5 Tips for Productive Writing

When you’re freelancing, your income directly relates to the amount of time you can spend banging away on your keyboard. That makes time management a particularly important skill for any writer. These tips can help you make the most of the time you can spend working.

  1. Set clear priorities: If you can narrow your work load down to three specific things you need to do today — like write interview questions, finish an article and pitch a story idea to an editor — you’ll usually be able to get those things done. It’s okay if those three tasks seem fairly minor, even if you’re freelancing full-time. You can always work on the rest of your task list once you’re done with those three items, but you’ll be sure that you’ve accomplished the most important things in your day today.
  2. Have a work buddy: Because most of us work at home, by ourselves, it can be hard to stay on track. After all, there’s no boss breathing down our necks. Having a work buddy — someone who can hold you accountable for what you accomplish each day — can be enough to help stay focused on your work while no one else is around.
  3. Work in blocks of time: I tend to work for an hour and then do something else, if only for five minutes. If I’m really in the zone, I might work longer, but if I’m struggling, just getting up and moving around can get my brain working again.
  4. Know your own schedule: Are you one of those writers who does best when you first get out of bed? If that’s the case, it’s well worth your while to shift around the rest of your schedule so that you can write when you’re at the top of your game. That may mean getting up a little earlier or a little later, or even recording your favorite TV show, but during the time you write best, you’re typically more productive. That means that shifting your schedule may mean more free time in the long run.
  5. Take time away from the computer: Time may be money, but we’re also working in a field that requires a lot of creativity. The law of diminishing returns will kick in eventually — if you write for hours on end, the work you do as you get tired just won’t be as good as the work you do when you’re fresh.

10 Comments

  1. Sam   •  

    I always head out to a cafe or head to the library when my brain’s stuck. And it keeps any family distractions out. Great post!

  2. Nora   •  

    Great tips, Thursday! I’ve been struggling with the concept of productivity lately, and I can use this sage reminder.
    I’m also toying with the concept that we (meaning “I”) spend too much time doing things that are important but that don’t directly translate to dollars – eg social media and answering emails. I wonder if we actually give ourselves LESS time to work, if we become more productive as a result. As such, I’m looking at fitting my 5-day workweek into 3 days. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  3. thursday   •     Author

    @Sam, A change of scenery can do wonders! I’ve even found that something as simple as changing rooms can get me back to work some days.

    @Nora, I definitely am in the same boat. I’m trying to get emails and other non-writing tasks into a two-hour block every day. Some days it works, others not so much, but I think reducing those sorts of tasks definitely ups not only the amount of writing I can do but also the quality.

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