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How to Write More in Less Time

Photo of a young woman wearing a smartwatch using a laptop computer; it looks like she is at an outdoor cafe, and there is a coffee cup on the table too.
Are distractions, bad timing, and lack of planning sabotaging your writing? Learn how to write more with these tips. (Photo: ammentorp)

Have you ever promised yourself that you would achieve a writing goal in a certain amount of time, and then just…didn’t?

Whether you’re trying for the ambitious 1,000 words in 20 minutes or the more realistic two paragraphs in 10 minutes, we all know how it feels to stare at a blank Word document for minutes on end, clueless about what to do.

Between distracting notifications and waiting for inspiration to strike, writer’s block affects even the best writers every once in a while.

So what can you do about it?

If you’re curious about how to write more in less time, you need to create a good workflow setup that helps you stay focused. Here are some tips on how to do just that.

How to Write More With Fewer Distractions

It’s no secret that distractions can take away from your productivity, but what you may not realize is how many things can count as a distraction while you’re trying to write. The following are a few things you can do to reduce distractions from all directions.

Clean Up Your Workspace

Do you have piles of random stuff on your desk?

Here’s a wake-up call: It’s not always a sure sign of creativity.

In fact, it can prevent you from focusing on your ideas. A clutter-free workspace prevents your eyes from straying from the screen and eliminates at least one major procrastination habit—the urge to interrupt your writing to clean up your desk or workspace.

Find a Comfortable Position

Good workspace ergonomics don’t just reduce work-related injuries; they also focus your attention on the writing task at hand.

Make sure your chair is comfortable, your hands rest easily at your keyboard, and you can easily see your screen without leaning into it.

Minimizing the chance of nagging physical discomforts will keep you from messing around with your chair height or spending 30 minutes researching whether yoga can help your lower back.

Set Aside Time and Space

Have you ever been distracted by someone working in the same room as you?

Perhaps they’re not even working and just want to hang out or need your help. It’s tough to stay focused when other people are around.

If you can, set aside a specific time and space for writing. Let your family, friends, and co-workers know that during this time, they shouldn’t disturb you—unless it’s an emergency.

Establish the Right Ambiance With Sound

Some people need absolute quiet to work, while others need music playing or else they go crazy.

Whether you fall on either extreme or lean more toward the middle, make sure the sounds in your workspace are conducive to writing. Let others know to keep quiet for a few hours, use noise-blocking headphones, play white or pink noise, or, if it’s what you need, listen to some classical music.

Stop Multitasking

You might think that multitasking makes you more productive because you’re working on more than one thing at once. But with something that requires as much of your attention as writing, it often amounts to trying to do two things and doing both poorly.

As tempting as it can be, hold off on multitasking. Instead, focus entirely on writing for a set amount of time (say, 20 minutes or an hour), then go do your other task. I promise it will help you get both done better and faster than trying to do both at once.

And if you ever want help with editing to speed up your turnaround time, reach out to us here at Super Copy Editors. With a full team of expert editors and proofreaders, we can revise your writing while you work on other important tasks. Learn more here.

Try Reading Glasses

Don’t need glasses? You could still benefit from them. Low-powered reading glasses may keep your eyes focused at a short range and minimize your peripheral vision, thus muting any visual distractions. Try a pair at around +1.00 and see what you think.

Photo of a stressed woman who is holding her hands to her forehead as if she has a headache, and there are yellow Post-It notes all over her laptop and the chair she is sitting on.
When you’re writing, stick to one thing: writing. (Photo: kzenon)

How to Write More by Getting Your Workflow in Order

While minimizing distractions is important, it’s pretty much useless if you don’t know what you’re actually writing about or if you’re just not inspired. That’s why it’s important to clearly define your goals and not work against yourself by using the tips below.

Know What You Want to Write About

If you have a task or assignment, like “Write a report on X,” it may sound easy in theory. Then, when you open your writing software, you suddenly realize you have no idea what your argument or main point should be.

That’s why it’s important to brainstorm beforehand and develop a solid idea of what you’re writing about. You can write an outline or just have one in your head, but either way, you should know what you’re trying to say before you start saying it.

Focus Your Topic

Now that you have some ideas on what you’re writing about, zero in on them.

Is your outline a bunch of general topics, or are they things you can really dive deep into? Revise it at your discretion, and choose writing topics that aren’t so overly wide that they require you to stop and think about “what if” when you want to be nailing “what is.”

Write When You Are Most Productive

You may have heard that productive people always work early in the morning, creative people are night owls, or that creativity surges after your post-lunch blood sugar rise.

Whatever you’ve heard, throw it in the trash and think about what actually works for you.

Notice the times of the day when you tend to produce the optimal mix of quality and quantity. Then, try to write during those times, and don’t force a schedule on yourself that doesn’t play to your strengths.

Just Write!

Forget about spell-checking, grammatical errors, or how sentences flow. Just get the words down. Write nonstop until you’ve covered all your major ideas.

Resist the urge to stop and read what you’re writing—it’ll only slow you down. Many writers will tell you that the magic lies in the editing and rewriting stage, and they’re right.

Focus on getting the words out, then worry about making it make sense later.

Be Prepared for Hiccups

If you’ve completed all the research and have an outline (whether mental or on paper), you should know what you want to say and you should be able to write that out quickly. If the words still don’t come, it could be your mind’s way of suggesting that you’re not quite ready to write. Of course, you can still choose to write—just be prepared to sacrifice speed.

Writing isn’t an exact science, and many of the best writers have ideas morph halfway through their project. Be open to flexible ideas, deadlines, and strategies.

Practice

Writing, like anything else, gets better with practice. People don’t run marathons after being on the couch for two years.

Condition yourself to being a writer by writing every day, and it’ll slowly get easier.

Final Thoughts on How to Write More

Staying motivated and inspired enough to get your writing done can be tricky, but with these tips, I hope I’ve helped make it a bit easier for you to write more in less time.

And if you ever want assistance with editing and revising, contact us at Super Copy Editors. With years of experience helping writers craft compelling pieces, we know how to work with you to get your message across effectively. To get a quote for our editing and proofreading services, click this link.

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Dave Baker

View posts by Dave Baker
Hi, I’m Dave Baker, founder and copy chief of Super Copy Editors. I have more than 25 years of professional proofreading and copy editing experience, including work for The Nation magazine, The New York Times, and The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, where I shared two staff Pulitzer Prizes. At Super Copy Editors, we’re passionate about helping agencies, marketing teams, and education companies refine and polish their text to give them confidence and ensure success. Learn more here.

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