In this month’s Writing Magazine I’ve an article about making the most of this month’s extra day. So I thought I’d share some of it here, so you can start planning on how you’re going to use yours!
Congratulations! Your writing business has been awarded an extra 24 hours this year. It’s called Saturday February 29th. So what are you going to do with yours?
Most of us never have enough time to write, yet, ironically, it’s not the amount of time that makes us more productive, but how we use that time. We all get given the same 24 hours in a day as everyone else. It’s what we do with those 1,440 minutes that turns a typical day into a productive day for our writing business.
Know Your CPT
Do you know your CPT? When is your most Creatively Productive Time of day? Understanding when our words and thoughts flow better can make a huge difference to our productivity.
Kristina Adams (https://www.kristinaadamsauthor.com) is the author of Productivity for Writersand the What Happens In series of humorous romantic novels. ‘Most of my writing is done in the evening,’ she explains, ‘as I find I’m most creative in the evenings and at night time. At the weekends I get up early to do some writing or editing, then I spend time with my partner and our dog during the day, and do some more in the evening.’
Interestingly, Kristina’s found she’s less productive when she can spend the whole day writing. ‘I find that on days where I sit down to write and have nothing else to do, I’m less productive than on days where I do other things around writing.’
Morgen Bailey (that’s Morgen with an ‘e’) is an author, tutor, speaker, editor, blogger and podcaster. So not only is she writing books, like her recently published The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, she’s also an editor for Bloodhound Books, often talks to local WI groups, and even writes stories for other people (check out https://morgenbailey.com/your-unique-story). She’s recently been experimenting with the time of day when she writes.
‘In the middle of October, with NaNoWriMo looming, I decided to write at least three hundred words a day, which – my favourite statistic – is over 109,500 words a year, and 109,800 this year. It invariably takes no more than half an hour – achievable by anyone willing to have a regular habit.’
‘I used to set aside the evenings to write,’ she continues, ‘but found it rarely happened so instead, with my new three hundred-word target, I write every morning, before any other work – but only after walking my dog and the first cup of tea – priorities! I’ve stuck to this three-hundred-word-minimum regime ever since and if I’m out for the day, I get up earlier. There’s really no excuse if you want to do something badly enough.’
A Cunning Plan
Having identified our most creative time of day, the best way to ensure every minute of that creatively productivity time counts is to know what we’re going to write.
‘Plan!’ says Kristina. ‘I used to despise planning, but I’ve found that it can cut my writing and editing time at least in half, if not more. I’m already planning my third series even though I haven’t finished writing my second one yet! It’s so much easier to fix plot issues in advance than find you’re halfway through a project and have to start again because it doesn’t work.’
Planning isn’t just about identifying what you’re going to write. It’s also about scheduling.
As an editor for Bloodhound Books, Morgen’s writing time has to fit around production schedules. ‘I’m regularly sent an editorial schedule so I know, several months in advance, what my deadlines are,’ she says. ‘As well as the first full edit, I get to see the novels again before they’re published, so it’s easy to plan my months. Of course, things change but then the rest of my workload changes with it. I’m given three weeks per first full edit – usually three sweeps – and a week for the final read, so I can usually juggle the two or three novels I receive each month. That leaves a week towards the end of the month for myself.’
Schedule your writing time in the diary. It’s important. Every other business appointment gets written in there, so why not add in our own writing business appointment with creativity?
I allocated a morning to write the first draft of this article. I put it in my diary. When I looked at it the previous evening, I knew what I would be doing when I sat down at my desk the following morning.
So, book your creatively productive time slot in your diary on February 29th. Plan what you’re going to write during that session, and prepare in advance. Delegate other things, if you can, and make your environment conducive to writing. And get a good night’s sleep beforehand.
When it comes to the business of writing, every minute counts. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that we should be writing for every single minute of this extra day.
Business Directory – Productivity Top Tips
1. Cut distractions. Switch off notifications. Turn off your WiFi. Wear noise-cancelling headphones or play music that inspires you.
2. Reward yourself. Treat yourself when you reach your target word count, or meet a deadline. Use social media as a reward, not a distraction.
3. Focus. Clear your writing space of any other writing projects. Only have material to hand that is related to your current work in progress.
4. Accountability. Tell a friend about today’s goals. It’ll help keep procrastination at bay.
5. Take regular breaks. Get a drink, and have a stretch. A five-minute break can rejuvenate a tiring mind.