How to Write Productively While Working a Full-Time Job

One of the most important aspects of surviving in the world of indie publishing is writing prolifically. As good as your book might be it’s hard to rely on a lightning strike where people suddenly flock to your novel. The best way to get noticed is to publishing as many quality books as you can. You should never sacrifice substance or story for getting books published but the more titles you have under your name, the easier it is for you to be discovered. Just ask anyone from runaway success Hugh Howey to new Amazon darling Wayne Stinnett. It’s all about getting good books to readers as soon as you can.

But how the heck do you do that if you aren’t a full time writer? Stephen King devotes four or more hours a day to writing in the morning. Other authors, like Russell Blake, claim to write upwards of twelve, even fifteen, hours per day. If you’ve got kids to worry about, a home to clean, a job to work, or a dog that demands frequent lengthy walks organizing your writing time becomes more necessary than ever.

I’ve moved from writing 500 words per day to 2000 words per day (nothing fantastic, but nothing to scoff about) by utilizing strategies to make my writing time effective.

First, I plot out everything in advance in a comprehensive outline. Some people hate to hear that word (plotting!), but I find it absolutely important that I know where the overall story is going before I start writing. It’s okay if the plot changes, just as long as I have an overall idea.

At the end of each writing session, I write out a few sentences or a paragraph describing exactly what I will start writing the next day. This takes me anywhere from five to ten minutes but it saves me a half hour or more dilly-dallying the next time I plop down at my keyboard. There’s no wasted time trying to figure out what my characters are facing next, where they’re at, or how I want the scene to play out. It’s a lot easier to write when you know what’s going to happen. I know before I write.

When I stop writing, not only do I make that little outline, but I also stop the session in the middle of a scene. This is advice I’ve heard passed on by other writers but it serves well. Do not stop at a scene break or the end of a chapter. Instead stop writing in the middle of a confrontation, after the first punch has been thrown, or that accusation has been levied. At least for me, writing is all about momentum. Once I get going, it makes it easier for those words to fly. Starting in the middle of a scene that you’re excited about makes it easier to regain that momentum when you restart that fingers-on-the-keyboard dance the next day.

None of this takes time and it’s not rocket science but I find practicing these habits has increased my word output. If I’m lucky, I get an hour or two at most per day to write, so I’ve got to make every minute count. Usually, the hardest part of a writing session is actually starting to write. Thus, I do my best to making starting easy. I don’t want to be jumping the hurdles when I haven’t even started running yet. Hopefully, integrating a couple of these tips helps your own productivity and I’d love to hear from other busy writers on how they utilize their time more effectively. Happy writing!

By Anthony J. Melchiorri. I grew up in Normal, Illinois. After a regular (it’s hard, but I refuse to make a pun of it) childhood in Normal, I left for the University of Iowa to get a degree in Biomedical Engineering. But, I couldn’t give up reading and writing and there really wasn’t enough of that in engineering (unless you’re into thick, no-thrills books on thermodynamics and polymer physics). I picked up a second degree in English while working on the Biomedical Engineering degree and have since counted myself fortunate for making that decision. Iowa City, North America’s only official UNESCO City of Literature, is a thriving hotbed of writers and readers, with some of the best visiting the city for their renowned workshop or famous authors dropping by to read a story they’ve written and chat.  I had the opportunity to meet plenty of great writers and storytellers that inspired me to keep writing, even when I graduated and entered a doctoral program at the University of Maryland for Bioengineering.

Today, when I’m not writing and reading, I’m primarily working on tissue engineered blood vessels, gearing my work for children with congenital heart defects. I get to work with awesome 3D printing technologies and am always astounded by the rapidly advancing technologies coursing through the veins of universities and research settings. Much of my writing has been inspired by those advancements and my conversations with other researchers, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and many others interested in our evolving world.



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