10 Ideas to Increase Writing Efficiency
“The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.” — Neil Gaiman
I am a huge Neil Gaiman fan, so I believe his simplistic outlook would be the only ‘rule’ to writing that I can relate to. However, it does not help me much in terms of being efficient.
Productivity is the greatest daily goal of a writer, when achieved it can immediately be interpreted as success. When I started writing I found so many things were hindering my writing, and most of the tasks I believed I carried out to be more productive.
I drew up this list to maximize productivity to ensure that you can take what works for you and cut the hours I wasted away when I started out. I trust these will be helpful to you.
I have never been one to do routine exercise, actually I think the only disciplined sport I’ve ever done was paragliding and Mother Nature arranged those flights according to her schedule. So when I started out with writing I was feeling rather disillusioned in a way because somehow my computer had become the key-holder of my confinement.
What I soon found is that doing my 15-20 min yoga exercise routine is more than ample to get my head cleared, my gratuity for life peaked, and I feel energized and ready to share all my findings. How exciting!
Ensure to begin your day with oxygen pulsating through your veins first thing in the morning. It will allow you to feel rejuvenated, focused, and will give you a fresh outlook on your day.
#2 Direct Space
Once you have your head space sorted, it stands to reason that you will need to have your workspace sorted too. This is probably one of the biggest threats to your writing career, because if your workspace isn’t meeting your needs your productivity will fall.
Ensure your workspace is free of distractions. I had builders going off next door, so I organized a wonderful playlist of foreign music and played that as loud as my speakers would allow. I always believe that there is nothing wrong with organized chaos.
Remember the joys of being a writer, you can work from anywhere, as long as you are free to keep working. So perhaps you could take a day and work from a nearby coffee shop, or go to a friend’s house, your choices are limitless.
#3 Secondary Computers
Organizing your workspace to the maximum is essential. I have a main Mac desktop, a secondary PC, and then my Laptop for when I need an environmental change. I really feel this helps me and the reason for the two desktops is quite straightforward. I have all my emails, social networking and analytic reports – that in all honesty distract me – on my PC. So I keep my Mac clear of notifications and it is a pleasure to type, design and focus on when I go into “The Write Styles” of writing.
My PC is then great for something that I may need to quickly research further, it has my surround sound music going in the background, and ultimately I don’t need minimize screens or lose my train of thought on my Mac at all.
There is a huge dispute regarding writers and their research tactics, some authors say a writer should only research their article for the day, others say that you should research multiple topics for multiple articles at once. Personally, I find that I like to keep notes of all ideas that I wish to cover in my week. If I stumble on certain topics that happen to cover the said subjects, I keep the URL’s on these notes.
This serves as a dual purpose because first, many sites that I write for insist on having the URL’s to support any claims made, and secondly I don’t have to waste time researching from scratch when I get to writing the articles during the week.
So it is safe to say that your goals determine your research. The last thing you need is to have tons of research taking up unnecessary space on topics that are not channeled into written articles. The internet, if anything, is growing and all material is at your disposal at anytime you actually wish to start writing your articles.
You also want to ensure that your research does not end up side tracking you from your article at hand.
#5 Setting Goals
I read a book of Earl Nightingale some time back in which he wrote an article about goals. He likened somebody without a goal to a ship with no destination, just floating about in the huge oceans. It’s a rather picturesque likening and therefore stuck with me.
Now I make a point of having day-to-day goals as well as short and long-term goals, and I must admit that marking them off as they manifest gives me incredible sense of purpose. There are very few feelings that can stir the same emotions as the sense of achievement and purpose can.
Set your goals, ensure that they are achievable, then place them where you can see them. Make constant reminders of your goals, but keep adjusting them according to your growth. Whatever you do, don’t stagnate if you haven’t achieved a goal. Remember that very often it is important to figure how not to do something before you manage to figure how to do it. The Wright brothers didn’t just build a plane and fly.
#6 Upgrade Your Own Self
This might sound totally bizarre, but trust me, there is nothing more time-consuming and soul-destroying than being stuck due to your own ignorance.
Keep reading all you can lay your eyes on about subjects that are pertinent to your writing career. Once again this has dual functionality because not only are you widening your knowledge, but you are also becoming more aware of other people’s writing styles and thereby widening your own skills.
There are thousands of accessible books on the internet now, one need only browse and you have knowledge at your fingertips. Ignorance is no longer bliss.
#7 Killing Two Birds with One Stone.
In writing, multi-tasking will ensure that the only one that will be left holding a stone is you. Writing is not the place nor the time to multitask. Take a look at the goals set out for the day as we discussed in #5 and stick to those, one at a time. Attempting to multi-task is going to lead to procrastination because you will get side tracked. Once again, I am speaking of experience. I have so often thought, “Hmm, I can quickly finish this while I wait for that to …” Honestly, multi-tasking has becomes the thief of all time in writing. Take one task, finish it, feel great as you wipe it from your list and tackle the next task. This again leads to my next tip writing and proofing.
#8 Writing and Proofing
These are two tasks, therefore they are approached separately. When you are writing, just write. Get lost in what you’re doing and don’t worry about the little red, green, or blue squiggle popping up on your screen. They make the page colorful, learn to ignore them.
It almost becomes a mind game, you can feel a sense of achievement each time you see a colored squiggle pop up and maintain your thought pattern and typing speed. Of course, if you can type the document without seeing any squiggle then you really have hit the bonus jackpot.
When writing stay focused, but when proofing your document, read it out loud. Yes. You may think I am losing the plot here, but I am actually very serious. The mind reads what the mind thinks you want to hear, because when you read an article aloud, you are forcing yourself to really read and that includes punctuation as well.
Write any idea down that may come to mind, a thing to do, or even a note to self. It really doesn’t matter what the reason was for the idea coming to you. If your first thought regarding the idea is “wow”, then write it, make a note, but don’t allow yourself for one moment to think that you will remember it later because it is so “wow”. Write your ideas, complete your current list of goals, then go over your notes and cherish these ideas, you can make them grow.
#10 Take a Break
This topic also seems somewhat contested in the writers’ world. I have read articles of writers stating that when you get started then you should not break under any circumstance. Other blogs say no, you should break every 20 – 30 min.
Personally I find that once again I like to place my goal before each article. If the article is for 1,000 words, then I would ‘chunk’ my article, first 10 minute break after research, second at 500 words and depending on time of day either pack up after the article or set a time limit to my break.
Writing should remain a pleasure, a passion, and something that you look forward to. Your workspace is not your solitary confinement. Your words are not your sentence. You determine the limit of your efficiency and your writing career.
Keep Writing and Blessed Be,