9 Ways to Write Smarter, Not Harder

googleimagesMany budding–and established–writers have day jobs that prevent them from dedicating their days to their writing. How can you use your free time to turn your writing into something substantial? What’s the solution to that pressure? Adjust your time management skills to maximize the time you do have to create something you can be proud of.

Control what you can.

Let go of what you can’t.

Enjoy writing and the passion will show through.

1. Outline and plan.

Make a do-to list of unfinished projects or revisions. Check your list regularly and decide where to spend your time. Use a calendar to track your progress and work toward your goals. Sounds like an obvious step, but seeing it written down will help you see the gaps that need to be filled.

2. Prioritize.

80% of your accomplishments will come from 20% of your efforts. Learn to say ‘no’ to things that aren’t getting you closer to your goal. If you want to write a novel, focus on novel writing, not poetry and short stories. Know where you want your career to go and take the measurable steps to get there. There are only so many hours in a day. When you go to bed at night you want to know you’ve done everything you can to feel good about your writing.

3. Set deadlines.

Is there a writing contest coming up that you want to submit to? Focusing on working backwards from a deadline can help your motivation and feel like you are working towards something exciting. Not only will you know someone is waiting to read your work at the end, but you’ll also set yourself up for small ego-boosting achievements that let you know ‘yes, you can do this.’

4. Organize a block of time when you can’t be interrupted.

Close the door. Leave a note. Set up a time every day or every week that is for writing and writing only. If others respect your time, you will too.

5. Have a ‘room of one’s own.’

Set up a work desk that is for writing and writing only. That way your routine is inherent: when you sit down at this desk, it’s writing time. If you share a desk with a partner, try to keep things organized in folders (digitally and physically) so that you can get right into your work instead of clearing off someone else’s things.

6. Let yourself have social (media) time.

Breaks are part of productivity. It’s okay to go on Twitter, blog about what’s on your mind, and update your Facebook status. When you take regular breaks you’ll be more focused when you settle back in. Not only online, social activity can spur on your writing too: join a critique group, go to coffee with a fellow writing friend, join a writers’ guild, or attend a writers’ conference. You’ll find others have the same hobby and want to talk about it too.

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