Making Your Writing Time Productive

Imagine this. The dishwasher needs to be unloaded. Hey, at least you ran it, right? The laundry needs to be put in the dryer. The dogs are out of food. And if you don't blow dry your hair today, you're going to look like Mrs. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus... again. Maybe you even have kids tugging at your pant legs.

But finally you get a few minutes of precious writing time to sit down at your laptop. You look at the blinking cursor and the blank new chapter, and... where are you supposed to start? And then the oven timer goes off. And your window of writing opportunity ends as soon as you smell those freshly-baked brownies.

Several months ago, I read a strategy on Kristin Billerbeck's blog. She said she thinks about her characters and plot throughout the day so that whenever she sits down to right, she's ready to go. She's already brainstormed all that other stuff. This stuck with me, and I began to think how much more productive my writing time would be if I focused my attention throughout the day on my story. That way, even if I am away from my computer, I can still be working on my novel.

This week, I'm really going to make an effort to use this strategy and see how it affects my writing productivity. I've done this before, and it always works like a charm. Here are some ways I've found that preplanning, or brainstorming throughout the day, can affect your writing in a positive way:

1) It helps you stay focused on your goal for the scene.

2) It allows you to develop that goal well.

3) It helps you have a general "map" or outline of the scene, before you begin it, even if you like to write as a seat-of-the-pantster. 

4) It helps you make style-specific choices like POV that can save time during rewrites.

The cool thing about making up stories for a living is that you can do that wherever you are, whether it's a baseball stadium or a movie theater. Start looking for inspiration all around you, and not only will it save you time, but it will also broaden your imagination and your ideas for your characters.

Have you ever tried this strategy before? How does it work for you? What do you usually do to prepare for your writing time? Or do you prefer to just sit down and write?


  1. Yes, I love this strategy. It's particularly good for non-plotters, but works even when you have a bit of the plot. I do it a lot when I'm working on the laundry. I also use this tactic for blog posts. When I don't know what to write, or when I have a topic but nothing to fill it in with, I think about my posts so when I get back to the computer, I'm good to go!

    1. Using it for blog posts is such a good suggestion, Cindy! I've been doing that without even thinking, really. And I agree with what you said about non-plotters! I tried to use a different approach and really plot out this novel, but I found it very overwhelming because I like to change things up as I go along. This is a way to keep organized and plot on a mini level without having to do the whole shebang. Thanks for dropping by!

  2. I have to plot, but I do use time during the day to think about it. The best is when I dream about something and wake up at 3 am with ideas in my head...they just flow and won't stop. Only problem is when I have to go to work at 7...and didn't get very much sleep. LOL.

    1. That kind of thing happens to me too, Lindsay! Something about the stillness of the night brings all these fresh ideas! I think it's because that's the time when we finally turn everything off and really listen to our creative minds. And isn't in the best when you have a dream that relates to your story? It's always so stressful trying to remember it though!

  3. I totally do this. In the shower, sitting in the passenger seat while The Hubs dodges potholes, slumping at the kitchen sink...

    When I finally sit down, the story I've been ruminating practically writes itself and I feel like I made double use of time.

  4. And the kitchen sink does always seem to entail slumping, doesn't it?