10 tips to help you become a more productive, prolific and profitable writer

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to be a more productive, prolific and profitable writer.

These tips work for me. I experiment a lot and love discovering how our brains work. I use this to my advantage. I like knowing the hows and whys behind our behaviour.

This list is what I do to improve the quality and quantity of my output. This isn’t about what you SHOULD do. I hate that word ‘should’. You need to find the things that will help you focus and become a more productive, prolific and profitable writer. Not all of these tips will apply and fit the way your brain works.

I can smash out blog posts and sales pages for my paying clients quite quickly. I can easily write 1000 quality words in about an hour. This is for tasks where I don’t have to worry about content design, ponder high-level concepts and how all the bits fit together. Those sorts of pages take a lot longer.

The quicker I can write, the more profitable I become.

So can you.

1. Decide yesterday

I decide each evening what to wear the next day, what my son will wear, what he needs to take to school, what I’ll eat for breakfast, what I’ll do if it’s pouring and I can’t go for my morning walk.

We all get crippled by decision fatigue as the day wears on, so any decisions I can make the night before leaves more space in my day for the more important decisions.

10 productivity tips for writers

2. Don’t look at your phone for the first hour of your day

Most days I don’t switch on my phone until after I’ve done the school drop off, and even then it’s just to listen to a podcast on my walk home.

The longer I leave it to check email, social media, notifications and other messages, the less hold those things have on me during the day. I feel less drawn to checking my phone during the day and less likely to feel the lure of Facebook as a distraction.

This has been like magic for me.

Give it a go for a week and see if you notice a difference, too.

3. Believe you’re a good writer

I’ve been doing this word herding thing for years.

I know I’m a good writer.

I don’t worry or fret about what my clients will think because I know I’m a good writer and whatever their feedback, I’ll be able to action it.

I don’t let that nagging doubt get in the way of smashing out the words. It’s rare that I miss. A tweak here or there and lately my first drafts have ended up online without a second look from me. The amount of fretting we do does not equate the outcome.

Why bother fretting about the words when I know my clients will be happy? Less fretting helps me become a profitable writer.

I don’t doubt myself. Neither should you.

In situations where I’m writing about an unfamiliar topic, I pay someone to run their eyes over it for me to give me that assurance.

4. Outline outline outline

I rarely, if ever, write a page without an outline.

It’s something I’ve built into my process.

Then when I sit down to write those posts, I can smash them out in about 1-1.5 hours. But my clients pay me for the outcome, not my time. This is one way I’m becoming more profitable.

In my outlines, I include:

  • headline
  • dot points for the introduction
  • heading 2s and 3s
  • bullet points of ideas under each heading
  • the wrap-up
  • the call to action (CTA)

Two things happen when I follow this process.

  1. I fiddle with the structure the order of priority and while I’m doing that…
  2. My subconscious mind writes the thing for me.

Sometimes I’ll share these outlines with clients before I write them to make sure I’m on the right track. This avoids wasting time and helps deliver the content my client wants.

5. Set time limits and be accountable

I run Pomodoro sessions, which are 25-minute work sprints, with my mastermind business buddies.

Apparently, 25 mins is the sweet spot for getting stuff done.

Pom sessions, as we fondly call them, are a great way to keep you and your business besties focused and accountable.

Plus they have the social benefit of being a virtual water cooler. A bit of banter, a problem solved, and we’re all back into it for another 25 minutes.

We meet face-to-face via a video chat tool like Google Meet, Whereby or Zoom. We turn the sound off, but leave the video on.

6. Avoid social media

Last year I tracked all my social media usage and found I was on it 20-25 hours per week. That’s like a solid part-time job.

Once I realised that, I dropped my usage back to something more reasonable, under 10 hours per week. That left me with more hours to create and invoice. Hello, profitability.

Avoiding my phone in the morning helped with that. When I’m super focused, I won’t even check socials until after hours.

But if I need to visit Facebook to check something or round up my business buddies for a pom session, I set an alarm. Facebook is designed to suck us into its vortex. That quick check is lost to 20 minutes of scrolling. Ooops.

7. Ditch the To Do list

Controversial, I know. I hear the intake of breath from here.

If it ain’t scheduled, I ain’t doing it.

Just like I don’t run a notebook for capturing ideas (because if it’s a good idea I’ll remember it – if it’s crap, I won’t nor should I), I don’t run a To Do list.

I used to have notebooks filled with To Do lists of all the ideas for each of my businesses listing all the things I would, could and ‘should’ do… one day.

I’ve killed that that stuff to lighten my mental admin load. And it feels great.

If it’s important, instead of writing it down as a task to tick off a list, I’ll schedule it in my calendar and actually do it.

There’s a massive mental load that comes with carrying infinite to do lists around with us. I’d rather give that energy to something that will make me more profitable.

If a task is important enough, I’ll remember to do it. But otherwise, there’s my calendar spreading out tasks over the week. I know at a glance how much capacity I have (or don’t have) to take on more work.

8. Write faster

I am forever grateful for learning to touch type on a rickety old typewriter in high school. And for my job as a media monitor during my last year of uni. I had to summarise news — radio and TV — for about 9 hours a day, 3 nights per week.

My typing speed jumped from a peckish 40 wpm to more like 100 wpm.

I probably do about 80 wpm these days and 100 wpm when I’m in the zone.

If you’re doubtful you could ever become a fast typist, experiment with dictation software like otter.ai and the dictation function in Google Docs. We speak faster than we type.

I’ll experiment with dictation software over the coming months to see if it improves my writing speed and overall productivity.

9. Junk in = junk out

Y’all are prolly gonna hate this one. No sweetie treats to fuel your day.

I also experimented and found that I work well when I’m a bit hungry. Not hand-shakingly fatigued hungry. But a little hungry.

So, I eat lightly for breakfast and lunch. I don’t snack at all in between meals.

I’ve been doing this for 6 weeks straight. It has improved my focus and output immensely.

On the weekend, I cook a big batch of soup or lentils and eat that for lunch every day. Again, it means less decision making. I don’t mind eating the same thing every day, so long as it’s yummy.

The same junk in= junk out theory applies for what you’re binge-watching or reading.

I haven’t watched commercial TV for years now when I come across it, it’s as irritating as a fly stuck in my ear.

When I lived in Korea, I didn’t watch any TV for about 3 years other than Game of Thrones and the odd series here and there.

I finally succumbed to Netflix earlier this year, and Disney and Amazon Prime, and my reading level dropped off from 1 to 2 books per week to zero per month. Ooops. But I choose my programs judiciously and I’ve since reduced my Netflix time and started reading again.

10. Schedule exercise

If I don’t exercise first thing in the morning, it doesn’t happen at all.

Taking a brisk 30 minute to 1 hour walk is the best thing for my focus and clarity.

I don’t think of it as taking time out of my day.

Even if you do none of the above tips, this trumps it all.

Exercising adds time to your day.

Blaze your own trail to becoming a profitable writer

This is definitely not a list of shoulds. And I don’t do all the things on this list all the time. But the more I do, the more productive and profitable I become.

If your goal is to become a more productive and profitable writer, then I recommend experimenting with what works best for you.

What are your best tips for improving your writing efficiency? Let me know in the comments below.

Sandra


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