by Lisa Jordan, @lisajordan
I shop for groceries at a grocery store that offers discount prices. Most of the food items aren’t brand name. Patrons bring their own bags or buy them at checkout. In order to use a shopping cart, you need to pay a quarter, but you receive your quarter back once you return the cart.
The cashiers are efficient in scanning groceries because they are timed per transaction. This lessens gossiping with customers and co-workers that slow down lines.
As I was packing my own groceries into my cloth bags, I thought about the efficiency of the store that allows me to get in and out with a month’s worth of groceries (yes, a month) in less than an hour.
Carts aren’t left in the parking lot. Shelves are stocked daily by the cashiers before the store opens. Selection is limited, so customers aren’t overwhelmed by choices. Checking out is streamlined.
So what does that have to do with writing?
One of the challenges of finding a balance in writing and life is using your writing time more efficiently so you’re more productive with your words.
Here are a few tips to help you write more efficiently:
- I.C.: The best way to write efficiently is BIC—butt in chair. It’s tough to write if you’re doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen or watching the latest episode of The Voice. View your daily schedule, then make an appointment to spend a certain amount of time and use it to write. Use that appointed time and add word counts to your current works-in-progress.
- Limit distractions: Maybe you can write with background noise or music, but it’s pretty tough to write while surfing Facebook, replying to emails or sending Tweets on Twitter. When it’s time to focus on your novel, close those windows so they don’t distract you from your current task. Consider turning off your wifi so those pings don’t pull you from your story. Turn off your phone and keep your focus on your story.
- Zero In: Instead of focusing on the overall story and the overwhelming number of words that need to be written, keep your focus on the specific scenes you plan to write that day. Zero in on the details that bring those scenes to life. Focus on today’s goal and word count.
- Add the Asterisk: During the first Storycrafters Retreat, Susie May Warren taught us if we’re stuck on a name or a specific element in our scene, then we should add an asterisk or two. That way you can continue forward without wasting precious writing time trying to figure out exactly what you need. Once you’ve completed that scene or chapter or even the entire novel, you can use the search feature to find those asterisks and replace them with the necessary information.
- Plan ahead: When you’re done for the day, review your scenes, thenthink ahead to your next scene. As you’re going about your daily activities, ponder your upcoming scene so when you sit at the computer, you’re not staring at the blinking cursor.
- Recharge: When writing time is limited or you’re facing deadline, it’s still important to take necessary downtime to keep your creativity full charged. Even if the clock is ticking, it’s essential to walk away from your computer in order to be able to dive back into your story with a fresh mind.
Every writer’s time and responsibilities are different. We go through different seasons of life that require our attention elsewhere, but we can use the time away from our computers to ponder new scenes, plot points, character motivations, and marketing ideas. However, once you do get in the habit of using your designated writing time more efficiently, you’ll be that much closer to completing your novel.
Sarah Sullivan will do whatever it takes to make her summer youth program permanent. But when she’s tasked to teach the teens basic kitchen skills, her hope goes up in flames. Not knowing the first thing about cooking, Sarah needs help. Smelling the delicious aromas coming from her neighbor’s apartment one night, she thinks she’s found her answer. Alec Seaver might know his way around pots and pans, but the lone-wolf widower doesn’t want anything to do with the free-spirited beauty next door. But after he becomes Sarah’s reluctant partner, Alec realizes that she might just be the key ingredient missing from his life.
Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. She is the Operations Manager for Novel.Academy, powered by My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for almost thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and playing in her craft room with friends. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com.