Being a writer and a dedicated one that is, takes a lot more of YOU as a person than many would imagine. Doing an excellent job of it and being more effective at writing takes even more from you. It is hard work to be successful as a writer. It takes dedication and a huge time investment from your side, regardless if you’re a content writer, blogger, reporter, journalist or simply a freelance writer. Then you have to throw a certain skill level into that mix as well.
In today’s age where information overload and technology innovations are playing a huge part of our everyday lives, being productive as a writer, one needs to have certain routines, habits, and organizing abilities in order to succeed. In this article I will share with you some of what I think are the most important aspects to master as a writer which in return will yield you far greater results, being any type of writer.
1. Take Notes
As a writer there is probably nothing more frustrating than when you want to write about the brilliant idea you got earlier this morning while on your way to work but suddenly you have no idea what it was about. Unfortunately with the millions of ideas and thoughts running through the human mind each day, this does happen and quite often more than anticipated.
The idea is that you would enable yourself to jot those ideas down as soon as you’re thinking about them. Always ensure that you take a little notebook with you wherever you go. Now this may not always be physically possible especially while driving but as far as I know most newer phones these days have a recording function. Simply record your ideas down. If you own a smart phone or iPad or you are used to take your laptop with you wherever you go, you absolutely have no excuse to forget those million dollar ideas anymore. An application I like to use for this task is called Evernote which also enables you to sync all your notes between your various devices.
2. Do Proper Research
Yes we all want to write about things we are crazy about and also this should be preferred as you will most likely be able to make a success of whatever you’re writing, including be able to engage your readers on a more personal level. At some point though you will have reached your limit of knowledge on that specific topic and research needs to become part of the mix.
As per the next point in this article about setting aside a specific time frame to do your writing, the research of your work must not be included in that time. This is in between, when Ideas pop up in your thinking, when you’re having lunch, in between appointments etc. This is where you’ll need your notes you made. Make sure of your facts before starting to write just anything that could unconsciously be the farthest thing from the truth or simply be outdated.
Research will also help you in the process of actual writing as you will have enough content to put into words that will engage your readers while reading your publication.
3. Make Time To Write
This goes without saying. You need to set aside some time in your daily schedule to actually get what’s in your head down on your computer or whichever medium you choose. Your article, report, eBook or any form of publication simply won’t get done if you don’t take the time to sit down and write it.
However simple and obvious this may sound to many of you, if done incorrectly, it could actually still be of no help as you might just end up sitting without anything to show for the time you spent on it. You need to set a specific time frame during your daily schedule for your writing. Mark it out in your diary, ensure you schedule no other appointments for that time and focus only on writing. Start at the exact time you specified and don’t stop until that time is over.
4. Close Off All Distractions
Yes that’s right. Shut them down. Close your email client. Close your Skype. Switch off your phone. Don’t just put your phone on silent, switch it completely off. As far as I know most phones these days have the vibrating functionality, flashing LED lights and who knows what other forms of notifications of incoming calls, messages or events on your calendar. You are supposed to not get any of them during the time you set out for your writing.
We are human and all humans get distracted in some way or another. During your writing you may very well still get distracted by unforeseen circumstances or events like the dog barking, a vehicle in the background or anything else for that matter. Your responsibility though is to minimize those distractions and close off anything within your immediate capabilities.
Please don’t get me wrong. We need to keep in touch with others. I am not saying you need to cut yourself off from the rest of the world for 5 hours straight. You’ll be quite amazed at how much you can actually get written in just an hour or two without any distractions. The best part is, as you become more experienced it gets easier and you start getting even more done within the same time frame. The world will not end in those few minutes you “take a break” from it.
5. Just Do It
Once you’ve sit down to write, you have one hour or two, whatever you decided on, to write. You have done enough research and you should have tens and tens of ideas and thoughts on the topic you could put down on paper. If not, start at step one and two and get that done properly.
The biggest obstacle and reason for people to not have anything to show after two hours of “writing” is by editing what you have written while you were supposed to write. The pusuit of perfection is something I strongly believe in as the world needs good quality of whatever it is that you’re doing. The trick is to know that there is a specific time for editing which is only after you’re done writing your first draft.
Don’t worry about mistakes at first, grammar or anything else. Just get down what’s in your mind in one go. Write everything you want to say without looking at the previous sentence and you’ll soon find you’ve just written 800-1500 which is then known as your first draft. It happens to me quite often that I realize I have just done 4000 words in an hour and a half. It really is that simple.
From here on you can go and start editing, make sure your spelling and grammar is up to top notch, your ideas are clear and that everything will make perfect sense to even the newest of beginners within your niche or topic.
This is the part where you publish or submit your article to whichever host or publication it’s supposed to be featured at. Ask for feedback, get your audience involved and engage with them any way possible regarding your work but most importantly, listen to your audience. See where you can improve. Give them what THEY want despite of what you think they want or need.
Having said that, I am now handing over this article to you guys and would love to hear what your thoughts are on being productive as a writer. Share it with us in the comments section below and ask any questions you might have; I’d be happy to help out where I can!