Would you like to write more? If you’re a writer, the answer is probably yes. (If you’re not a writer, what are you doing here? You should be watching this.)
Imagine you could eek out 350 more words a day. That’s not so much, right? Most writers can bang that many words out in a pretty reasonable amount of time. If you did that five days a week, for a whole year, you would have 91,000 words more than if you didn’t. That’s a whole freaking novel. But how to make time for those 350 words?
Well wonder no longer, my friends. Here is my official list of 10 Ways to Write More.
1. Stop Watching TV
Okay, okay, I know you’re not going to stop entirely, but seriously, if you’re one of those writers who is always saying they don’t have time to write, and then, in the next breath, telling me how great “You Better Call Saul” is – shut up. Cut one hour of TV a day and use it to write 350 words instead.
2. Let Your Kids Watch TV
I try not to do this one every day. TV rots their little brains after all, but now and then, when the weather is icky, or everyone is tired and I just need one damn hour to get some writing in, I fire up the tube. Try PBS for some good programming. Or let them watch the Simpsons – in Spanish. And practice saying this: “it’s educational.”
3. Get Up Earlier
You night owls will fight me on this, I know, but once you get used to those quiet morning hours, you will never go back. Check out my post on how to train yourself to get up early to write.
4. Write Faster
Yep. Just write faster. It’s actually not as hard as it sounds. Click here to read my recent post on how to train yourself to write faster.
5. Embrace Airplane Mode
Distractions are the worst. When you sit down to write, make yourself a little cocoon. Close the door, shut down your email, turn off alerts, and set your phone to airplane mode. We’re talking half an hour here. You only need 350 words. The world can wait.
6. Keep a To-Do List
There are also distractions that come from inside. I find that when I sit down to write I suddenly remember all sorts of things that need my attention, important things, like “call the doctor and make sure the boy’s tetanus shot is up to date.” So I keep a post-it note next to my computer and jot down anything and everything that comes to mind. Then I get back to my writing.
7. Pack Your Lunch
I work from home and I still pack my lunch. Because if I don’t, I spend half an hour wandering around in the kitchen opening cabinets and trying to decide what to eat. When I worked in an office, going to buy something took half an hour. That was time I could have been writing.
8. Stop Dicking Around with Email
Raise your hand if you have checked your email today? Did it look something like this? Open your email, read the ones from people you like, grudgingly read the ones from people who are bothering you for something, then decide you’ll deal with all that shit later and click to do something else. Ug. You just wasted half an hour you could have been writing. And you solved nothing. Now all those emails are just hanging there in your consciousness, causing stress.
Next time, try this. Only open your email when you have time to deal with it. Respond to, delegate or delete every email in your inbox. Close your email. Don’t check it again for at least four hours. Go write.
9. Make a Bet
If you really want to keep yourself motivated to write more, put some money on the line. I bet my friend Alexandra that I would have my manuscript ready to send out in March and wrote her a post-dated check for $1,000 to cash if I don’t make my goal. You better believe I’m going to make that deadline.
10. Set a Timer
When my sister was studying for her board exams, she set a goal to study four hours a day, but she didn’t try to do it all in one chunk. She set a timer and for one hour, sat down to study and did nothing else. Nothing. No pee breaks, no coffee. She pushed hard to focus until the timer went off, then she got up and took a break. For at least 15 minutes she would do something else, even if it was just laundry. Then, when it was time for round two she repeated the whole process.
It worked because there was an end time. No matter how much she wasn’t feeling it, she knew she could maintain focus for one hour. It also worked because she didn’t allow any distractions. You don’t have to do a whole hour. And you certainly don’t have to do four hours a day. The point is, sometimes we’re not excited to sit down and get to work, but if we have an end point, we can usually work towards it. I find that keeping a stash of cookies in my desk helps a lot.
So there you have it. 10 easy ways you can write more. Chose one, or mix them up, but whatever you do, just keep writing.