build upon.” – Carol
“I get more writing done if I do it first thing in the morning, before opening any other apps or email.” – Sandra
#HitzBlitz Sandra – it’s so good to find the time that works for YOU! For me, it varies but late morning tends to work well.
“Using the 5k wph app helps me focus the best to get the words done. I need the validation of seeing a graph.” – Shannon
#HitzBlitz Yes! Tracking our successes and celebrating every word helps so much.
“My writing time is from 8 to 2 p.m. on weekdays. When I write, I turn off my phone and put on sound-proof muffs so I’m not interrupted. For fiction, after I’ve written out my character descriptions and posted them on a board above my computer, I write scene-by-scene events, one on each index card, then rearrange them so they make sense, always building toward that great climax. I take 20-minute breaks every 1.5 hours to regenerate both body and mind. Oddly enough, I’ve had characters “speak” to me before, telling me they are not the antagonist and sometimes even revealing to me who is. Sounds insane, but another writer once told me the same thing. Last year I self-published a cookbook on Amazon titled 225 Scrumptious Christmas Recipes.” – Sherry
#HitzBlitz Love that Sherry!
“Quit reading books on writing as a substitute for writing. Write to the finish line and then go back to the writing books as a reference.” – Jeff
We can use so many things to procrastinate, can’t we, Jeff? Reading, researching, and even cleaning can keep us from writing. We can read and research for years and years but sometimes we simply need to sit in our chair and decide to write. Makes me think of a meme I created earlier this year for my book Procrastination to Publication 🙂
“Habit. Focus. Consistency. Writing, like brushing teeth needs to be a daily habit. Stay focused – don’t let the BSOs (Bright Shiny Objects) distract. Be consistent with your writing style – save experimentation for outside of normal writing time.” – Sharon
#HitzBlitz So true about the Bright Shiny Objects, Sharon!
“What works for me is writing when the kids are in bed. So no distractions, no internet either.” – Yoxani
#HitzBlitz Great Yoxani!
“1] Write a minimum 25 min BEFORE anything else in the AM.
2] Streak thru the 1st draft, stop for nothing, type RESEARCH into draft where more info is needed. Then go back and search these out to fill in info ONLY when 1st draft is complete.
3] LIMIT yourself to <1 hr of FB/24 hr.
4] Commit to learn Scrivener.
5] Try, try, try talk to text (Like Dragon especially 1st draft) Dictate directly into Scrivener!
6] Hire experts to help with covers, EDITING, formatting, launch activities. YOU keep writing and building product.
Love your books and continued attempts to make us better, Shelley.” – Jeff
#HitzBlitz Awesome list, Jeff! I own Scrivener but haven’t used it extensively yet. Someday. 🙂
“1. Feed everyone, walk the dogs, turn off phones & notifications.
2. Put a notice on the door/your forehead saying that interruptions will not be tolerated, with a list of what interruptions mean to you (Me? Don’t even offer me a cup of tea, I don’t want my concentration broken for any reason, even survival. Even the dogs know not to chance it when the keys are clicking.)
3. Decide not to write but to edit what you did yesterday. You won’t be able to help yourself change things and then get in the flow.” – Michelle
#HitzBlitz Great tips Michelle!
“Just plow ahead, not worrying about revisions, strong words, even grammar if it helps! Just get the words down as fast as you can. You can edit later. Nano is great for this method!” – Lena
#HitzBlitz So true Lena! Get the first draft out of your head and onto paper and then edit later.
“I use a technique that Darren Hardy recommends. He calls it a Jam Session. Basically, 90 minutes all to yourself: turn off the phone, close the door. Just you and your task (for us – writing) for 90 min at a time. Take 30 minutes to stretch, snack, whatever, then dive into another Jam Session. It can take you a few tries to achieve if you’ve never done it, but when it kicks in, you get so much accomplished!” – Scott
#HitzBlitz Love that Scott!
“I do things the old fashioned way – an A5 page a day diary, write out 5 tasks to complete and then tick them off each day. It always works for me and I love seeing all those ticks! Always writing in the morning and then marketing activities in the afternoon.” – Karen
#HitzBlitz That is awesome Karen! I love that you’re doing what works for you!! Keep it up.
“I recommend creating an outline and scheduling a day for each chapter or topic of your chapter depending on the length. When the day comes, do your research in the morning and after a few hours of digesting the information begin to write. Find a nice quiet place to write with a minimum word count goal. When you write, focus and just flow on your topic. Then after you are finished ensure that you met your daily word count goal. If not, take a break walk away to brainstorm more angles to write. I have not had the issue of too many words. My problem is cutting it down to be more succinct. Hope my writing practice helps.” – Kevin
#HitzBlitz Thanks for sharing Kevin!
“Scheduling time and fighting for it. I’m a stay at home mom of 2 and every other strategy doesn’t work. Also, I motivate myself with mental thoughts like “when I finish this chapter, I get chocolate.” I thrive on completion of a project, so small goals break up the long haul work of a novel.” – Emily
#HitzBlitz Love this Emily “scheduling time and fighting for it”. You go girl!
“Right now my top strategies are: give myself deadlines, try to be consistently writing each day, use the pomodoro method that I picked up from Monica’s book, and I use a basic beat sheet. I was first trained in and have the most experience in writing screenplays, so that method of beat sheets & outlining I learned was what I tried first with book writing. ” – Marx
#HitzBlitz Nice Marx!
“Lists. Everywhere. I need to see before me all that I have to do and organize. Once done, list comes off the desk. Sometimes at the end of the day I may even see the color of my desk.” – Anita
#HitzBlitz I love lists too, Anita.
“I realized if I set aside a day and worked on drafts of blog posts for 20 min at a time, I could get approx 20 drafts done in 6-8 hours including breaks. I need to get ahead. Even getting ideas down helps me not feel pressure and no staring at a blank screen, even if I end up going off in another direction.” – Amy
#HitzBlitz Wow, that is awesome Amy! Sounds like batching at its best. And I love batching, by the way. For those of you new to it, it’s simply doing the same type of task over and over in a block of time. I tend to record my podcasts like this. I get in a flow and then record a month’s worth at a time.
“I have two very young daughters, so finding time to write fluctuates with their activities and moods (e.g. Baby was sick the last two weeks, and I’ve barely gotten any writing done on my current novel WIP). That said, I’ve loved Monica Leonelle’s process and found the #8minutewritinghabit to be extremely valuable. even if I only get those 8 minutes in, it’s something!” – Megan
#HitzBlitz I’ll have to check out the 8-minute writing habit Megan. Yes, you have to do what you can do in this season of life!
“For me, it’s writing early in the morning before I do anything else. I also try to give myself time to write if I have an idea or inspiration even if it’s only for ten minutes. I’ve also trained myself to celebrate every word so that I don’t get hung up on word count. It all adds up!” – Stephanie
#HitzBlitz Love that Stephanie…celebrate every word. I was just talking about that yesterday.
“It’s seriously the only way I keep sane, Shelley! I was able to get 442 words in earlier this morning. A year ago I would have been upset with myself for not hitting 1000, and that may have gotten me off center where I didn’t write more in the day. Instead, I was proud of those words and ended up adding 644 to it. And, I’m writing more this afternoon. It’s all about perspective.” – Stephanie
#HitzBlitz Yay Stephanie! Love that perspective and your book will be finished sooner rather than later.
“I also have a star chart, like a kid, lol. (Borrowed off Joanna Penn) I get a star for good work that’s over a certain amount of time.” – Sara
#HitzBlitz Kind of like Jerry Seinfeld’s “Don’t Break the Chain” calendar but with stars and such. Cool Sara!
“One of the strategies that best works for me is “the art of not finishing” as I mention in my book. Which means…always, always know what you will write or work on next before you finish for the day. When you know what you will do next, it´s a lot easier to get started the next time. Never leave not being clear on exactly what you will do next.” -Lu
#HitzBlitz I agree Lu! Having a plan helps overcome writer’s block.
“I get a solid hour of writing during my commute to work on the Metra Train. No where to go!” – Robbin
“Mine is a life of interruptions – to get words down, I have a chapter synopsis (not long) hitting the high and low points, and leave my draft document open at all times.” – Krista
#HitzBlitz Great Krista!
“I wake up earlier and try not to judge whatever I’m writing. I have found that by actually sitting down to write (without planning first) I get more done and ideas start to flow faster as I type more and more. It’s kind of weird, whenever I plan in advance, I get nothing done.” – Sergio
#HitzBlitz Hey – you’ve got to use what works for you Sergio!
“I have no problem with writer’s block- just interruptions!! So have built an office in my workshop that is soundproof.” – Ken
#HitzBlitz Good point Ken! The issue is about interruptions not writer’s block. I think many of us can relate!
“I use EverNote and write while I’m doing other things. I simply use my mic on my iPhone and talk.” Tracy
#HitzBlitz I do that same thing Tracy! It works really well for me.
“I have a full-time day job and a 1-hour commute each way, so there’s only so much time I can squeeze out of the day. I just bought a used iPad on eBay – I’m going to voice-record notes on plot and editing while I drive, do research on my lunch break – all the stuff that takes time away from the actual sit-down-writing-time I need when I get home from work.” – Jenni
#HitzBlitz Great way to use the time you have Jenni!
“Jenni, once you get comfortable (and please check your laws), don’t be afraid to dictate your book while you drive either. If I have a hearing that’s 20 minutes or more away, I’ll check my beat sheet, put it away, then dictate while I’m driving. It’s harder to get used to, but when you do, boy can you get a lot of work done! I dictate around 3,500 WPH. Can you imagine the daily word count you could do?!?!” – Aaren
“I often find myself in a need to share my strong emotions right away with my neighbors, or friends, or even my co-workers. Because this is not always timing, or it is not safe to share it, or everyone might have their own things to deal with, I decided to share my feelings with my self on a paper. This is not a daily basis diary approach since I realized I want to re-create specific atrocious, hilarious and fanny situations from my life in the most precise way, with all the surrounding details and reasons that cause them and often I would use a lot of fascinating conclusions. Usually, I have a draft of a short story in 30 min. I realized that my primary need for sharing evolved into the desire of creating hilarious stories that would entertain often even myself afterwords.” – Kristina
#HitzBlitz That’s fascinating Kristina! Great way to work through your emotions and write!
“I think its best to speak the chapters out instead of writing them. Then I can send them of to get transcribed for little to nothing and then take my first draft from the transcribed copy. It’s quicker and I can write more books faster this way.” – Pareja
#HitzBlitz That’s how I wrote my book, “Procrastination to Publication”. It started as a one-hour audio that was transcribed and edited. Woot!
“Ordering a Do Not Disturb sign so that my husband quits walking into my new office. (I’m setting it up while I’m reading these wonderful posts.) And I’m setting up a new writing area–getting my laptop off my lap in my great room! Yay! Notebook on the desk to capture ideas. I could go on forever–including creating an OGSM (setting Objectives, Goals, Strategies and measurements. I am finally making an investment in me!” – Linda
#HitzBlitz I love that sign on the door Linda!
NEXT STEPS: Consider joining Writing Week, my FREE 7-day nonfiction writing challenge here.
Video Transcript on How to Improve Your Writing
I want to share with you these 7 tips on making your writing more productive.
Improve Your Writing Tip #1:
The first tip is to schedule a time to write. You want to give your writing time priority and schedule a block of time, just as you would schedule a doctor’s appointment or a meeting your friend for coffee. You want to have it on your calendar for a set time. It could be one hour, two hours, an afternoon, or an entire weekend. Choose whatever works best for you and schedule a time. Put it on your schedule and fight for your writing time.
For Christian Book Academy members, I schedule a monthly group writing session for that we call our “Productivity Party.” We meet together online and write using the Pomodoro technique (more on that later).
Improve Your Writing Tip #2:
The second tip is to set a goal. It doesn’t have to mean that you set a big goal. Sometimes you simply want to write a blog post, or you need to write an email in your autoresponder series. You don’t need to be working on a book. When you’re working on a book, I recommend that you set a goal.
What is a goal that is realistic for you?
If this is your first time setting a goal for a writing session, you may want to set a goal and re-evaluate the goal after your session is over. That way you’ll know better for next time.
You might say,
“I want to get one chapter in my book done,”
“I want to get one section in one chapter written,”
“I want to write the introduction to my book,”
“I want t ____________” Fill in the blank.
“I want to get this blog post done.”
“I want to write 1,000 words.”
You can make it very specific, or you can make it more project-oriented. Set a goal so you have a target to work towards.
Improve Your Writing Tip #3
The third tip is once you are ready to write, make sure to have everything ready.
You know what often happens? You sit down to write and then you think, “Oh, I’m thirsty. I need to go get my water,” or, “Oh, I’m kind of feeling hungry. I’m going to go get a snack,” or, “Oh, I don’t have my notebook, or my pen,” or, “I don’t have those notes, those research notes that I meant,” and then you go digging for those items and your writing time gets interrupted.
What I want this time to be for you is uninterrupted writing time. Don’t edit. You’re just writing. No editing, no going back, no looking up things or researching at this time. I want you to simply write the first draft.
Distractions kill your productivity so you want to do everything you can to eliminate your distractions.
These are some the things you want to have ready:
- Any notes that you have
- A pen and paper handy
- Have a few snacks ready
- Earphones, if you want to use music
Some people prefer music, or maybe they’re noise-canceling earphones. Music or background noise, there is a website called “simplynoise.com” and I just went to it. I’m not really one for the white noise, but then they also have one that’s rain. It’s “rain.simplynoise.com” you can play that in the background, whatever helps you, you can use that.
Then dress in comfortable clothes. If you’re fidgeting and you’re uncomfortable, then that’s going to distract you as well.
Improve Your Writing Tip #4:
The fourth tip is to start with an outline. When you start with an outline, you’re going to not have writer’s block as often because you know what you’re going to write about. It makes it so much easier.
I know there are some people really resist outlines. Even for those of you that are not super organized, and normally you don’t like to-do lists or lists of any kind or outlines of any kind, I still recommend an outline for you.
Let’s say you’re going to be writing chapter one tomorrow, outline that chapter and write out the 3 to 5 main points. Then underneath those main points, write out around 3 sub-points.
You can get as detailed as you want, but at least have a basic outline, because that way, when you sit down to write, you’re not looking at a blank screen. You have bullet points of what you can write about next.
If you need help with this, check out my blog post at shelleyhitz.com/outline and I go into much more detail on outlining and what you can do there.
Start with an outline, no matter what kind of personality you are. Your outline can be on sticky notes, it can be an outline on your whiteboard, it can just be something that you write out with markers and crayons, or it can be a very detailed outline on mind-mapping software. Whatever your personality, go with it. Start with an outline. It’s going to help you be so much more productive. You’re going to get so much more done, and I think you’ll really be surprised.
Improve Your Writing Tip #5:
Tip number 5 is to get accountability and this can happen in many different ways. For our Christian Book Academy members, we meet monthly for a group writing accountability session called, “Productivity Party.” We share our goals and what we’re planning to get done. That’s a form of accountability in and of itself. Then in the forums, I also have a writing accountability forum, where people can get accountability there.
For you, it can even be public accountability like on Facebook say, “Hey, I’m going off Facebook for 2 hours to write.” If you post something on Facebook or if you comment on something, they’re like, “I thought you were supposed to be writing?”
You can have an accountability partner. Maybe that person is not an author, but maybe they want to exercise regularly, or maybe there’s something else that they need accountability with. You guys can keep each other accountable. Accountability can be really helpful. You want to have it to be encouraging and that’s what I’m going to focus on with our writing group tomorrow.
Improve Your Writing Tip 6:
Tip number 6 is to consider using the Pomodoro technique. Have you heard of it? You can find a getting started tutorial here: pomodorotechnique.com/get-started.
Basically, what you do in this technique is you set a goal and then you focus on that goal for 25 minutes. When you set a writing goal and you’ve already scheduled your time, you’ve gathered all your stuff, you have an outline, you have accountability, so now you’re ready to get started. You write for 25 minutes and set a timer. You can find online timers for free, use a kitchen timer, or the timer on your phone. When I meet with my Christian Book Academy members, I have a timer on the screen. That way, we’re all on the same page.
Set a timer for 25 minutes and really focus. Focus your brain; turn off all your other notifications. Turn off your phone, turn off everything else and focus on that one thing. You do that for 25 minutes and then when that 25 minutes is up, no matter where you’re at, stop for a 5-minute break. Get up, stretch, get the blood flowing, get a snack. Do something that is different than writing and take a break.
That’s the Pomodoro Technique. It’s powerful when you tell your brain, “Okay, I’m giving you one assignment for the next 25 minutes: to write.” It’s similar to time-boxing. Because you already have an outline and you’ve prepared in advance, you’re not sitting there with writer’s block. You already know the basics of what you’re going to write about which allows you to simply start writing.
If the inspiration doesn’t come for a specific chapter, switch to another chapter or to another blog post or something else, but keep writing.
It’s like when you do sprints. You sprint and then you stop and you catch your breath. Then you sprint and you catch your breath. These focused periods of time help you to get more accomplished.
It’s something to try. It’s not for everyone; I’m not going to say it’s going to work for every single person. Some people are super creative and need to have flexibility with their writing time.
Improve Your Writing Tip #7:
Then the 7th tip for just being even more productive during your writing time is to track your progress, so know where you started and where you stopped. That way, you know how many words you wrote that day.
Celebrate any progress you made.
Don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t meet your certain goal. Don’t get down on yourself, but celebrate.
Celebrate the progress that you made, whether it was 2 paragraphs or 2,000 words, celebrate. The more you get in the habit of writing, and the more that it feels like a reward, and you’re getting positive feelings from your writing time, the more you’re going to want to do it.
If you beat yourself up and have self-doubt, it’s going to create a negative emotion, and then it’s going to make you feel like you don’t want to write again.
However, if you celebrate and have a small reward for yourself, (dark chocolate maybe, coffee, etc.) it’s going to help you end on a positive note.
The most important thing to getting your message to more people, is to get it out of your head and on to paper. That is a critical step. During this time, again, don’t edit it. Don’t go back, don’t let these distractions come in, just write. The editing will come later, the proofreading will come later. The deeper research will come later. Make this time be about writing.
I am so thankful that I have people in my life that encourage and support me to continue to take the next step. I am now encouraging and supporting you to take the next step in what you need to do and in your writing.
Take these 7 tips, apply them, and then let me know how it goes. Tweet me @shelleyhitz, I’d love to hear how you’re doing with this and how it’s working for you.
Want some extra help? Join my FREE 7-day writing challenge here.
What Strategies Do You Use to Improve Your Writing?
Share the tips and strategies that work for you in the comments below!