Writing Productivity Hacks

June 13, 2024 | 4 min read
It is a truth universally acknowledged that finding focus in the digital age is impossible.
Everything we do is optimized for productivity, so it's no wonder that we get lost scrolling for hours on end. Consuming is so much easier than creating.
Whether you're a seasoned author, a struggling student, or a pro journalist, focus and productivity are important — and difficult to find. To help, we gathered the top writing hacks that are relatively easy to implement and will help you streamline your process.
By integrating these hacks into your creative process, you can cultivate a more productive and prolific writing life.
In this article:

1. Learn from the Pros

As in anything, first and foremost, we like to look to the professionals for advice. Seeing how Ernest Hemingway liked to write or reviewing Stephen King's routine are not only fun and interesting, they're downright educational.

And the best part is that every writing process is as unique as every writer. So go research your favorite author's writing process. Just make sure to take the tips and tricks that serve you — and leave the rest.

Writing Tips from Prolific Writers

2. Set Writing Goals

We are firm believers in this one, and so are psychologists. Research shows that setting achievable goals (key word: achievable) is a concrete way to push yourself toward higher achievement, whatever that may look like for you.

It turns out that people who set goals are more self-confident, have higher levels of motivation, and are more independent.

Concrete goals give you something tangible to work toward, and that is often the difference between completing a manuscript and giving up entirely.

Learn how to set effective writing goals, backed by psychology, that will actually help you smash your word count targets right here.


3. Build a Routine

Some of the greatest writers of all time swear by their writing routine, and it's for good reason. Once you've set your goals, there's no better way to reach those goals than to make writing part of your everyday routine.

4. Utilize Writing Sprints

So much of writing is managing your time. But how do you make the most of your time when the words just won't flow? Try writing sprints.

It turns out a little competition — with others or yourself — can really push the process forward, even when it feels like slogging through mud.

5. Make It a Habit

Humans are creatures of habit. Which is great, because habits free up mental energy by automating our actions and allowing us to focus on more complex tasks — like writing.

For example, when sitting down in your favorite armchair at 5 p.m. to write becomes a habit, you don't have to expend the mental energy deciding whether to do that. And that makes getting started a lot easier.

There are many ways we can leverage our tendency toward the habitual to aid us in the writing process. Good writing habits, when used correctly, can help us get into a regular rhythm that keeps us focused during our writing time.

Find out what habits experts recommend writers cultivate here.


6. Gamify Your Process

There's a lot of powerful neurochemistry that's unleashed by turning difficult tasks into a game. It's called "gamification," and there's a reason the most successful apps of today use it. (How many times has that sad little Duolingo owl shamed you into continuing your daily learning streak?)

The same methods work for writing, too. It's just a matter of implementing them into your own writing process!
We did the heavy work for you by creating Postbox Profiles, which track your key writing stats, and we put together this guide to help you gamify your own writing process.
Read the Gamification of Important Tasks

7. Create Your Workspace

We all have a place where we love to write. If we're lucky, we get to arrange it just the way we like it. The key is to create a space that helps you focus and inspires you.

Because that's the ideal writing space: whether it's a fixed point in your house, or a setup that travels with you, the point of this space is not to be pretty or professional, or to impress others or look good on social media.

The point is to create an ambience that gets you in the mood to write.


8. Join a Community

The act of writing is a solitary activity. But it's more fun when you can share that activity with others. As Writer & Agent Eric Smith says:

"Not only does [collaborating] make the writing process feel less alone, particularly in times that feel, and are, so wildly difficult to navigate. It can also make you a better writer. Because without a doubt, your collaborator will start to rub off on you in ways you don’t expect."

We couldn't agree more.

But how do you find one? A good place to start is by signing up for writing workshops and retreats. Find writing instructor Bryan Young's take on workshops and retreats here.

Recommended articles

More recommended articles for you

July 22, 2024 4 min read

A writing prompt is a short, succinct piece of content designed to center and guide your writing session.

The prompt could be anything — a question, a statement, a theme, a premise, or even a picture. Its purpose is not to tell you what to write; it’s simply to give you something to focus on. We like to think of it like structured daydreaming. And it’s a powerful tool that can inspire and challenge writers of all levels.

July 15, 2024 6 min read

Many, if not most, unpublished writers dream of publication. It's what so many of us strive for. For many, it's the reason they write. But what do you lose when you only write with the goal of publication? What happens when you aren't looking to publish?

Well, lifelong writer Patrick McCafferty says, what happens is freedom.

July 08, 2024 5 min read

Psychology started studying attention to find out how people can stay alert. But after many years, we now understand that attention and focus are the most hidden and powerful systems we have in the brain, the directors of all our thoughts and actions.

This article explores the fascinating workings of the focus and attention systems in the brain. Knowing more about your brain's own processes can help make you more productive — and more creatively fulfilled.