Completing an article comes down to two stages – first you create the concept and then you turn that concept into words, sentences and paragraphs…
The tips I will be sharing today will focus on the second element. And although I strongly believe that creating the initial blog post idea is tougher than writing the actual post, there are some tips and tricks that can maximize the effectiveness of the latter…
So, if you are searching for a way to improve your writing productivity i.e. start writing more while spending less of your precious time, you might want to take a look at the ideas I share and overview in the below lines (oh and don’t forget to share your thoughts about ‘em in the comments section!):
Why Write More in the First Place
Now some of you are probably wondering, why should they actually be writing more and how will that be beneficial to them.
There is more than one way to answer that question, but one of the most important things is that the more you write per day, the easier it is to keep writing. That simple fact is allowing me to complete more articles in a shorter period of time, which results in a more frequent blog posting schedule and hence more traffic. That way I also have time to start writing guest articles – an essential ingredient to search engine optimization.
So to achieve this, you need more than to simply start writing more. You also need to write productively and here’s how:
1. Start by Creating a Checklist
I really love checklists. I have found those an awesome way to keep track of all of my blogging and social media tasks. Using Sticky Notes is my preferred way for creating those kinds of checklists (take a look at my post Using Sticky Notes to Improve Blogging Productivity).
And in order to improve your writing productivity and start publishing more often, you need a plan of some sort – that is what your checklist will consist of!
But what do you include?
Well in order to start putting more effort towards writing, you need to know exactly what you will be writing and when you will be writing it.
With a task to complete and a deadline to chase, it is far more motivating to start writing, than if you were only told you should write.
The above screenshot is how my checklist looks like. The deadline as you can see is in the brackets – that is when the two articles in the numbered list should be completed. It is useful to add additional information (such as WIP (work in progress), Image Required, Proofreading, etc) to remind you which elements of the articles you’ve completed and which you haven’t yet tackled.
Additionally I would highly recommend you to install the Editorial Calendar WordPress plugin. The plugin visualizes your blog posts in a calendar-like layout, which makes it easier to track progress.
2. Use a Stopwatch for Maximum Focus
Distractions are one big problem for all writers…
It might be that whenever you start writing, someone starts chatting to you, it might be that you recall having something important to do or whatever. The fact is that often times there are those small things that are making it impossible for you to focus on your actual work.
So, how do you tackle that problem?
One approach that I found fairly effective is using a stopwatch or a countdown timer. The rule is once you turn the stopwatch on you don’t do anything else accept to write. The time interval is up to you to decide, but I wouldn’t recommend anything less than 40 minutes (I personally set it up to one hour). Time flies really fast when you start writing.
Once you put this method to the test, you will see that in 40 minutes you can write an upward of 400-500 words – something that is hardly possible if you write a little, do something else, write again and do something else.
That is the countdown timer I prefer to use. It’s not the greatest of design but it does the job quite well.
This approach resembles the purpose of using Sticky Notes. By setting yourself a deadline or a time-frame, you take the task at hand more seriously and you don’t allow your mind to wander as much as it would otherwise.
3. Don’t Write All at Once
Say you’ve been writing for 30 minutes. The stopwatch shows that you still have ten more minutes to go, but you already feel totally burnt out. In that situation should you keep writing?
The answer is no…
What you can do instead is cut your work-flow into two or three separate stages throughout the day. There’s really no point in forcing yourself to write when you don’t feel like continuing. Even if you do, you probably won’t be happy with the outcome once you start proofreading and you will have to start over.
Remember – it’s best to write when the words come naturally i.e. when you don’t have to stop every thirty seconds to think of something “suitable” to write next.
4. Step Away from Your Computer
That is a crucial yet often neglected step. Computers and Internet are part of our daily lives – there is no denying. However it can be very challenging to stay on track and publish quality content if all you’ve been doing this day is to stay in front of your computer.
Even if you are doing different things on the PC, you are still sitting on that same chair for hours and hours straight. The brain simply can’t take that – it needs diversity.
Taking a break from your work doesn’t refer to simply stopping for fifteen minutes only to play some Free Cell. A real break is one where you actually get off of your computer, laptop or whatever device you are using.
For maximum productivity I would highly suggest that you don’t spend more than an hour – hour and a half of continues work on your computer. Step away, do some exercises, read a book, take a walk… We aren’t living our lives in the cyber-world after all.
Let me Hear What You Think!
The above tips are pretty much the ones that I’ve found to be of most help for me. I would really recommend you to start following them and see for yourself if they work. Now it’s your turn folks! What other techniques have you tried? How much articles are you publishing weekly? Are you happy with the results? Let me know in the comments section (CommentLuv is enabled)!