by Bamidele Onibalusi
For at least 16 consecutive days now, I’ve been averaging 5,000 words a day; that’s around 80,000 words in a little over 2 weeks.
In the past, I’ve had certain occasional days where I wrote 8,000 – 10,000 words, but that often meant I was unable to write for the rest of that week.
Now, it seems I’ve found a system that can keep me consistently productive, and I want to share it with you.
Here are my top tips for writing 5,000 words a day, or 150,000 words a month:
1. Write in the morning
The earlier you start writing, the earlier you can finishing writing; this is a good thing, considering that research has shown that most people achieve peak productivity in the morning and are often distracted from noon to 4 p.m.
If you can get all your writing done before noon, you’re a winner.
I find mornings a lot more productive for me; I try to start working before 9 a.m. in the morning. This means I have the rest of the day to write whatever I want.
2. Take breaks between writing
Having a lot of time to write does not necessarily mean you should write for long periods without taking a break. That will only make sure you burn out quickly.
What I do now is take 5 minute breaks for every 25 minutes of writing I do, and I’ve found it to be immensely helpful. The concept also has scientific backing, and you can read more about this by researching “Ultradian Rhythms.”
Managing working at intervals, and taking breaks, can be difficult, so I rely on an app called Teamviz to help me automate this; it has a to-do list and a timer, and it can be installed on your computer. It is developed based on the Pomodoro Technique.
3. Write Every Day
As cliché as this might sound, it works.
I’ve found writing easier and pleasurable by developing a habit of writing every day; every day now, for the past 16 days, I have been writing an article first thing in the morning.
By writing at least one article every morning, it prepares me to think carefully and write more effectively for the rest of the day.
For me, writing is now a lot more fun. It’s a pleasure, and this is thanks to the fact that I write every day.
4. Eliminate the distractions
I find it more productive to work in a place without noise or distraction.
I used to love watching movies a lot. I’ve spent an average of 40 – 50 hours a week, every week, watching movies for a whole month. Yes, I was that addicted!
However, I now watch an average of an hour of a movie daily; it was hard, but I eventually realized that movies were distractions. I also make sure I don’t work in an environment where people are watching movies.
By eliminating the distractions, I’ve found myself to be more productive.
For you, this might mean working in an office or separating a room in your home for your work. Give it a try for just one week and let me know about your progress. It works. I can guarantee that!
5. Use a dual monitor setup
A huge part of my writing, especially when I’m doing client work, relies on the internet for research.
Minimizing my writing window every time I have to research changes my mindset and makes me more likely to be distracted by email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
A dual monitor setup ensures that I can write and research at the same time, since my writing window and my browser are equally open on a different screen; I don’t have to minimize one to access the other.
Your second monitor doesn’t have to be fancy, too; I bought mine, fairly used, for around $50 here in Nigeria.
6. Don’t wait for ideas, or muse, or whatever they call it, to come
Relying on muse, inspiration, ideas, or whatever else they call can be highly impractical. It is mostly an excuse lazy writers use to comfort themselves.
Muse, or inspiration, in the way most writers view it, is a myth.
I used to believe this myth too, and I was a fool for doing so. Now, by debunking it, I’ve had the most productive 16 days of my life; the only problem I now have is determining what ideas to write on. Still, you’ll be surprised at how much more productive coming to the reality that there’s nothing called muse can make you.
You get really good at writing by training your writing muscles; with writing, just as with anything, practice makes perfect.
7. Write first before doing anything
Remember my earlier point about writing once a day? What I didn’t say was that I write first before checking my email, or website, or Twitter, or Facebook.
Believe me, writing before facing the pressure from these sites can go a long way to prepare you for the day.
Research has shown that email, Twitter, Facebook and other forms of media leads to a “dopamine rush”, which makes it almost impossible to stop doing what lead to the dopamine rush.
In case you don’t know how dangerous this can be, dopamine is the chemical your brain releases that makes you addicted to drugs and other substances that make you “high” (good or bad).
The last thing you want to do, if you want a productive day, is start your day by checking social media or email.
8. Take a walk
Let’s say you were so excited about the previous day that you checked your email before writing–what do you do?
Take a walk.
This applies whenever you’re not in a good mood (you woke up on the wrong side of the bed?), when you break a certain productivity rule, or when you need a refresh before you start writing again.
9. Don’t Edit as You Write
Editing as you write will kill the flow of your writing; you will see how “awful” your writing is.
Instead, write all you will for the day and then go back to editing your writing once you’re done. That’s what has worked for me.
10. Form your own rules
Follow mine, for a while. If they work, experiment with them to see if you can get even more done by tweaking them. If they don’t, ignore them.
Don’t be afraid to break rules; “there are no set rules!” Make that your motto and you will get far in life!
Guest post contributed by Bamidele Onibalusi. Bamidele is a freelance writer from Nigeria who has been writing for a living since 2010. He has been featured in Forbes, interviewed in Digital Journal, been featured in Millionaire Magazine in Italy and on several popular blogs online. You can see all his media features here.