Tips for Getting More Writing Done

One of the challenges of writing is...writing. Here are some tips for actually getting some work done:

  1. For many people, don't wait for inspiration to strike. Creative thinking often comes most easily when you’re writing regularly and frequently, when you’re constantly thinking about your project.

  2. Write in brief chunks of time; taking frequent breaks keeps you fresh. And don’t mislead yourself with thoughts like, “If I don’t have five or six hours clear, there’s no point in starting.” Even fifteen minutes is long enough to write.

  3. Don’t procrastinate and don’t binge on writing. These habits lead to burn-out.

  4. If you have trouble re-entering a project, stop working in mid-thought—even mid-sentence—so it’s easy to dive back in later.

  5. Stay patient. Don’t get distracted by how much you are or aren’t getting done.

  6. Remember that lots of good ideas and great writing come during the revision stage.

  7. Develop a method of keeping track of thoughts, ideas, articles, or anything that catches your attention. Combing through these materials helps stimulate your creativity.

  8. Pay attention to your physical comfort. Do you have a decent desk and chair? Are you cramped? Is the light too dim or too bright? Make a salute—if you feel relief when your hand is shading your eyes, your desk is too brightly lit.

  9. Check your body. Lower your shoulders, make sure your tongue isn’t pressed against the top of your mouth, don’t sit in a contorted way.

  10. Try to eliminate interruptions—by other people, email, or poking around the Internet—but don’t tell yourself that you can only work with complete peace and quiet.

  11. Down with boredom. If something's boring to you, you probably won't be able write about it in an interesting way. Find a way to make that subject interesting, or find a way to leave it out altogether.

  12. Stuck? Go for a walk and read a good book. Virginia Woolf noted in her diary: “The way to rock oneself back into writing is this. First gentle exercise in the air. Second the reading of good literature. It is a mistake to think that literature can be produced from the raw.”

  13. Have something to say! This sounds obvious, but it’s a lot easier to write when you’re trying to tell a story, explain an idea, convey an impression, give a review, or whatever. If you're having trouble writing, forget about the writing and focus on what you want to communicate.

Not sure what to write? Start gathering your thoughts with a manifesto or your personal commandments.

Tips for Getting More Writing Done