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5 Writing Habits to Improve Productivity

December 11, 2018 (Last Updated March 27, 2023)

Marcy G.

Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Unfortunately, in practice, writing can seem like a laborious task. Here are some simple ways to get your productivity in check:


Set Deadlines and Goals

When you are starting a new project, have a game plan to meet certain goals in your progress.  Have a number of pages or chapters in mind for the day, week, or month, etc. This will help prioritize your writing schedule and give you accountability for staying on top of your book.  Even if you don’t always meet these benchmarks, you will at least have a clearer idea of where you’re at in your progress. Shorter deadlines and goals may be more encouraging and effective than long-term ones, simply because you don’t have to wait to feel a larger sense of accomplishment in your progress. Small wins!


Get Organized

Schedule: Going along with deadlines and goals, schedule blocks of time reserved for writing. This is especially important if writing is not your full-time job.  Everyone has outside responsibilities that can encroach on their writing. By sticking to a schedule, you will always have that time reserved exclusively for writing. 


Outlines: If you need some help with organization or haven’t fully worked out certain parts of your book, outlines are a great way to categorize characters and plot points or organize paragraphs.  Referring to these outlines will prevent you from getting stuck when you go to sit down and write. 


Routine: It’s proven that people are more productive when they get an early start in the morning, but this isn’t true for everyone. It may take some time to establish a routine that works for you. The time of day is just as essential as your environment. If you’re writing at home, curate a space that you can feel comfortable and successful in. Maybe you enjoy going somewhere public for a different kind of atmosphere. Try out multiple spaces and take note of where you have been productive when settling on a routine.


Free Write

Freewriting is a prewriting technique of writing continuously without regard to proper spelling, grammar, or topic. You can choose to take an idea or scenario from your book or stray completely. The point is to prevent writer’s block, self-criticism, or lack of writing motivation. Even if the material is unusable, it may spark new ideas. If you need help getting started, look at different writing prompts online to follow or simply write whatever is on your mind as a stream of consciousness.


Take Breaks

When you’re writing, it’s important to avoid time-wasting websites or anything else that is taking over your attention. If you feel like you’ve hit some roadblocks, take a break. Read something completely different from what you’re working on, watch a mindless TV show, or go for a walk. Simply introducing a morning or mid-day walk can help get your blood flowing, increasing the oxygen to your brain.  Your mind needs tools to perform too.  Walking will help stimulate brain activity, putting you in a better position to focus and be creative.


Edit Later

Don’t feel a sense of urgency to polish your writing as you go. If you find yourself fussing over the same three paragraphs for a long time, make a note and revisit it later. First drafts are all about getting the story down before tackling the small details.


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