Making headway on your writing projects can be challenging, especially since writing naturally triggers resistance and there are so many things that pull our attention.
Just getting myself to my desk to write this article, took time and planning. I could have easily been in the dreamy phase of creating for a long time. But luckily, there are ways to be more efficient, and also to get more done.
Adding in new tactics can feel like extra work, especially when we’re on a deadline, or we wish we could just jump on the computer and everything would flow.
However, it’s an investment that will pay off in both time and amount of work done.
The first few points are all about setting your foundation. I’ve included my favorite apps and resources in hopes they’ll help you. The last few points are all about how to actually get to work on your project–in a way that feels good.
Block Out Your Time
Firstly, it’s important to block out your time. For me, I’ve tried various efficiency tactics but actually blocking out the time works best.
Maybe it’s because I’m a Pisces, with a bunch of energy in Scorpio, and the 12th house, that the structure really helps.
If you don’t have a fancy planner, or they don’t work for you, that’s okay. A piece of paper works fine. Go through your tasks hour by hour to make sure everything gets on there.
Use Distraction Free Software
Set yourself up for success by making your writing time distraction free. There are lots of ways to do this.
Use Pages, Word or Google Docs, just put them in full screen. (If you use something online, open up a separate window so it’s the only tab open).
A new favorite, which I’m writing this article on, is Airstory. I love how clutter free the interface is.
Or write by hand.
Whatever you choose, be intentional.
Set a Timer
Timers work well, especially to keep you off your phone. I like my regular iPhone timer and the Forest App. If I impulsively pick up my phone, I see the timer going and will put it down.
I know people swear by the Pomodoro technique as well (20 minutes working 5 minutes off).
Brainstorm and Let Out Ideas
A big challenge is knowing we have to write that next blog post or piece of copy but not knowing where to start.
We can often get sidetracked by the unknown of it all.
Just know this is part of the process. Block out a chunk of time, it could just be ten minutes, to brainstorm all your ideas and thoughts. Allow this time to get all the ideas floating around out of your head and on to paper.
My favorite way to think of this is from Natalie Goldberg. She talks about writing as a way to compost our ideas. Turn them over, get them out, and allow for what really wants to come forward to grow from there.
Start with the Headline and Work Your Way Backwards
A helpful trick, which I’m stealing from Copyblogger, is to spend time on your headline first and then create your outline from there.
It will help you stay true to the promise of the title and will give you focus as you move forward.
Set an Intention
Before jumping into the writing, and now that you have your headline, take some time to set an intention for your work.
- How do you want people to feel?
- What’s the heart of what you’re trying to convey?
- Is there a story or example that helps anchor your ideas?
- If so, what’s the universal meaning that can be taken from it?
Doing this doesn’t take much time, but it does help you further focus your ideas. When you do go to write, you’re not stuck trying to figure things out as you go. It especially saves time in the editing process.
Create an Outline
Take the time to outline.
For me, I love the intuitiveness of writing and I like to leave space for that. But giving myself some loose structure is helpful.
It helps me keep on track with my intention and the headline. It creates points to ground into and allows for creativity to come from the spaces in between.
These are all suggestions but what really matters are the systems that work for you.
Sometimes we have an inkling of what works but there’s resistance to doing it. I know this can be true for me.
The clearer we get on what facilitates our best and most productive work, the easier it is to make better decisions with our time and efforts.
There’s the idea that when we create the space the muse will show up. Our intentionality and foundation building creates this container. The groundwork warms you up, and when you sit to actually get writing, she’ll be right there with you.
Have you struggled with getting your writing done? I’d love to hear your experience and if you found any tricks that helped. Share in the comments below!
Free Guide: How to Access Creative Flow
In this guide you'll learn the 4 principles (and corresponding exercises) to get in a flow state every time you write.