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How to Write More Than You Do Now

How much work do you achieve each day, each week? Are you as productive as you want to be, as you can be? You know you can write more, but each time you turn on your computer you become distracted – an hour later and you’re deep into your new Facebook friend’s family photos. Would you like to give up your time sinks and become more productive?

A countdown of reasons why you may be distracted from your writing

Loss of confidence: you’re distracted because you don’t have confidence in your work. One of the main reasons you don’t write as much as you want to is because you think you have nothing more to say; that people don’t ‘get’ what you do, and that you aren’t knowledgeable enough to teach others. You feel as though you’re repeating yourself and that it’s only a matter of time before readers see you as the fake you believe you are. This loss of confidence is eating you up inside and subconsciously you feel that if you sabotage your own efforts and write less, you’ll have fewer opportunities to mess up and reveal who you’ve come to think you are.

Tips to help:

  • Go back to some of your truly successful stories and read though them again.
  • If you have testimonials, read a few every day to remind yourself about what people have been saying about you, and how your work has helped them.
  • Give yourself a reward each time you manage to get something done from start to finish.
  • Get hold of how to build confidence books, blogs and materials. This may sound clichéd, but conditioning the mind to thrive really does bring success! Your subconscious has no intelligence. It cannot reason. It ‘learns’ from continuous thoughts and actions. It can easily be programmed by its owner. Are you programming it to make you fail?

Writer’s block: you may be distracted from your writing because you’re experiencing a temporary writer’s block. You turn on the computer, fully expecting and intending to open a fresh document and create something new. As soon as the welcome page has loaded you realise that your brain has gone completely blank. You don’t know what’s caused it, but nothing works to take you back to the days of your former writing glories.

Tips to help:

  • Read blogs and websites in your niche and make notes of articles which have a large number of comments. Write a blog post to address one of the questions asked in the comments section. (You don’t have to name or pinpoint anyone – just write a normal blog post).
  • Do something different. Turn off the computer. This is important because you don’t want to build up a learned habit of mindlessness associated with the computer. (Remember about the subconscious and its lack of intellect). If your subconscious learns that the mind wanders and the brain freezes when you open a computer, it will do this every time ‘to help you out’. It will think this is what it’s supposed to do.
  • Take pictures and listen to your favourite music. Pictures paint a thousand words for a good reason. One of those reasons is to inspire – especially people like us who are natural creators. Sit down and look at the pictures you took and you’ll be motivated to come up with various articles. This is how I plan articles to write on one of my blogs. I take a bunch of pictures then use each one to write an article within my niche. I never run out of articles! Music also inspires us. Use it to your advantage to cure your writer’s block.

And the biggest reason writers are distracted from their writing: no direction or routine

This is probably the reason you are not writing as much as you should, you can, and want to. You have no direction. You perhaps turn your computer on and look at your emails first because you think this is what you should do. You get side-tracked by the link within an email you received and click on it. It takes you to a webpage, where you start to read some of the comments left there.

Someone’s left an amusing comment and he has a link to his Facebook page on it. You follow the link to his Facebook profile so you could add him as a friend. While there, you notice that he’s also friends with a blogger you’d really like to get to know.

You click on this blogger’s profile and notice he’s raving about his new e-Book. He has a few pictures of the book cover, so you click to make them bigger. You view these images and before you realise it, you’re looking through pictures of his dog. Two hours later and you’ve made your way back to the second email on your inbox…

You will not progress as a writer living and working like this!

Tips to help:

You need to make a writing time table and stick to it. Avoid time sinks because at the end of the day when the only words you’ve written are the 140 characters you posted on twitter, you’ll feel terrible about yourself and your productivity. I learned about the writing/Internet timetable from Mitz at Tips4PC and have never looked back since.

Elements to note when creating your timetable

  • An excel document is the perfect way to create your timetable.
  • It’s important to turn off the email sound so that it’s not pinging you every time you receive a new message in your inbox.
  • Stick to your guns. If you have 20 minutes on Facebook, log off at the end of 20 minutes – even if you’re having a conversation with someone else. Excuse yourself and say you’re off to work now.
  • Unsubscribe to all blogs you no longer read, and from all Facebook groups/posts you no longer visit. This will make your inbox cleaner and less mind-clogging.
  • Colour code your time table so you can clearly see things you should prioritize.
  • Make time for updating and editing your old posts.
  • Make time each week for creating back-links for your blogs.

 

Here is a copy of my writing timetable. It keeps me on track. Copy it if you like and replace what you don’t need with your personal preferences. You’ll immediately see the difference in the amount of work you put out.

Note: I change these hours around when I have to, or when I have deadlines I have to meet. The networking, commenting and back-linking can all wait until my more important work is done.

Also note: When you network you can keep 3 windows (Twitter, Facebook, Quora) open at the same time so you can switch between them without hanging around to wait for replies. When the hour is up, you should wrap up conversations instantly and close the windows down.

Anne Lyken-Garner is a published author, freelance writer, blogger and editor. She writes for, and manages 4 blogs and edited The Writers Bureau online student magazine for 2 years. You can read more about Anne at her writing blog, A Blogger’s Books, where you can check out her Free English Lessons series and her inspirational book, Sunday’s Child.  

23 Comments on "How to Write More Than You Do Now"

  1. Ruan | FreelanceWritingTactics says:

    Very interesting post indeed!

    Personally, I have quite some difficulty in sticking to a schedule. Having said that, I do have a diary, I use Outlook to schedule important dates and events, webinars, etc but by no means do I ever stick to it.

    I have actually just written a post on kikolani.com about this:

    http://kikolani.com/how-distractions-paralyze-your-productivity-as-a-freelance-writer-how-to-eliminate-them.html

    I have no problem to set aside time to do research and get to write my article or post. I am quite good at focusing on shutting out distractions and focusing on one thing. What I do find difficult to manage or set out is the amount of time to spend on each subject. For instance, I may have days that I spend hours on reading interesting blog posts and spent a few more on commenting.

    Other days I find myself spending way too much on Twitter or Facebook. I have to agree with Harleena, social media and emails are my worse time wasters (important for sure but spending way too much on it at a time) and I have to add other blog reading and commenting to the list.

    I mean just take a look at this comment already! I just feel saying what is on my mind is important. We are writers after all, right? 🙂

    I have to figure out how much time I have to spend on each subject, then set up a time table for myself and stick to it for dear life, that’s the only way I can see myself improving my productivity.

    Thanks for this!

    • Anne Lyken-Garner says:

      HI Ruan. That is exactly why you need an Internet time table!

      This is the pressing reason why I need one. Social media can really take up my writing time. If I have 20 minutes on Facebook each day I won’t waste any time looking at links and photos. I’ll have to do what’s important that day and let everything else wait until I log back in.

      This works brilliantly for me. I know it can for you too. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I sometimes comment a lot on other blogs in my niche and end up taking more time than necessary.
    Sometimes I don’t understand understand myself because in high school I prepared a time table and followed it to the letter. Slowly after high school, I abandoned this healthy habit.

    It is what I need to succeed in my writing career.
    Thank you for your great information.

    • Anne Lyken-Garner says:

      We kept to what we needed to do, didn’t we, Samuel? It makes so much sense to have a timetable. Let me know how you get on, please.

  3. Wonderful Anne!

    I so agree with your points because this is something all of us freelance writers undergo! And yes, unless we don’t follow a routine or time-table, things WILL take a back seat where writing is concerned.

    Social media and emails are the biggest distractions, and unless you close them off while working or limit the time you spend on each one of them – things can never work. Or even if they do, it will show in your work, which won’t be up to the mark.

    I loved your time-table and have seen it made by a few other writers too, but yes, we need to adjust and suit it to our timings. More so, we all have our own routines and times we follow, though what remains common to all is that we all NEED to have a proper work schedule – period!

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful information with all of us 🙂

    • Anne Lyken-Garner says:

      You’re welcome, Leena.

      I know that you do a lot of writing, so your schedule or time table must be quite strict. Are there any more workable pointers (as it relates to time tables) you found extremely useful in your own experience?

      Please share.

  4. Nick says:

    Anne,

    Thank you for a very inspiring post. I was most intrigued about your idea of taking a bunch of photos !

    What do you take photos of ? What`s your blog about & how do the photos relate to it?

    Thank you

    Nick

    • Anne Lyken-Garner says:

      Hi Nick. The blog in question is here: http://getconfidence.net

      It’s a confidence building site, so I take random photos of nature, moving traffic, stairs, things that light up, traffic lights, ripples in the stream, peaceful wooded areas etc. As you can see, all these are pictures I can easily write confidence-building articles about.

      I took a picture of an EXIT sign. I plan to use this in a future post on this blog. I also took a photo of my daughter blowing a dandelion… you can see that this will make an excellent post on self-confidence.

      Have a look through the blog. I have to admit that the last post doesn’t relate to any photos I’ve taken, though 🙂 Look at the other photos and you’ll see what I mean. The second post has a picture of my daughter in front of a hill. Then there’s one of a pair of hands I took of a poster on holiday, followed by one I took of some grassy stairs when I went for a walk etc. 🙂

  5. Writing more is definitely possible but one needs to have patience to see the result.. Sometimes one may not getting instant traffic on his blog after posting few posts and that’s why he may need to wait..One needs to sometimes stay away from the internet world to feel relax. Watching movies is one of the best thing which a writer can do..I really love this post and I am thinking about how I can write more than I do normally..

    • Anne Lyken-Garner says:

      Have you thought of the possibility of making a writing/Internet time table like the one in the post?

      • No I haven’t made any time table as it’s not possible for me to follow a particular time table due to my studies and other things…I don’t get time for my blog sometimes just because I am busy writing for few clients or busy with my studies….Anne According to me a freelancer should work at his own wish..

        • Anne Lyken-Garner says:

          As you wish. Don’t you think your writing day may be more productive if you know exactly what you’re doing, and when.

          How do you cope with distractions? What sort of mechanisms do you use?

  6. Tom says:

    I really love the spreadsheet. You really break down the time and take into consideration other “projects” and “tasks”.

    Tom

    • Anne Lyken-Garner says:

      Thanks, Tom. I’m sure that you can re-design it according to your needs. If you need more time marketing and less time writing, you can arrange this as well. The possibilities are endless … as they say.

      Thanks for your input.

  7. Ben Troy says:

    thanks for sharing your time management for writing new content. I write new post 3 times a week and just spend exact 2 hours for a quality post, donot do anything else while writing

    • Anne Lyken-Garner says:

      HI Ben. The temptation is really great to check emails etc while writing. As you said, this time should be dedicated to writing alone.

      In my case, my editing and writing time are really important, so I need to be really focused on these. I try to do the other ‘stuff’ before I do them, so I’m not thinking I’m missing out.

      I also prioritise when I need to. Social media goes out the window when I have deadlines.

  8. rokita says:

    Thanks for good piece of advice. I write one post per month, so it’s going to be useful for me.

    • Anne Lyken-Garner says:

      One post per month! I haven’t got the courage to let my blogs lie that long without a post.:-) What’s your subject and do your readers mind waiting for an entire month?

  9. Glori Surban says:

    This post couldn’t have come at a more perfect time for me. I was just writing down my to-do list and then, here you were, basically giving me a cheat sheet to a productive day!

    Thank you Anne! This is such a great piece. All the things you mentioned resonated with me and then you gave me some great advice!

    • Anne Lyken-Garner says:

      That’s fantastic, Glori! I’m glad I could help.

  10. James Hannan says:

    Hy, Anne Lyken-Garner. I really enjoyed your post. I also face this problem. I never get enough time to write more. This post will help me to increase my writing speed.

    Thanks

    • Anne Lyken-Garner says:

      Hi James. It’s not just about writing speed. I find that I’m less stressed, I feel more organised and more productive, and most of all, I feel like I have a proper job.

      When you feel like your writing is a ‘real’ job, this gives you the incentive to advance, to expand and to perform even better. It’s win – win.

  11. Alamin says:

    Thanks Anne Lyken-Garner!! Great tips to increase writing quantity. I think making a routine is great way to go…

    Al amin

Onibalusi

Welcome! I'm Bamidele Onibalusi, a young writer and blogger. I believe writers are unique and highly talented individuals that should be given the respect they deserve. This blog offers practical advice to help you become truly in charge of your writing career.

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