Monday, June 4, 2018

Increase Your Writing Productivity by Finding More Time to Write

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I had always believed that I needed at least an hour, and preferably three, to make any progress at all with my writing. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The truth is, those small bits and pieces of time we all have add up to a lot. And wasting them can severely hamper our ability to meet deadlines and find success. 

Over the years, I’ve learned how to use the time I have, even if it’s just ten minutes. Today I want to share the specific things I do to help increase my productivity when long stretches of writing time just aren't possible.

Tips for Finding Time to Write

1. Decide to use what you’ve got. This is the biggest part of the puzzle. If you wait for perfect circumstances, chances are you’ll never finish your book. Truthfully, things rarely line up. When they do—celebrate! When they don’t—just decide to work harder.

2. Do your pre-work. There are a couple of things I recommend you do before you start writing in those short bits of time. AND they can also be done in bits and pieces.
  • Have a road map of where your book is going. I’ve learned that I work better from a scene map (a list of all the scenes I want to include in my book). You may not have something that detailed. But you should know what you want to write about next. After you finish a scene, before you get up, make a couple of notes about where you want to go from there.
  • Have a foundation of research to build on. I take a few weeks, before I start writing, to do my research and compile my notes.
3. Don’t overthink what you’re writing. Sometimes you’ve got to write junk before you can get to the good stuff. Beyond that, the only thing you can’t fix is an empty page. So put some words on the page and keep moving forward.

4. When you’re writing your first draft, don’t stop to research. When I only have fifteen minutes, I could waste all of it, looking up a fact I need to know. When I come to something I need, I make a note and keep writing. I can look it up after my first draft is done and I begin editing.

5. If you’re working on revisions, make a list . . . actually, make several. Make a list of things you need to look up. Also make a list of scenes you need to add. By making these lists you have a roadmap for your revisions and you don’t have to waste time figuring out what to do next.

These are all great tips if you’re writing a book, but what if it’s an article or something small that you’re working on? Take the principles I’ve outlined and structure your writing time, no matter what you’re working on.

Most of all, learning to work in the bits and pieces of time that life sometimes throws us takes practice. When I first started, I spent a lot of time frustrated because what I was writing didn’t measure up. But within just a couple of weeks, my frustration lessoned and productivity increased—exponentially. 

Don’t assume you can’t work this way. I did, and I lost years of productivity. Instead, take a chance and learn how to keep moving forward.

Now I’d love to find out what tips do you have to work in less than ideal circumstances.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. Thanks Edie. The day is never going to be longer, so use what you have wisely. A couple of fifteen or thirty minute blocks can work. And between times your subconscious will be at work. Happy writing.

    1. Tim, that'll preach - "The day is never going to be longer, so use what you have wisely." You should make a meme out of that! Blessings, E

  2. Great tips! Tip #4 is useful against writer's block.

    1. Ingmar, you're so right! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Blessings, E

  3. Thank you for the tips, Edie.

  4. Thanks for the tips! Especially the road map and lists of needed revisions. I've always felt I needed a big block of time to get my brain in gear to write, but these are good ways to make progress in spare moments.

  5. Great tips, Edie. I learned years ago to keep a stack of Post-Its handy. When I'm at the day job or in a grocery store, I can jot a quick idea or quote. Then when I'm in front of my laptop, I can key in the missing details. This has helped when I'm away from my project and suddenly realize a character trait or perhaps a song encourages a scene. Plus, it's fun to look back on my notes during the editing process to make sure I covered everything.

  6. Thanks Edie! I keep my phone handy for ideas and dictate them into my "notes" app.