Efficient Writing, Effective Work Habits

Jamie and I have a fiction novel in the works. Lately, it’s been a topic of conversation. We have the story, the characters, and most of the novel written, the only thing we lack is the time to sit down to edit the novel properly and put it all together. Something else always pops up to take priority, and The Project is set aside for slow times.

But slow times never come. During downtime, we catch up on other things, like site maintenance, accounting, and personal errands.

I came across some advice on novel writing by Crawford Kilian. The site is unattractive and I almost surfed right by, but it did seem to have useful information. Right at the top of Kilian’s list was an article on “Developing Efficient Work Habits”.

Here are some of Crawford’s tips for maximizing writing work habits:

  • Create a Routine: The biggest and most difficult challenge is setting aside a certain time of day every day to focus and write. Most of us who write for a living find this especially difficult, since all we do during the day is write. Do it anyway. After the first couple of weeks, it will become as much a habit as entering your accounting information at the end of the day.
  • Minimize Distractions: For me, a cluttered desk, curious cats, and no music playing in the background are distractions. Some households have family and unexpected guests to deal with. Do your best to let people know this is your time to work and you can’t be disturbed.
  • Controlled Daydreaming: I used to believe that my habit of doing other things (like housework, working on the bike, or fiddling with a new website design) when I should be working was a form of procrastination. Turns out, this habit is controlled daydreaming. I can focus on the creative problems I’m having with any given writing project, like mental multi-tasking. Let your mind wander and see where it takes you.
  • Beware of Empty Praise or Destructive Criticism: Friends, spouses, family, and roommates are often the people we turn to for a quick, “What do you think of this,” but these people are also the worst source for an objective opinion. They’ll either yes you to death or give a raw opinion which could ultimately prove to be disastrous.
  • Open Your Avenues Of Opportunity: Don’t get stuck in a rut where you can’t write unless your desk is completely clean or there is no one in the house or (like me), only writing late at night when the rest of the world has gone to bed. Take advantage of downtime throughout your day. Need to do laundry? Okay, put in a load and then go write until the buzzer on the washer sounds. Baby’s naptime? Time for you to write.

These are just a few ideas to help keep on track with a writing project. What do you do to make your own work time more efficient?

Post by Agent X

Agent X is the name many mysterious and intriguing people take on when they guest post at our site. Their mission is to slip in like a thief in the night, leave you with entertaining, valuable and useful content, and slip away again - without getting caught.