5 Ways to Write More in Less Time

Your best marketing strategy is to give readers more of what they want: great books! Today it’s time to activate your writer superpowers and narrow down the five things you can do to write more in less time.

1. Write in Timed Sprints
Timed sprints (15-25 minutes with short breaks between are most effective) have multiple benefits to you as a writer. Not only do they focus your time on writing but they also help you to track how much time it takes you to do something. Use an online timer to track time and use a progress tracker to record out how much time you are spending on a project. Once you know how much time something takes, you can further streamline your process.

If peer pressure works for you, you can find other writers sprinting on Twitter with the hashtag #writingsprint. I sprint a few times a week so join me on Twitter to get in on the action.

2. Schedule Your Writing Time

Whether you have 15 minutes a day to write or 5 hours, schedule your writing time and guard it like Hagrid’s three-headed dog, Fluffy, would. Showing up to the page is one of the most critical steps for a writer but often the hardest to accomplish. So move writing to the top of your to-do list (even before book promotion and definitely before you hop on Twitter or Facebook!)

3. Plan What You are Going to Write

Whether you are a plotter or a pantser, sit down at the beginning of your writing session and map out what you are going to write about. Just a few quick sentences about the who, what and why of your scene or chapter give you a headstart on spotting potential issues before you’ve put a few thousand words on the page.

This will pay off big time when it comes to the editing phase of your novel. Your scenes will be more focused, character arcs and motivation will be clearer and you’ll have less revision to do before submitting it to your beta readers or editor.

4. Use Scrivener to Write Your Novel
Scrivener really deserves it’s own time saving list because it offers a host of tools to help you write faster. It will streamline your writing process no matter what kind of writer you are.

Plotter? You can outline hierarchically or use index cards on a virtual corkboard. Your outline and/or cards transfer seamlessly into the Binder where you write your novel. So there is no gap between planning and writing.

Pantser? If you prefer to wing it with your writing, you can write your novel straight through and break it into chapters later. Or if you want to jump around, you can add scenes as they come to you and re-order them when the mood strikes you.

You can color code your scenes by POV and see how your novel is playing out at a glance. Scrivener holds all of your research, character info and setting worksheets in one place. No additional documents, windows or searching your hard drive for your notes. You can even import pictures and place them on index cards. Want to write distraction free? You can block out the virtual world with full screen mode

And when you are ready to publish, exporting to Kindle or epub is a breeze. You can give Scrivener a try in the Author Toolkit which comes with a guide to get you started and an import your current WIP if you have one.

5. Implement One of the Four Ideas Above by Friday
Because even the best list of tips won’t do anything for you unless you sit down and put them to work, pick one of these tasks to try by this Friday. (You can let me know how it goes by replying to this email!)

I’ve organized this list with the easier tasks at the top so start there and work your way down.

The Biggest Mistake Book Promotion Mistake You Can Make

Self publishing is hard work. Being a one person writing-editing-formatting-promotion department can be overwhelming on the best day. When your to-do list starts to get way too long, it’s all too easy to bail on promotion tasks.

When it comes to book promotion, the biggest mistake you can make is to do nothing at all.

But with all the advice out there, how do you know what to do?

The honest answer? It doesn’t matter as long as you do something.

If you only have 5 minutes, hop on Twitter and sent a tweet. Then find 5 readers and follow them. (Hint: find another author who writes in the same genre as you and follow their followers.)

Only 15 minutes? Head over to Facebook and update your fans. Ask a question to engage your readers or share a photo. Facebook is a great place to keep fans updated on the progress of your latest book. (Even if you only have a few fans, do it anyway! When  a new fan stumbles onto your page, they’ll have good reason to like it.)

Have 30 minutes? Write up a quick post for your blog. Shorter content is great for short online attention spans. Share a great link, a book or even a picture. (Caption that photo! Captions are the most read text on your site.) To make writing blog posts faster, keep a running list of topics in Evernote or a Word file so you don’t have spend time thinking up a great idea.

If you’ve got more than 30 minutes set aside for marketing tasks, you can do all three of the above tasks and then check out the Self Publishing Toolkit Online for even more ideas!

Productivity

davidseah-progress-trackerLawrence Kasdan said ‘being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.

For self publishers this even more true–not only are we constantly writing but we’re on Twitter or Facebook or Goodreads connecting with readers and promoting our books.

I’ve been doing a lot of productivity research lately, mostly listening to podcasts because I can do that while cleaning or folding laundry.  I’ve learned a lot, particularly that an author is only as good as her tools!

Using software like Scrivener or Hootsuite can really help with writing and managing social media but only if you use them! Unfortunately using them is the hard part. I’ve tried a lot of to-do list software while excellent and somewhat fun to use, they didn’t work for me.

‘Write Book’ was way too big of an item for me (even when broken down into word count goals) because it was mixed in with the laundry, dinner and helping my kids with their homework.

Enter the Progress Tracker

I found something that works better: The Task Progress Tracker.

This is basically a worksheet created by David Seah that breaks a big job down into small pieces and then lets you track your time spent on each project. When you’ve completed a project, you’ll also know how much time you spent on it which helps you plan better for the future–so double bonus there!

Here’s how I use it:

1. Print out a worksheet and staple it to a folder. I keep all associated materials to the project in the folder.

2. Then I take my book outline and transfer each chapter to a line. Alternatively, you could use this to track how much time you are spending on Social Media or book promotion. Showing up on Twitter and Facebook is half the battle!

3. Use Online Stopwatch to time 15 minute increments of work on a project. (You can do anything for 15 minutes!)

Not only does this make me a better planner, on days when my only option is to grab 15 minutes, I get the stuff that needs doing done.

Do you have any productivity tools that help you to focus?