Whether you are an acclaimed novelist with several awards on your shelve or an up and coming freelancer, writing can be difficult. All writers struggle with actually sitting down and being able to get some ideas down on paper. Who can blame them? With constant distractions and the general commotion of our daily lives, actually being able to focus for a while can be very difficult.
Most people agree that you need to have a routine, but what exactly should it look like? Fortunately for you, we have discovered some surefire strategies for you on how to make a writing routine that will have you ready for anything!
This is the most important thing for you to do. Writing is all about focus. You have to be able to put your ideas together effectively, and constant beeps and vibrations are only going to distract you. Turn your phone on silent, flip it upside and don’t look at it until after you have finished. Same goes with anything else. These days, most people write on a computer so close down Facebook and ensure that it is just you and your word processing software of choice.
This goes for people as well. You can work in libraries, cafes, and so on and even sit with your friends, but they have to know to leave you alone and let you do your thing. Also, don’t try to multitask which has been consistently proven to reduce productivity. Stay focused on one job at a time. You will work faster and get to the others things much quicker as a result.
For freelancers, this is the most important thing. Sometimes it’s nice to have a boss and a normal work schedule because it forces you to be productive and get things done. If you are purely freelancing, you need to set a schedule that works for you.
The nice thing is that unlike normal jobs, you can actually work when you want to. Whether you are a morning, night or somewhere in between kind of person, you have options. The main thing is just staying consistent. That’s the whole point of a routine. Make sure you keep to your schedule because that is when your brain will be in its best place to operate.
Your routine should work both ways too. One problem with freelancing is that your clients may tend to email you on weekends, late at night or even on holidays. Some people are okay with this, but set your boundaries and make sure you are not always working. In the times of the day when you don’t want to be bothered by work but still want to enjoy Instagram and WhatsApp, turn of your email and other work related notifications.
Even the most organized writers can get bogged down by overly busy weeks. For this reason, it is always helpful to set a schedule at the beginning of the week (or the month if you are so lucky!). Check your deadlines and make sure everything can be submitted on time.
Good writers pride themselves on deadlines, but every so often you will end up missing one. The farther ahead that you can warn the client the better. Most people just need a little communication, and it should be fine. However, be sure that you don’t consistently miss deadlines with the same client or you will soon be history!
When You Don’t Have Enough Work
Freelancers often live in either one of two worlds—one where there is too much work or one where there is not enough. Either way, you need always to be writing. It should be part of your daily routine. When you have too much work, scheduling is key, and hopefully, the stress of deadlines and pressure will be enough to keep you very focused.
When you are in between projects or doing very little, obviously you will be on the hunt again for new jobs. This is also a great time to update your resume, portfolio, and website. If you don’t have a website, then start one now! A website is a virtual resume for your clients and demonstrates your professionalism. In the slower times, you should periodically update your blog on your site. The blog does not have to be about anything in particular—it could be travel, lifestyle or just journaling (don’t be too personal)—just something for people to get an additional sense of what your style is like.
Your Own Writing Space
Everybody has his or her own preference where he or she is most comfortable. For you to be the most productive, you should have somewhere that is ideally suited for you. It is a good idea to have one place at home and one additional spot so you can freshen up your routine from time to time. It’s a good idea to have a table or desk, some natural light and most importantly, a comfy chair. You will spend a long time there so invest in something with nice back support!
On that note, be sure you get up to stretch once an hour. Sitting too long has been known to result in a host of health issues. After you have completed the assignment, or have found a nice temporary stopping point, get up, stretch and take a look around. It is better for your eyes and will freshen you up a bit, so you can be more productive.
All writers know that everything requires revisions. Spell check, unfortunately, just is not smart enough yet to catch all of our mistakes. Read your writing out loud so you can hear how it sounds. If you have time, print the document as well. These are two great ways of seeing where you may have a grammatical mistake or where something just does not sound right.
After you have made your edits, you are ready to send to your client. Take a deep breath and get ready. Repeat after me, “I am not the document I just sent, any suggestions to it are not suggestions about my personality.” Our clients are looking for specific things. There are times when even if we produced a solid piece of writing, it is not exactly what they are looking for. That’s fine.
This most frequently happens with new clients, and it will take a little time and going back and forth on the first few assignments. Be patient. If the person you are working with is nice and gives you solid feedback, then you are lucky. Try to get them back a new version as quickly as possible. This will help build your writing skills but show that you are determined to do a good job.
Likewise, if the person is vague or impolite, then you know that this is a relationship that is not worth continuing. It can be hard when you are just getting established or don’t have much work at the moment to make this decision or not. Sometimes, you just have to do it for the money.
Any way that you handle it be professional and polite. You can scream at your computer screen, but when you type your response, be cordial because all of this is documented and you want to be able to show that you have always been professional should there be a dispute of any sort. This is essential if this client provides a review or reference of you in any way.
Finally, compartmentalize. Don’t take any bad energy to a different assignment or different client. Each project is unique and should be approached from a fresh angle.
There are other things you should consider acquiring to make your life easier. Nowadays, most people work on a laptop. The benefits of portability are great, but there are some downsides. Trackpads can get very annoying to work with after several hours of editing, so get a mouse. It makes those small corrections so much easier to handle.
A notebook with a calendar is also a great idea. This helps you plan out your schedule, and you can set it next to your computer, so you don’t have to toggle between windows. It also gives you some space to brainstorm out ideas and takes notes easily.
There are things you can do as well to make your environment more conducive to writing. Ambient or jazz music is a good way to filter out background noise. Also, make sure you have your favorite tea or coffee to sip on while writing. The caffeine will give you the little energy boost you might be needing!
It’s All in the Routine
Think about any person who excels in any field. From athletes to musicians to chefs, they are people who are constantly practicing and honing their skills. Writing is the same way. You don’t have to eat, sleep and breathe writing, but setting up a solid routine is a good start.
In your free time, do some reading and do a little research about other writers. Ask them for their tips and tricks because they have likely struggled with some of the same problems you are. More than anything be open-minded and ready to try new approaches because that’s the best way for you to find that perfect strategy for writing success!
Ttis post was written by Nick Sawinyh. Proud father, husband, and corgi-owner. I've been working in SEO Industry for more than ten years. I love finding new trends that affect technologies that impacts the world of telecommunications and web. Product Manager at Seomator . You can connect with Nick on Twitter & Linkedin.