When we want to write, it’s all too easy to just open the computer and start tapping away – or maybe not. But if you’ve been struggling to make your writing time productive, these five tips may help you move from frustrated to phenomenal in a few simple steps.
1. Get into a creative mindset
If you find that it takes you a long time to get going with your writing, and that you tend to procrastinate for most of the time, you may benefit from taking some time to get into the right mindset before you begin writing.
To do this, take a moment to focus on why you are writing your book. If you have one, read your book plan. Remember what you are going to achieve with your book and allow yourself to get excited about this project again. If you are not a confident writer, reinforce to yourself your ability to write this book.
Take a moment to be still, to let the stresses of your day or other work melt away. When you are feeling centred, excited and confident begin writing. Note any differences and keep working on your preparations to write until they are working well for you.
A book plan with a clear chapter structure and main headings in place make any writing project much easier to complete. If you don’t have a book plan, create one before you go any further. Set a word target for each chapter so you know how much you want to write – this will ensure you don’t end up with a book that gets too long or ends up too short.
With a plan in place, you can sit down to write and choose which part of your book you are going to write. You don’t have to write it consecutively, you can choose a chapter or section of a chapter you feel motivated to write. If you are tired or want to have an easier writing session, you can write a section that you feel particularly confident about.
If you have a more difficult section to write, you can write it when you are feeling fresher or after you have done any additional research you need to do.
Being clear on what you are going to say will make your writing session far more productive because you will be able to focus on specific parts of your book rather than haphazardly writing bits here and there. It will make you feel far more positive if you know where you are with your book rather than jabbing away at it randomly.
3. Set a word target
Writing your book is a job and one you can plan and get done in an organised way. Along with your book plan, your word targets will make getting the writing done far easier. Apart from anything else, you can plan the number of words you want to write each day and know when you have met that target. This is very motivating and will allow you to see progress each time you set out to write your book.
Set a word target for each chapter and, if possible, for each main heading. Again, this setting of targets will ensure you do not over- or under-write and it will prevent your book getting out of control.
4. Set a time limit
Writing, like many creative tasks, is often best completed in small and distinct periods. If you are struggling to sit down to write for a long period and find you get easily distracted, you may benefit from setting short writing sessions of just 20-30 minutes.
By setting these short work periods, you are more likely to actually write. It’s far easier to work on something in short bursts than long sessions. Sitting down to write for three or four hours is daunting. Setting yourself three 20 or 30 minute sessions with short 5-10 minute breaks between them will help you get more done – far better than resisting a multi-hour writing session!
If you are tired or short of time, you can set yourself a 20-minute writing session and move your book forward rather than keep putting it off because you don’t have hours to write. Short, productive sessions will move you forward much faster than longer sessions that you never actually do.
5. Set your next target when you’re finished
Sometimes we have good writing sessions and sometimes not. Sometimes our deadlines move and other work becomes urgent or becomes unpredictable. By setting your target for your next writing session, you can take into account what else is going on for you.
This is important because if you start to go through challenges elsewhere in your business or life while you are writing your book, you will become discouraged and demoralised if you do not meet your original writing schedule.
Equally, if you are moving ahead and have a lot of momentum, you can set a more challenging schedule that fits your energy and progress. This will ensure that your original schedule does not hold you back.
Each time you sit down to write, assess your schedule and set your next target and you’ll ensure that your project keeps moving forward regardless of whatever else is going on for you.
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