Getting the Most Out of Your Writing Time: 3 Tricks to Maximize Your Productivity

If you’re like me, writing time is precious.

Confession: I have a running fantasy of going on a fabulous writing retreat somewhere in a remote location with house elves (or the equivalent) to cook and clean and to bring me fresh changes of pajamas on a daily basis so that I may do nothing but write.

That still hasn’t happened.

Until then, I’ll share with you the next best thing: some time-management tricks that may help you obtain more of that precious writing time.

1. Pomodoro Technique – In a nutshell, here’s how to do it: set a (tomato- or other-shaped) timer and write for 25 minutes, take a 5-minute break, and repeat. When you’ve completed four rounds of this, you may take a longer (e.g., 20- or 30-minute) break and then start again. Check out the official website dedicated to this technique, buy the tomato-shaped timer, and try it for yourself.

Considerations: This technique is limited to when you have long stretches of uninterrupted time to write (e.g., if you have kids and they finally go to bed, or if you get a long weekend all by yourself — still waiting for this to happen.) You can also use this technique to set up “sprints.”

2. “Don’t Break the Chain” – Inspired by Jerry Seinfeld and applied to writing, the idea of this technique is to set a specific daily writing goal, mark off the days on the calendar in which you achieve that goal, and “don’t break the chain” of days in which you meet your goal. This technique is so popular that there is an iPhone app for this called “Don’t Break the Chain.”

Considerations: For this technique, you need to be able to set a writing goal that can be fairly consistent for the month. Ideas for daily writing goals might be setting the numbers of minutes you need to write every day or a to set a specific daily word count goal. Keep your daily writing goal realistic yet challenging enough to push you. If unexpected things happen, or if you have a trip that month, or break the chain for another reason, don’t worry! Just start up again as soon as you can. You’ll do great 🙂

3. Set Writing Rewards and Forming Routines

Set Writing Reward – If you finish a round of Pomodoro, reward yourself. Rewards can be something as simple as treating yourself to a smoothie or 5 minutes of social media. After a week without “breaking the chain,” treat yourself to a lunch with a friend. Or apply rewards to other writing-related accomplishments. For instance, I love to play around with photographs for book teasers, and I use those breaks as rewards for when I finish writing a chapter. Or sometimes I let myself try out a new recipe I found on Pinterest after meeting a writing goal, and everyone in the family benefits!

Form a Routine – We’re creatures of routine when it comes to certain events in our day, no matter how big or small of a routine. Some of us are more creatures of habit than others, but finding precious writing time means making sure it’s part of your routine. Try to set aside time for writing sometime during your day, whether it be during your lunch break, in the morning before anyone else wakes up, during the weekdays before the kids get home from school, or during the time your significant other is giving you a pedicure (also still waiting for this to happen). The schedule doesn’t have to be set in stone, but it should be something that you count on as part of your daily routine.

What about you? Do you have suggestions for maximizing your writing productivity? Share them below!


Helen Boswell loved to get lost in the pages of a story from the time she could sound out the words. She credits her dad, an avid fiction reader, with encouraging her to read ALL OF THE BOOKS on his shelves from the time she was a teenager. An author of both urban fantasy and contemporary romance, she loves to read and write characters that come to life with their beauty, flaws, and all. She is the author of YA urban fantasies MYTHOLOGY, THE WICKED, THE ETERNAL (coming 2015) and NA contemporary romance LOSING ENOUGH. She is also one of the authors on the YA/NA crossover anthology LOSING IT.