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3 Tips to Help Increase Writing Output


 By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

One of the questions I’m asked a lot lately is how I manage to write as many books as I do. This year I have four books releasing. I’m on track to have four books release next year as well.

If all an author needed to do was write the first draft and send it off, four books would perhaps be an easy feat. But we all know that an author is tasked with the responsibility of writing more than just a first draft and being done.

I generally do at least four sets of edits per book including a final read-through to catch typos and last mistakes. With four books published in a year, that means a total of sixteen different edits.

In addition to the writing and editing, of course there’s also the marketing for four books. Sharing all that I do to market my books would take an entire post in itself!

Of course, there are a myriad of other details that we as authors must attend to on a daily basis: social media, emails with readers, communication with industry professionals, blog posts, etc. And if you’re especially insane like I am, you also add on other projects like getting reversion of audio rights on old books and using the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) to indie publish on Audible.

With all of the work involved in editing and marketing books, how in the world can an author possibly write one book a year much less four?

As I thought about what I do to remain a prolific writer in the midst of all the other responsibilities of being an author, I realized that three things help me:

1. Have Iron-Clad Self-Discipline. 

I’m crazy self-disciplined. It doesn’t matter if the world is crashing down around me, I make myself write six days a week. Healthy or sick. Well-rested or tired. Happy or depressed. Calm or chaos. When I’m writing a first draft I make myself write without fail.

I also ignore the internet. It takes a lot of self-discipline not to respond to facebook messages or emails until later in the day. But I’ve learned that it’s all still waiting for me when I’m done with my day’s writing. My writing has to take priority over the other aspects of the job, because ultimately it’s my stories that keep me in business, not social media.

2. Set and Stick to Goals.

I usually determine how much time I have to write the book based on deadlines. For example if I have two months, then I break that down into how many words a week I need to write in order to finish the book in eight weeks.

If I have editing projects that need my attention while I’m in the middle of writing a book, I usually work on those after I finish my daily word count goals. The only time I set aside first draft goals completely is when I work on a content/macro edit. Otherwise, I stick to my lofty goals to the best of my human ability.

3. Open Creativity Through Writing Sprints. 

When I sit down to write for the day, I usually start by reading a page or two of what I wrote the day before. I edit a little bit but mostly the reading is to get myself back into the story flow.

Once I’m acclimated, I set mini deadlines for writing sprints. I use a sticky note and write down two things: how many words I plan to write and the time deadline. For example I may give myself the goal of 400 words in thirty minutes. Once I reach that thirty minutes, I give myself another mini-deadline.

What I find is that these writing sprints force me to ignore my internal editor and just write. Some days I do better at it than others, but overall such sprints force me to focus on the STORY rather than get side-tracked by smaller details that often hang writers up and slow them down.

What about YOU? How do you maintain a steady writing output? What helps you to keep writing? We would love to hear your tips and tricks!

60 comments:

  1. great tips, wish i could follow at least one of them

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  2. I have a looming deadline and I'm really behind (not from slacking, either! Just the opposite). You've encouraged me today. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. You got me going this morning. My routine was broken up today which had me surfing rather than writing. Now I'm not going to waste the hour I have left. Thx.

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  4. Helpful and inspiring tips, thanks Jody.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great tips - I've found shutting off the internet all together really helps me focus!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow, eight books in two years! Good for you! You're very prolific. I must confess that the Internet distracts me way too much. If I used a typewriter instead (and didn't have my cell phone to distract me either), I'd get a lot more done.

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  7. I'm going to try your writing sprints. Great idea!

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  8. Great points. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Great post. Thanks! My timer is my work buddy =)

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  11. I've been 'sprint' writing for 18 months on the same book. I guess I spend too much time reading about self-discipline?

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  12. Really good article. I'll surely practice all these and work on my time management also. :) Thanks

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  13. A bit self-exploiting tips, but you know, maybe they work

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  15. These are excellent tips, Jody, Thanks for the encouragement. :)

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  17. Great tips. I'm like everyone else -- I know how to be more productive but my couch is really comfy and Netflix is a tempting tempting temptress

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  19. I think Mini deadline can affect your content or thoughts because when you set a goal to complete this job ASAP then maybe you was just thinking to finish not quality work...!!! Think about it. According to me writer need free mind mean relax for going inside the story. If you think you need any kind of writing help then let me know I will be glad to talk to you...!!!

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  20. Having Iron-Clad self discipline is easier said than done. One way to help with that is by making lists, setting timers and then asking what is most important to yourself. Thanks for sharing, Jodi.

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