Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Simplify Your Writing Life with These 10 Tips

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

So often we make things harder than they have to be. Sometimes we do it because we’re used to doing things a certain way, or because it’s the only way we know how. But things change quickly these days, and it’s always a good thing to take a look at your routine with a fresh eye. 

Today I’m going to share some tips to streamline your writing life. Some you may already do, some you may not have ever considered. Just take a look at the list with an open mind and see if there’s anything on it that can make your life easier.

Simplify Your Writing Life
1. Take a look at your goals. It’s important to have goals—and it’s important to have written goals. It’s easy to just float along, taking things as they come. But when we do that, it’s hard to make progress—and it’s even harder to evaluate progress. Beyond that, there’s something almost magical about writing down your goals. Having them recorded somewhere gives them weight and makes it easier to make them a priority.

2. Evaluate how much time you’re spending on social media. If it’s more than thirty minutes a day, it’s time to re-evaluate. After thirty minutes, your return on investment takes a severe nosedive in the downward direction. 

3. Let go of your expectations. No this isn’t  a contradiction of #1 above. There is a huge difference between goals and expectations. I bet if you’re honest with yourself you have quite a few expectations—from what you expect from yourself, to what you expect from others. For me, when I took a hard look, a lot of those expectations were totally unreasonable. So spend some time and take a hard look at your expectations. The ones that are reasonable, make into goals and priorities. The rest of them . . . well . . . just throw them away. 

4. Determine when, in a 24-hour period, you are most creative. Some of us are night people, some are morning people, and some of us work best in the afternoon. But we each have a specific time when the words and ideas tend to flow easier. Look at your internal clock and figure out when that time is. Then, guard it like you’re guarding gold. Really that’s what you’re doing. Our income and dreams are locked up tight with our ability to create. When we figure out the time that work best for creative work, it’s like someone has handed us pure gold.

5. Come up with a way to schedule your time. I know not everyone can have a detailed schedule. But truthfully, if you’re trying to carve out time to write (and who isn’t?), you need to schedule that time. There are lots of methods to help with time management from an old fashioned spread sheet to the Pomodoro Technique. Do some research and find something that works for you.

6. Commit to quit talking negative to and about yourself. When someone bashes our ability and/or our manuscript, it takes time to recover. The same holds true when we do it to ourselves. So take a page from my author friend, Alton Gansky, and QUIT IT!

7. Take care of yourself physically. This means getting enough sleep, eating well, and especially exercising. The sedentary lifestyle of a writer can quickly take its toll on us physically and mentally. Sure these things take time—often time we don’t feel we can spare. But even though this may seem counterintuitive, it will streamline your writing life. You can accomplish so much more when you are physically healthy and mentally alert.

8. Build in regular breaks. Especially when I’m on a deadline, I’ve found that taking regular breaks greatly improves my productivity. A good friend and spiritual mentor of mine Kent Pate has a saying, “Divert daily, withdraw weekly, abandon annually.”

9. Surround yourself with encouraging writers. You don’t just need encouraging friends, but also encouraging writers. We writers are an odd lot, and we need others around us who understand our thought process, our struggles and our quirky joys. These writers should be active and growing—not those who just talk about writing, but those who spend time writing.

10. Engage a prayer team. This may seem odd, especially if you’re fairly new to even calling yourself a writer, much less having something published. But the truth is, this life is hard. When we answer God’s call to step out and share His message, we’re going to encounter spiritual warfare. For that, you need people to pray for you. If you’re also building a ministry, trying to grow an income and/or beginning to speak, that’s even more of a reason to surround yourself with prayer. These folks don’t have to be writers, but they should have a connection to you. 

These are just some of the things that do to help my writing life stay manageable. I’m sure there are lots of other things that would help as well. Be sure to chime in with your suggestions in the comments section below.  

Don’t forget to join the conversation!


Edie Melson is a woman of faith with ink-stained fingers observing life through the lens of her camera. No matter whether she’s talking to writers, entrepreneurs, or readers, her first advice is always “Find your voice, live your story.” As an author, blogger, and speaker she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her numerous books reflect her passion to help others develop the strength of their God-given gifts and apply them to their lives.Connect with her on her website, through Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram


  1. Edie - Yes to all you've said. I'd like to take #3 (expectations) a step further. It involves my pet peeve. I spent my first 2 years in my writers guild - doing NOTHING. I had no specific goals other than "to learn about writing" (something I had never imagined doing after retirement). Worse yet - I had no apparent expectations. But I really did. Coming from 40 years of dealing with customers, clients, corporate policy, and project implementations, I had a head full of expectations. "Learning" about writing was an expectation, not a goal - yet I wasn't doing one thing about my learning. That was 14 years ago. For the last 12 years I have taken an active role in serving in almost every leadership role in our guild to make sure I learned things about writing. As secretary I learned through taking meeting minutes the inadequacies of our planning process. That prepared me to be a better VP when I took that job on. As VP, I worked closely with the president to locate and bring in speakers who were published authors or taught on the craft of writing. Being VP for 2 different presidents prepared me to stand for president for 3 years - which I thoroughly enjoyed. As president, I was invited to arts community events and got to know our mayor, art center director, and a number of Creative Writing faculty at nearby universities. Attending a lecture series at a nearby university exposed me to an author/speaker who became my writing hero - one who writes Appalachian poetry. To appreciate this you must understand that I'd had zero desire to learn about poetry - I did not even like poetry. I would rather have been a rodeo clown. This author/professor in Tennessee has been instrumental in my first 3 books, and I'm closing on on a fourth. He also inspired me to publish over 40 anthologies for our guild members to start their writing journey. And it landed me a spot as a poetry contributor to two Upstate magazines and an occasional teacher of poetry at adult learning classes at 2 universities. My point: even if you haven't formulated any goals, at least acknowledge your expectations. And act on them: hold an office, attend conferences and workshops, spend some $$ on books that detail the craft that inspires and motivates you on YOUR journey. Get skin in the game whether or not you understand your destination or where you are on your journey. It's the same difference as knowing about Christianity and trying each day to BE a better Christian. The Plan for each of us will become clearer once we're expecting and seeing our own progress.
    Jay Wright; Anderson, SC

  2. Excellent wisdom, Edie. You are amazing! I learn so many great things about writing from you.

  3. Your lists are always so helpful!

  4. Thank you for the helpful suggestions, Edie. I find I write best in the morning, so I save other tasks such as social media for afternoons. I do wish I could do better at sticking to just 30 minutes on that though!I especially like your suggestion to write down our goals.