Today, writers are under constant pressure to perform. Getting it done is essential, and writers overload their writing schedules for fear of losing clients. It’s dangerous. The stress destroys your peace of mind, and ultimately, your health.
Technology, while it’s helpful, also adds to stress. Clients expect to contact you anywhere, anytime.
How can you get everything done, while minimizing stress?
You CAN manage your writing life. Start by managing your technology.
Getting it done, despite technology (it should help, but often hinders)
Unfortunately, technology is also distracting.
While every writer is different, managing your writing life is easier when you limit technology during your writing hours… You do have “writing hours” don’t you?
Many writers don’t have a strict schedule of hours devoted to writing, so that’s our first tip.
1. Schedule your writing-only hours: turn off your phone, email and Facebook
I’m most productive in the early hours of the morning. Many years ago, I could write at night, but these days I limit my after-hours writing tasks to editing.
Not sure when you’re most productive? See our fifth tip.
During my writing-only hours, I turn off my phone, and email/ messaging notifications. I open only the apps I need — Scrivener, mind mapping apps, and my voice recognition app.
What if you have a day job, and can’t find hours which you can schedule for writing? You may only have minutes — if so, schedule your minutes, because you’re building productive habits.
2. Choose one day as your “research day”, another as your “invoice/ business day”
Both writing research and managing your writing business can eat into your productivity. Research easily expands — ten minutes turns into a couple of hours.
As for business tasks like paying bills, and sending invoices and statements, writers tend to procrastinate on these. They put off sending invoices for weeks, then suddenly realize that they don’t have any money coming in.
When you keep your must-do tasks for one designated day, you ensure that they get done in the time you’ve allotted.
3. Use a voice recorder to record your thoughts and ideas
Do you get ideas when you’re exercising? Or doing household chores? Many writers do. Carry a voice recorder, or get a voice recording app for your phone.
The best of these will transcribe your voice notes into Dropbox or Evernote.
4. Getting it done is easier when you automate everything you can (and hire help when you need it)
Apps make things easier. Whenever you think: “I’m spending too much time on this…” Look for an app.
Sometimes they’re free, or close to free. Harvest, the time and expense tracking app for example, charges you zero to manage two projects.
When you know that you’ll need help on a project, post your own project on a freelance marketplace like Upwork. Remember to charge your client for your time, and for the money you’re paying your sub-contractor.
5. You’re you: keep logs, so you discover when you’re most creative
You’ll get more done if you use your most creative, high-energy hours for writing. Oddly enough, even though you’re sitting (or relaxed on your sofa if you’re dictating), writing is tiring.
Keep a writing log for a week, so that you know what you’re doing, and when. Then start tinkering, and try writing at different times of the day.
You may find that you’re more creative late at night, or early in the morning. Experiment.
Be happy with how you’re getting things done — it’s enough
Many writers destroy their productivity with worry. They compare themselves to other writers, and worry that they’re somehow not “enough”.
Stop judging your writing and yourself. Writers are hopeless at judging their writing, and it’s not your place to judge.
Read this excellent article from James Clear — Martha Graham on the Hidden Danger of Comparing Yourself to Others.
The dancer Agnes de Mille told Martha Graham, the famous choreographer, that “… I had a burning desire to be excellent, but no faith that I could be.”
It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
Sensible advice. Onward… 🙂
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