Whatever the size of your next writing assignment, the time in which you complete it can vary to an extraordinary degree. How come? It all comes down to your writing productivity.
As an example, I know I can write a 500-word article in about 30 minutes. But I know it can also take me two or three hours. Same article, but different levels of productivity.
So what makes the difference? How can the time it takes to write 500 words vary to such a degree?
It all comes down to how focused and productive you are when you sit down to write.
Over the years I have written hundreds of articles, two books, four courses at about 75,000 words each, and much more besides.
For me, writing productivity is core to my success. If I don’t work efficiently, I can’t make a decent living.
Here are four ways in which I stay productive.
1. Set a start and finish time for each writing task
Whether I’m writing a short article, or writing a book, I set aside specific blocks of time. For an article, I might put aside one hour. If I’m writing a book, I’ll put aside more like three hours a day, five days a week.
But not just any hour, or any three hours. I set a start time and a finish time, just as if I were sitting an exam at school.
2. Prepare before you begin
I get everything ready before I start writing. If I have research to do, or references to check, I get that done before my allotted writing time.
By preparing in advance, I can allocate my block of time to writing, without being distracted by the need to wander off and check something in a book, or fire up my browser.
3. Turn off all distractions
I turn off my email, unplug my phone and close my browser before I begin writing. Why? Because I don’t trust myself. If my browser is open, I know I’ll feel tempted. If I’m struggling with a particular sentence, I know that a part of my mind will suggest I take a break, check my email, and so on. But that’s bad advice.
Writing productivity is all about focus. And the mere presence of potential distractions is the enemy of focus.
4. Recognize and nurture your momentum
When you feel a positive momentum building, nurture it. Ride it. Momentum helps you write faster, and usually improves the quality of what you’re writing.
Momentum doesn’t just appear. It doesn’t just happen. It’s a product of being prepared, being disciplined, being focused…and being insulated from distractions.
If you really want to become a pro at writing productively, all of the time, check out my guide, Writing Rituals.