Writers hear it all the time: Write every day. Write crummy first drafts. Junk it through. Yet many of us lose valuable word count to time sucks that are NOT the usual suspects.
Writing Tip for Today: You may be losing precious word count (which equals progress) to activities which sound vital but are in fact, time sucks. Here are some easy ways to increase your production (and by extension, your skills, your story and your progress toward a finished draft):
- Restrict Research! I know. Research is fascinating and in the right doses lends an air of credibility your story must have. But do you become mired in the Research Dimension for hours on end? Yeah, me too. My answer, when I’m writing and don’t know a factoid, is to insert the letters SSLT right into the manuscript. It’s a placeholder that stands for “Some Stuff Like That,” and when you revise you can enter a search and replace for it so you don’t overlook one. If you allow research free rein, you’ll be losing creative time to stuff that while important, shouldn’t interrupt you when you’re in the zone.
- Savvy Up on Social Networking. Again, I’m as guilty as the next writer of moseying around Facebook for longer than I really need to . Many writers fear that diving into the social media will rob them of writing time and subject them to banal posts or tweets about breakfast. Instead of an either/or decision, learn to link as many functions in one place as possible. You don’t want to sound like a spammy robot, but there is nothing wrong with using Hootsuite, Buffer, an RSS reader or a Facebook Group Page to streamline your efforts. You can link together all the sites you participate in and free up time for writing by not having to physically re post on each site. Here’s a great article by Michael Hyatt on social media.
- Make A Schedule–and Stick to It! If you lead a busy life (duh!), you probably don’t have all the time in the world for your writing. Try breaking up your typical weekly writing time allotment into THIRDS. Use roughly one-third to draft (create), the next third to revise and the last third to build platform. This might include: submitting short pieces to periodicals; scheduling, monitoring or writing blog posts, tweets, status updates, etc.; lining up speaking engagements, teaching opportunities or bookstore events and querying or studying potential agents, researching market listings, writing queries and/or synopses or pitches. If you delegate your time specifically, you may be less likely to feel scattered or overwhelmed. And your “in the zone” time will thank you.