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35 Best Ways To Get More Writing Done (In 2021)

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old typewriter - featured image

 

Do you want to learn about the best science-and-art-based ways to get more writing done?

 

In this article, you’ll find thirty-five of them (yeah, that many!)

Once upon a time, I struggled to write 500 words or even write at all. But now I can write up to 5000 words in a single workday.

Would you like to learn my secrets?

If so, check the ideas from the list below. But do not only read them.

Take out your notepad and jot down ones that you’ll implement in your writing routine. Life belongs to the action takers. I know you are one. Now do it!

 

35 Best Ways To Get More Writing Done

 

1. Never start with a blank page

 

Getting rid of the blank page syndrome is the number one way to get more writing done.

Staring at a blank page is a mind-numbing exercise that leads to anxiety and doubt.

That’s why you should always have an outline and at least a few notes ready before you sit down to write.

Once you have the basic idea, and at least a few headings, it’s so much easier to start filling pages with words.

“I have a horror of the blank page. I simply cannot write on a blank page or screen. Because once I do, I start to fix it, and I never get past the first sentence.”

– Charles Krauthammer, political commentator

 

2. Set your writing quota (and stick to it)

 

I can’t overestimate the value of having a writing quota. This is what distinguishes writers who write and get things done, from amateurs who dabble.

If you’re starting, you can set your quota as low as 500 words and increase this number as you gain more skill and confidence. Ernest Hemingway was writing around 500 words a day, so there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

For Stephen King,  it’s 2000 words a day. What’s your number?

 

3. Set writing goals for each week and month

 

Writing goals are essential. They help you to stay on the righteous path of a disciplined writer.

For example, if your quota is 1,000 words, and you write from Monday to Friday, your weekly goal is at 5,000 words. If there are 20 working days within a month, your monthly goal is 20,000 words.

Be relentless about hitting these numbers. However, it’s not about writing 5,000 words in one day, and then nothing on the next day. It’s the regular consistency and steadiness that leads to success.

 

Fun fact:
The orbitofrontal cortex in your brain converts goals into automatic habits via endocannabinoids. You can literally get high on goal achievement, but the only way to do it is by forming and keeping a powerful habit.

 

4. Keep detailed statistics about how much writing you get done

 

Take the word count from within Microsoft Word or Google Docs and include it in an Excel or Google Sheets spreadsheet, right next to today’s date.

Record these stats meticulously, and soon you’ll be crushing it as a writer.

We know from psychology that as humans, we need to be consistent in things that we say and do. That’s why, if you hit your quota for f, you are very likely to do it on the fifth day.

 

Important fact:
What gets measured gets done. And it’s not even about the result. It’s about understanding your patterns of performance so you can improve over time.

 

5. Constantly fertilize your creative mind with powerful ideas

 

It’s hard to get a lot of writing done if there aren’t many original ideas floating around your mind.

I’m always looking for this next creative spark. When it appears, I record it and add it to my “to write next” list. This not only puts writing projects in my pipeline but also allows my subconscious mind to work on these ideas in the meantime.

Then, when it’s time to sit down and write a new piece, my unconscious is already filled with a stronger concept.

Deirdre Barrett has brilliantly described this creativity booster in her book The Committee of Sleep: How Artists, Scientists, and Athletes Use Their Dreams for Creative Problem Solving.

“It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it.”

– John Steinbeck, author, Nobel prize winner for literature

 

 

6. Write first thing in the morning when you still have the willpower

 

If you have a full-time job but want to get some writing done on the side, you should wake up earlier and write for one or two hours.

If you think you’ll have the mental fortitude to write after a full day of work, you’re fooling yourself.

Your mind is at its freshest in the morning (unless you are a night owl), so take advantage of that.

Writing is the hardest thing you are likely to do each day. So do it as soon as you get up. Eat that frog, and the rest of the day will be bliss.

 

Useful fact:
Don’t let the false belief of ego depletion stifle your progress. According to Michael Inzlicht, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, willpower is not a finite resource, but more like emotion, which means you can learn how to control it.

 

7. Eliminate all distractions and lock yourself away from the outside world

 

While reading a gripping book called Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, I quickly spotted a pattern.

All the best writers, painters, musicians, sculptors, and other artists seem to have one thing in common.

It’s the ability to concentrate on the task at hand and eliminate all distractions.

This allows you to enter the state of flow. In many instances, this will enable you almost to double your productivity and do it with ease.

According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the psychologist who coined the term “flow”:

“You know that what you need to do is possible to do, even though difficult, and sense of time disappears, you forget yourself, you feel part of something larger. And once the conditions are present, what you are doing becomes worth doing for its own sake.”

To facilitate flow, turn off your phone and other mobile devices, lock yourself away, and decide to keep on writing until you hit your quota.

 

Strange but useful idea:
Perhaps you will go as far as building your own writer’s cabin. Dylan Thomas, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Henry Thoreau, and many others had one. In a quiet place like this, you can get some serious writing done.

 

8. Write on an empty stomach

 

Have you ever heard about something that scientists call empty stomach intelligence?

Researchers at Yale Medical School found out that hunger causes mice to take in information faster and retain it better. In short, it makes them smarter.

For example, mice were able to find their way out of a maze much quicker when slightly hungry.

All the supporting research suggests that this is true for humans as well.

That’s why when I get up, I do my best to write for two hours before grabbing breakfast. At this time, my mind is calm and clear, and I think straight.

 

Writing tip backed by science:

When your stomach is empty, ghrelin, a hormone produced by your stomach lining binds with the hippocampus (a region of the brain responsible for memory, learning, and analysis)

 

9. Use dictation (speech-to-text) software to maximize your writing productivity

 

A study was conducted at Stanford. Volunteers had to type or speak 100 phrases.

The result was that dictation was three times faster than typing, when accounting for the time it takes to make corrections. In fact, speech-to-text students made 20.4% fewer mistakes than typists.

If you’re looking for an excellent way to get more writing done, look no further.

But it’s not just about dictating on your mobile device. I use dictation software called Dragon Naturally Speaking, which lets me dictate on my computer in any text field with high accuracy.

 

A writing productivity fact:
Since I switched from typing to dictation, my hourly word output increased by around 30%. I also work more ergonomically.

 

10. Always work from an outline to maximize writing speed

 

This may not be fully applicable if you’re working on a short story or a novel.

But it’s definitely true when writing essays, web articles, or works of fiction.

For example, for this article, I first listed the 35 ways. Then I left that draft alone for one day so that the ideas could gestate in my mind for 24 hours or so.

When I came back to put meat on the skeleton, my mind was instantly buzzing with ideas about how I can do it faster and better.

“It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style.”

— Phyllis Dorothy James, bestselling author of crime novels

 

11. Set a timer for your writing sessions to get more done in less time

 

If you’re at all interested in increasing your productivity and getting more writing done, you must have heard about the Pomodoro technique.

Among thousands of productivity hacks you can implement, this is the most useful one of all.

You set your timer for 25 minutes (you may go longer or shorter depending on your preference), and in this period you write like there’s no tomorrow.

This means no phone, no social media, no browsing the web. You can get to these things after you finish your session.

 

The scientific fact that supports the Pomodoro technique:
Taking short breaks regularly helps maintain focus and keep your attention on track. According to Alejandro Lleras, a professor at the University of Illinois: “When faced with long tasks, it is best to impose brief breaks on yourself. Brief mental breaks will actually help you stay focused on your task!”

 

12. Listen to music that awakens your creativity and boosts your productivity

 

There’s a lot of buzz around the link between music and productivity. Everyone seems to have their own opinion on the topic.

Some people love jazz, while others prefer the rhythmical beats of the atmospheric drum and bass. There are also plenty of “superintelligence” tracks on YouTube, and the Mozart Effect, whereby listening to classical music, boosts your levels of productivity.

But ultimately, what’s the best type of music to listen to if you want to write more?

 

The best type of music to listen to is...

The music that you like to listen to the most as long as it doesn’t have any vocals in it. Something with continuous rhythm also seems to work great. Experiment and see what works for you. For me, Baroque music played on clavichord works best for writing.

 

13. Use coffee strategically

 

Many writers drink coffee almost immediately after waking up.

But according to research, this is a terrible idea. According to Steven L. Miller, a researcher at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, when you wake up, your body is already full of cortisol (the stress hormone that also regulates your wakefulness cycle).

When you mix it up with coffee, you are likely to experience extra stress and anxiety.

But when you drink coffee when your cortisol levels are lower, you can get all the benefits of caffeine without the jitters.

If you wake up at around 6:30 AM, your cortisol levels will peak between 8 AM and 9 AM. That’s why it’s best to drink your first cup just after 9 AM.

 

Extra caffeine hack:

Drink your coffee from a thermal tumbler.  This will keep your coffee warm, but it will also let you slowly sip on it for more than one hour. This steady stream of productivity ambrosia will keep you writing like a machine.

 

14. Be super knowledgeable about the topic you are writing about

 

This piece of advice is evident, but many writers don’t take it to heart.

The more you specialize in a given topic, the more you can write about it, and faster.

That’s why before sitting down to write, you should read at least a couple of articles on the topic and look up the most interesting statistics.

This will help you to write so much faster than if you were simply trying to “write as you go” and pulling your ideas out of a hat.

 

The curse of knowledge

It’s a common cognitive bias among writers, so be aware of it. It’s when you know so much about a given topic that you assume that others know about it as well.

That’s why you need to back up a bit and look at your topic from a beginner’s perspective.

 

15. Simply start writing whatever comes to your mind first (warm up your creative engine)

 

Recently I was listening to Tim Ferris podcast episode with Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist at Wharton.

He said something that stuck in my mind. Before starting his writing sessions, he opens his email and blasts off a few messages.

He says it helps him to get his creative juices flowing. Then when he sits down to write books and academic papers, his inner writer is already warmed up.

This is a counterintuitive approach, but you may want to give it a try.

 

A great quote from the interview that’s so relevant to writers:
“When you feel like you’re not productive, it’s not necessarily because you’re lazy or because you have bad habits, it’s because you’re not working on the right projects and you haven’t found the ones that are intrinsically motivating and meaningful to you.”

 

16. Ask for the blessing of your Muse

 

The first lines of Homer’s Odyssey (in Fitzgerald’s translation) go like this:

“Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story

of that man skilled in all ways of contending,

the wanderer, harried for years on end,

after he plundered the stronghold

on the proud height of Troy.”

Be humble and ask for inspiration before starting your writing session. You may as well receive it.

 

17. Write on your mobile device during downtime, or while commuting and traveling

 

We waste so much time mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds, and watching uninspiring YouTube videos.

How about making a decision that you will turn your commuting time into writing time?

Over 20 minutes, you can quickly write 400 to 500 words on your phone.

 

Pro Tip:

Simply install Google Docs, and do your best to finish what you’ve already started at home.

It will all be synced up in real-time, so you should take advantage of that.

You can also use dictation to get the words down on the screen three times faster than if you were typing.

 

18. Do not pay heed to the quality of your first draft

 

According to Hemingway, “the first draft of anything is shit.”

There is a bit of truth in that statement.

That’s why you shouldn’t take your first draft seriously.

It’s a rough sketch. Think of it as a masterpiece in the making.

It’s never going to be perfect, but you can make it much better after two or three editing sessions.

 

Extra writing tip:
If you want to get more writing done, never try to edit while scribbling your first draft. Just type away as fast as you can. You’ll take care of editing later.

“Be willing to write really badly.”

— Jennifer Egan, novelist, Pulitzer Prize winner

 

19. Read, read, read

 

“Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.”

— Eudora Welty, author, Pulitzer Prize winner

 

20. Wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day

 

This is one of the critical productivity rules of pro writers.

Yes, there are some creative geniuses that type long into the night while emptying the second bottle of Bordeaux.

But these people are not the most prolific writers.

If you want to turbocharge your productivity, you’ll do much better by waking up and going to sleep at the same time every day.

 

Advantages of establishing a healthy sleeping pattern:

This will stabilize your circadian rhythm and fill you with much more creative energy.

Other benefits of waking up at the same time each day include having a brighter mood, sharper focus, improved alertness, and reduced caffeine dependence.

 

21. Reward yourself for a completed writing session

 

The carrot on a stick approach has been circling psychological journals for years.

Our internal reward system is what prompts us to do everything in our life. Writing is no different.

Keeping your writing quota is a reward in and of itself. But you can further boost the positive reinforcement cycle, by giving yourself a small prize for a completed writing session.

It might be a short walk in nature, indulging in your favorite dessert, or reading a new book for thirty minutes, before coming back to work.

Use what works best for you and refrain from indulging before you accomplish your writing goal. Pretty soon, your subconscious mind will be programmed to seek the reward.

 

22. Stay at your writing task until it’s done (compulsion to closure)

 

I’ve learned this from Brian Tracy, a famous motivational speaker, and successful researcher.

He found out that the most successful people in our society not only work with a sense of urgency but also have an urge to complete.

It’s a quality where you force yourself to finish what you’ve started, as you don’t stop until the job is done.

This kind of mindset is crucial for a problematic mental task such as writing.

If you write a few hundred words and start fooling around, but your quota is 1000 words, your mind is likely to give way to procrastination.

What you should do instead is to stay at it until it’s done.

 

23. Dictate while you take a walk outside

 

I’ve learned this one from Joanna Penn, who wrote over 30 books, many of which have become bestsellers.

Joanna has wrist pain, which prevents her from writing on her keyboard.

So instead, she’s using an app called Dragon Anywhere (it’s $15 per month), to dictate a lot of her work while taking a stroll in nature.

This is a fantastic idea that can help you write more.

Plus, it’s going to keep you fit and ready for the next work session.

 

The link between walking and productivity:
According to the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, taking a 30-minute walk during lunch, made research subjects feel less tense, more enthusiastic, more relaxed, and better able to cope with office workload.

 

24. Learn more about the craft of writing

 

Writing is an art, but it’s also a craft.

From the etymology dictionary, we learn that the word craft comes from Old English, where it meant “skill, dexterity, art, science, talent” (via a notion of “mental power”).

It led by late Old English to the meaning “trade, handicraft, employment requiring special skill or dexterity”.

If you accept this definition, you can think of writing as something you can get better at.

Even reading this article helps you get better, but there are many more resources you can draw from.

You can start by checking out my list of 20 best books about writing full-time.

 

25. Hire a freelance proofreader or editor (or both)

 

You won’t believe how much difference it can make in your productivity.

Now you can focus on writing, which is the hardest part of the process, and outsource much of the rest.

After all, it’s not only about getting more writing done but also about being able to have a finished piece of prose ready for publishing.

 

26. Use a faster and better keyboard for writing

 

The gear you use for writing can make a tremendous difference in your productivity.

You may be using an old keyboard you had for many years without realizing that technology moved forward.

Now you can get an ergonomic keyboard with fantastic tactile feedback that will tremendously boost your WPM (words per minute) ratings.

Then, if you use speech-to-text software, you may want to invest in a better microphone so that the accuracy of speech recognition is even higher.

You can check on a list of some of the top laptops for writers here, and the best keyboards here.

 

“It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer.”

— Gerald Brenan, English author, and renowned Hispanist

 

27. Create a writing space for yourself (prime your subconscious mind for productivity)

 

I mentioned writing cabins in the middle of the woods before, and you don’t have to go as far as that.

You should have a sacred space that will inspire you to do your best work.

It will act as a psychological trigger, so then when you sit down, you will be already primed for productivity.

Minimalistic design works best, but you may throw in a few plants because they will calm your mind.

 

28. Silence your inner critic

 

Each artist experiences self-doubt at one point or the other.

First of all, notice that this is entirely natural. We all sometimes feel that our work is trash and that no one is going to like it.

But being a happy writer is about recognizing that it’s not only you and your fragile ego.

Some people are waiting for what you have to say, as they can’t get enough of it.

Keep these people in mind before you begin your next writing adventure. Do it for them.

 

29. Develop a definite purpose behind your writing

 

This point is connected to the previous one. To silence your ego, you have to step beyond the confines of your small world and look outward.

How will your writing affect other people? What new knowledge and ideas can you bring to the world that will inspire others to change and take purposeful action?

 

“He who has a WHY to live for can bear almost any HOW.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher, composer, poet, and scholar

 

You should keep this in mind and develop a strong “why.”

 

30. Write only in a specific time slot during the day (or evening)

 

The more structured your work sessions are, the more productive you will be.

I write every day from around 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM. That’s when I do my best work.

But most of the time, keeping a strict schedule will help you stay on track over the long-term.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

— Benjamin Franklin, one of USA’s founding fathers, writer, philosopher, scientist, inventor, statesman, and diplomat.

 

31. Never finish the last paragraph or even the sentence of your writing session

 

Ernest Hemingway famously stopped his sessions mid-sentence.

This primed his subconscious mind to continue working while he was away from the typewriter.

The majority of successful writers use this technique in one way or the other.

You can finish while in the middle of a paragraph or chapter as well.

That’s because it’s so much easier to pick your work up in the middle and get back to a creative flow.

 

32. Develop a system for capturing your creative ideas

 

Don’t ever let an innovative idea slip through your mind like sand through the palm of your hand.

As a writer, it’s crucial to have a system for capturing these subtle glimpses of creative inspiration.

As you know, they happen unexpectedly. It might be on your way back home after an engrossing scene of the cinema, or meeting with friends that the Muse whispers her secrets to you.

Either keep a small notepad where you’ll write down these ideas.

 

Pro Tip:
Install an app on your phone, such as Google Keep or Evernote, that will serve not only as a treasure trove of artistic ideas but also as an extensive research database.

 

33. Keep track of your writing habit

 

The closer you track your progress, the more progress you will make.

I already mentioned the value of setting specific goals, setting your writing quota, and sticking to it.

But there is another thing that enabled me to get much more writing done. It’s called habit tracking.

I have an app on my phone called “Habits,” which sends me a notification every workday in the afternoon.

The question is: “did you write at least 2,500 thousand words today?”

I proudly check it as “yes” to boost my self-esteem, but I’m also able to track the habit across weeks and months.

This gives me a far better overview of the circumstances in which I get most writing down.

 

34. Improve your typing speed (learn touch typing)

 

This is an obvious one, but it shouldn’t be underestimated.

If you want to improve your yield of verbiage, it pays big to learn how to type faster.

There are various computer programs such as Typing Instructor Platinum, that will teach you how to type at a fast pace without even looking at your keyboard.

I took a course like this years ago, and it was worth it. Within three or four weeks, I had the skill down, and now it still serves me after all these years.

 

35. Work on projects that fill you with excitement

 

This tip might be the most important of all.

There is nothing worse than sitting down to write something boring and tedious that you feel has no value.

If you’re in a situation like this, get out of it as soon as you can.

 

Pro Tip:

Remember – you pick your projects and your clients, so work on things you are passionate about.

This quality will be reflected in the way you write, and your audience will feel it.

This is also one of the reasons why I started this blog. Now I can write about stuff I love, and I have full editorial independence.

 

Are you ready to blow it up as a writer?

 

Getting more writing done every day is the single thing that will lead to long-term success for any type of writer.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a novelist, a blog creator, a copywriter, an essayist, or a short story writer. If you write 1000 to 3000 words a day, you are going to make it. It’s just a matter of time.

I do hope that the methods presented above filled you with creative inspiration.

There’s a lot of self-discipline necessary, but the results are tremendous.

Now start putting in the necessary work and make your dreams come true. I know you can.

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