As I mentioned last month, i’m finishing off a novel which has been on the go for quite a while, and part of me wonders if I could’ve written it more quickly. So here are some tips I’ve gathered from thinking about my own mistakes, and it all comes down to using the little time you have, as effectively as you can.
Smart writing has interested me for years. A blog I wrote back in 2007 considered whether writers were seasonal, and concluded that maybe they were but that it probably also depended on where in the world you live. It’s worth considering whether your writing is affected by the seasons, and if so, then take that into account when planning your writing schedule, if you can. So maybe that means ideas in the spring, writing in the summer, editing in the winter … you get the idea. (Certainly your schedule can be disrupted by seasonal events, like Christmas, and my feature in Words and Pictures has some tips on how to work around these).

But what about the daily routine? Advice is to write every day, but I tend to disagree with that. I do think it’s important to keep your thoughts in a project once you get started, because there is no bigger time waster than constantly having to remind yourself where you are in the story, but I don’t think you need to write every day to do that. Write some days, think about the story in between. If you know the next few months are going to be too busy for big projects, focus your writing time on smaller things, like developing character arcs, or doing a bit of research… whatever will work in small chunks.

I use Scrivener for writing, and would recommend it. As I explore in this article – one in a series about Scrivener – It can save you lots of time, and it’s not just there for people who like to plot.

The other big time waster is social media, and I know it’s fun and I know all that stuff about creating an author brand and being active, blah, blah, but again you need to be smart about how and when you use it. Here’s my blog about managing social media without sacrificing writing time.

top tips:

  • work out when your optimum writing times are – during the year, during the week, and during the day, and try to plan your writing projects accordingly.
  • if your life is too busy to allow you the time you need to write, break your projects into manageable chunks and schedule those chunks sensibly
  • when you sit down to write, use the time effectively. I use an app called be focused. This sets a timer for 25 minutes writing, 5 minutes break, and it really works. Try it. If I only have an hour, then breaking it into those 2 sessions with a quick break in the middle is somehow far more effective.
  • Work out the best way to get into the writing mood. Is it a playlist? A candle? For me it’s re-reading what I’ve written the day before, which could be dangerous because you could find yourself spending all your time tinkering with the first few chapters and never moving forward. So my suggestion here is to allow yourself a maximum of 10% of the writing time available for re-reading. So if you have an hour to write, you can spend the first six minutes re-reading and then you’re off. (Although it might be easier to allow yourself only to re-read the last day’s work. Whatever works.)
Hope all that helps, and happy writing!

This month’s interview in Words and Pictures is with the amazing Jonathan Stroud, Hope you enjoy this sneaky view of his writing space.

How to write

Continuing with the theme of smart writing, this month’s recommended how to write book offers you a great way to save time. Have you ever sat there staring at the ceiling, trying to find a better way to say ‘he walked across the room’? This small guide offers you 1,000 strong verbs, helpfully collected under headings like take/ talk/ walk etc. Quite handy to have in easy reach.  1,000 Strong Verbs, by Valerie Howard.

Subscribe To My Newsletter

Join my mailing list to receive may latest news and updates.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Subscribe To My Newsletter

From time to time I send out newsletters with updates on my books and my work. Keep in touch by signing up.


* indicates required
/ ( mm / dd )

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This