If you are like me, your writing time is both precious and never long enough. So here are some of my methods to make sure you are getting the most pages out of your limited time.
1) Stop reading email, posting on Twitter and checking your Facebook account. Okay, maybe that’s a little drastic, but how about printing out this little rule and stick it on your computer screen: Writing first, all the rest second. To make is easier, turn off all your notifications that will beep or pop up on the corner of your moniter. You don’t need to see “what’s going on” every second of the day. Especially not during your writing time.
2) Do as much pre-writing as possible. Take notes while you eat breakfast and lunch. Sketch out dialogue bits, scene ideas, setting descriptions. When you sit down to write, type these notes right into your manuscript and they are usually enough to catapult you into your story without too much hemming and hawing.
3) Write from a well-thought out outline or synopsis. These are the roadmap of your story and will get you from A to Z in the quickest route. You wouldn’t drive from Seattle to Dallas without a good map, so why write a novel without one?
4) Use a timer. When I get really behind or am on deadline, I use a kitchen timer. I set it for anywhere between five and twenty minutes and tell myself that I have that much time to write X amount of pages. That little ticking bomb really gets my fingers flying.
5) Turn off the internal editor. When I write my first draft, my only goal is to get the story down. If there are missing transitions, holes in the dialogue or in a scene, or a word, sentence or paragraph that just doesn’t sound quite right, all of that can be fixed when I do my revisions. Remember: Revising a manuscript is an entirely different process than writing the first draft.
6) Set a specific time each day and amount of time to write. Make this time sacred. You’ll find that as your daily writing time approaches, your imagination, thoughts and focus start moving toward your story automatically.
7) If you find yourself stuck and unable to think of anything, just write the dialogue for the scene. Or describe the scene. Anything related to that part of the book to keep your fingers moving. If you are really and truly stuck, go back to your synopsis and then move to the next scene.
8) Give yourself a writing night out once a week. I get out of the house, away from the family, and go to Starbucks, where I review notes and plan my writing for the next week. Sometimes I use these hours to review the pages I’ve written recently or just brainstorm. The change in scenery and the lack of interruptions will allow you time to concentrate and come away revitalized and refueled (literally) to get to work.
What are some of your favorite tricks to maximize your writing time?