What writer wouldn’t love to increase their word count and finish more projects in less time?
Increasing writing productivity requires a certain level of commitment to the task and some solid strategies for getting more done in less time. These three tips can help you to increase your word count and be a more productive writer.
1. Don’t Try to Navigate Without a Map
Whether you are a non-fiction or a fiction writer, planning out what you’re going to write can revolutionize your writing productivity.
For Non-fiction Writers: If you’re writing a feature article, a blog post, or any other non-fiction type of text, take some time before you sit down to write to think about what information you want to cover. Sketch out a quick outline of the main points. Write headlines for each section if it’s appropriate. Most non-fiction writing is still introduction, body, and conclusion. If you outline before you write, you’re not paralyzed in the midst of writing of where the article or post needs to go next. This is how I write every article or blog post I write, and it always reduces the amount of time it would take to write the piece.
For Fiction Writers: If you’re writing a story, it’s good to know beforehand what is going to happen in the story. That doesn’t mean you have to outline every single detail that will occur. But you should have a good idea of the key events that will occur in your story and how they fit together to tell a whole story. If you have a solid outline of your story before you start writing, then the actual writing is fleshing out your outline. Parameters provided the added benefit of making you more creative because boundaries typically force people to be more creative in their approach to producing results.
2. Tap into Your Competitive Side
Many writing productivity tips would encourage you to block out all distractions while you’re writing, and of course you should do that.
But blocking out distractions is no guarantee that you’ll spend the time you have being the most productive that you can be.
If you really want to increase your word count, you have to challenge yourself. Set a timer for a set amount of time (25 minutes if you use the Pomodoro technique), and see how many words you can write during that time. Keep track and challenge yourself to write more words the next time around.
Timing yourself to write the highest amount of words you can during a set period of time assumes you’ll be distraction-free because you have a word count goal you’re striving for. Distractions would only get in the way.
Nobody running a marathon stops to play a game for a few minutes before getting back to the marathon. They have a goal and they’re determined to reach it.
You have to be that way as a writer. Set goals and time yourself to reach them.
3. Write First; Edit Later
You want your writing to be polished, but you can’t polish a blank page. The problem most writers face is feeling like their writing needs to be perfect the first time around.
But first drafts should always be less than stellar because great writing is rewriting.
When you free yourself from the need to make everything you write perfect the first time, you free yourself to write straight through without stopping. Many writers will stop several times in a sentence or a paragraph to go back and fix something or reword something to sound better.
Save editing for after you’ve written because you’re likely to approach it with fresher eyes anyway. So the next time you find yourself pressing backspace several times in the middle of writing, determine to make the backspace key off-limits and force yourself to write all the way through.
Become a More Productive Writer
When you put these three writing tips into practice, you’re sure to increase your word count, which means you can complete more projects in lesser time. If you’re a writer who’s spread between many writing projects, taking these steps can make all the difference between being productive and just spinning your wheels.
A version of this post was originally posted on The Whisper Project, a blog for writers and storytellers.
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Tom Farr is a blogger, storyteller, and screenwriter who teaches English Language Arts to high school students. He loves creating and spending time with his wife and three children. He’s the author of Extraction, a serialized supernatural thriller on Medium. He blogs regularly about writing and storytelling at The Whisper Project.