New freelance writers often think of veteran writers as superheroes. I know I did. I would spend months writing a magazine feature and look at those actually making a living writing and wonder how I, too, could get more writing done.
Whether you think you’re slow, distracted, or just disorganized, there are a lot of things I’ve learned along the way to up my game. If you want to learn how to get more writing done, read on for some top tips.
How to Get More Writing Done
Stop trying to learn everything
Are you a webinar junkie? Do you feel like you need to learn just one more thing before you can transition from journalism to content marketing? Or, maybe, you have a thirst for knowledge that never seems to end. Whatever your reason for watching every webinar advertised, stop it. Now. Go on a webinar sabbatical for six months and see if you don’t develop more story ideas, pitch more editors, or even break into new markets.
Eliminate digital distractions
Each evening when you quit work, shut down your browser. Next morning, only open the tabs you need to work on the assignment you’re working on. Do not open email or Facebook or Twitter. Stay laser-focused on your story and you’ll be able to write it much faster.
If you need some help with this, try apps like Dayboard, Freedom, or FocusMe. They are designed to lock your social media accounts during hours that you specify to keep you more productive.
Lessen other distractions
One of the best things I ever did was move my office from a corner of the living room into my daughter’s room after she went to college. That door is a tool to use when other folks are home making all kinds of ruckus, the dogs are barking, or you just keep thinking about the laundry that needs folding.
Turn off your phone, too. You don’t need to answer your phone just because it’s convenient for someone else to talk. If your family members call or text you throughout the day, tell them to stop. If they persist, their lack of respect for your work hours can’t bother you if the ringer is off.
Use time blocking
When I get an assignment, I immediately assess how long I need to complete it and block the time off on my calendar. Not all at once, of course, but in blocks of time.
I immediately block out a half-hour to email possible interview sources. Then, an hour (or what I think I will need) to do a little research and write interview questions. Because I use Calendly, my interviews are automagically added to my calendar. After I’ve conducted the interviews, I block out an hour to write a rough draft and then subsequent blocks for editing.
This technique doesn’t just assure me that I’m going to get the work done but shows me where I have enough extra time that I should up my pitching for new assignments. Or, hold off in pitches because I’m getting too busy.
Change of venue
Frequently, I feel stifled in my office. So, I pack up and head to the coffee shop in town. A change of venue always revives me and gives me a fresh perspective. You may try the library, someone else’s house (I’ve worked from my sister’s dining room table when she’s out of town.), or even the park.
Learn to write faster
I’m a slow drafter. But once that baby is out of the canal, I’m good to go with the editing process. Writing faster from the get-go is something on my list to perfect. Veteran freelance writer Linda Formichelli is the queen at writing fast. You can learn 10 of her top tips on the SmartBlogger blog.
Tell yourself you can do it
Self-doubt is the enemy of the freelance writer. Having a positive mindset sets you up for a win, every time. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop second-guessing your ideas. And, for goodness sake, stop listening to the gremlins inside your head telling you you can’t do it.
What are your tips to get more writing done?