The first place to start is motivation. I struggle with this greatly, as it is hard to start anything, and even harder to hit ‘submit’- because anything takes forever when you want it to be perfect. I’ve heard through other writers that one website that can help with speeding up your writing is 4thewords, a website that turns your writing into a game. You’re given a time limit, a blank file, and a monster to defeat (through writing). Every November, there is a special event for NaNoWrimo, with free membership for the month, along with a special event quest line.
The time element on 4thewords is a double-edged sword. While it’s great for expediting quick gut responses, flash fiction, or journaling, it is almost impossible to write anything that takes time to formulate, like an article or essay. I also tried writing daily schedules and emails on 4thewords- the email writing was a success (less time to overthink!) but the schedule, not so much. If I’m being completely transparent, I also didn’t trust the time allotments on 4TW for this blog post. (Yet I still copy-pasted it in my file, just for word count’s sake).
Now, onto the next step. Once we have the motivation to write, we need to create a plan to channel it.
I started to work on this through making sure my to-do list was in multiple places, as to reduce the likelihood of losing it and having to start over, or not being able to bring it with me. I have a couple of offline versions (one on post-it notes at home, and one in my notebook), and an online version I created with Notion. I’m still relatively new to Notion, and often forget to check it, but I think it’s been able to help me in reframing my work- in terms of end-of-term projects, priorities, and other. I made each category into a separate page, and created a to-do list board on each one.
Efficiency is difficult- not only is it a combination of the two steps above, it requires you to reframe and continually make changes to your work strategy as you go. The hardest part for me is constantly typing out and deleting sentences. Sometimes, I delete a sentence and a few edits later, realize I’m going to have to go through my versions to get it back again. 4thewords helps, but deleting and constantly rewriting your sentence also counts for words, so it’s not the greatest method. For efficiency, I work with almost nothing around me that could distract me- this means at my desk or the library, with only my notebook, computer, and pencil. As for my computer, I’ve been working on closing tabs I do not need, and organizing my course files. If the organization system isn’t there, it’s very difficult to find things after you click off, whether it be to edit or submit (the latter has been more frustrating!). After being recommended the Pomodoro Method, I tried a few variations. Personally, the best results came from the 50:10 method, where you spend 50 minutes working followed by a 10-minute break. I would recommend this to all who consider the usual Pomodoro too short, or the process of continual breaks disruptive.
Perhaps next November, or even this December, I’ll investigate editing methods- we all need them, really!