Freelancing takes many forms, and although you may consider yourself a writer, there’s a slew of related work that comes with it: researching, editing, conference calls, invoicing. Let’s face it, being a writer involves a lot of not-writing — and all that not-writing takes time.
Even when you are writing, you might find that your daily gig of expressing a brand’s mission in 140 characters or less, or keeping a blog post to 300 words, can be stifling.
When you have a million and one tasks to accomplish and work guidelines to respect, what’s a busy writer to do?
Try these exercises to stay sharp and stretch your writer’s limbs — all while moving through your daily tasks.
Challenge yourself with a “banned” words list
You can improve your writing skills even if you’re just keeping up with emails. Keep a list of three to five “banned” words and hit that backspace key each time you see one crop up in your daily tasks. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it).
For example, I’m striving to ban “awesome” as a go-to adjective. If I spy a sentence in an email that starts with “so,” I revise immediately. Pat yourself on the back when you catch a correction before you hit “send.”
Set a mental timer
How quickly can you respond to those daily emails? Can your project update notes be more concise? Challenge yourself to complete emails and other updates in record time — while still excelling in grammar, clarity, and authenticity.
Take note of when you feel comfortable breezing through these tasks, and consider working this strategy into your daily routine. Maybe you cruise through emails before breakfast but only after that first cup of coffee. Know thyself, writer.
Go back to basics with a notebook
Our tech tools have plenty of perks, but consider the simplicity of pen and paper. A notebook can thrive despite drained phone batteries, bad reception, and device sharing. I keep one next to my bed for capturing bits of dialogue or ideas that float to the surface during those pre-alarm moments.
Read, even if you have no time to read
When you’re busy, it’s hard to fit in any extracurricular activities, let alone “reading for pleasure.” Make it happen, though: squeeze in a newspaper article, short story, or even a blog post whenever you can. Use a tool like Pocket to save longer reads to your phone for when you’re eating lunch or waiting for a train.
Writers notice others’ writing. The best way to stay sharp is to keep a steady stream of content flowing.
What’s your favorite way to sneak writing practice into your day?