As a freelance writer, the more you write and publish, the more you get paid. It is not uncommon to have a few days that you just do not know where to start or have zero motivation to push through.
These four things are non-negotiables for me if I wish to keep up my writing productivity.
I know this is a no-brainer, but I also know that many of us try to fit way too much on our plates. I was constantly trying to fit assignments in before I went to bed. I would be up until two or three in the morning trying to make deadlines. The problem is that my kids were consistent with waking up at six a.m. That meant I was only expecting myself to run my household on a thread. It wasn’t pretty, and even worse, my writing suffered for it.
Now, I try to go to bed at 9-10 p.m. and wake up at five a.m. This only gives me about an hour to write, but I am going to guess I get more done writing one hour with a fresh brain than two to three hours writing with a tired one. If I do have a lot to get done, I will try to fall asleep around 7 or 8 p.m. and then try to wake up at 2 or 3 a.m. and work. Usually, this works a few times a month, and I find that I get a lot done fully rested, with a quiet house.
See also: Land Your First Writing Gig
2. Synced Technology
I cannot be attached to my laptop every hour of the day, but there are so many pockets of time to write. For example, if I am driving without kids, that is an opportunity to record myself, which can later be downloaded to speech through Dragon Dictate or by hiring an affordable transcriber. While waiting in line at the grocery store, I have also been able to type out 300 words for a piece. I have even written several pieces of articles while in the bathroom.
The only way this works is if you can sync all of your technology. You can do this the free and easy way, through using Google Documents. You can even use apps like Evernote.
3. Word/ Hour Tracker
“You can never improve what you do not measure.” Michael Hyatt says that often on his podcasts, and it is true for all types of writers. Word trackers are also helpful to find which times are best for your productivity. For example, my prime writing time is between 9 a.m.-1 p.m. I find it easy to get in the flow and can soar through my work schedule.
On the flip side, if I try to write at 6:30 or 7:00 p.m., after the kids are in bed, it usually takes me twice as long. Measuring your word count and time you work can help you see which productive times you need to capitalize on, which times to avoid, and if there are any patterns between your word counts and daily habits. For example, if you write a million words after a short workout and protein-filled breakfast one day, but have a hard time cranking out the words the next day after a heavy pancake breakfast, you have found an important productivity key that works for you.
Rachel Aaron is a fiction writer and blogger who went from writing 2,000 words to 10,000 words a day by tracking her progress and tweaking her routine. If you have not read her book, 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love, I highly recommend it. It is a fast read, and one of my favorites from a true insider.
I am not the best at sticking with my diet and exercise routine, but when I do, it makes a huge difference in my mood and writing. I regularly take SuperMom Vitamins by Beeyoutiful. Yes, the name is cheesy and it is pricey up front. However, the bottle is a three-month supply. I discovered the pills two years ago when I was asking for advice about tiredness and energy, and many other moms (most who had 5+ kids) pointed me to these pills.
The difference in my energy levels and mental clarity is amazing. I know it is because the vitamins have iron and magnesium in them, which I am usually low on, as well as Spirulina and green tea extract which boost my energy and stamina. I take these pills in the morning, and I usually can get everything I need to get done for the day (i.e. clean house, take care of kids, writing work, and more) without needing a nap.
When you write for a living (or a side-hustle), there is just no room for unproductive habits. I absolutely love writing, but I want to do it efficiently and for only a few hours a day so that I can give my girls my attention and absolute best.