Gerard over at The Presurfer put up a link to this article by Peter Economy (great handle) which details seven things you can do to improve your work day. I agree with all of them, but I think writers (especially those who work from a home office) face some additional challenges when it comes to productive work sessions.
We always consider the things we can do to make the work better but rarely think about how to make the work better for us. After seventeen years of writing full time from home I've hit on some things that always work for me. So here are:
Seven Things I Do to Improve My Writing Day
1. Meditate: Because writing requires intense focus meditation before I begin work helps me to clear the cobwebs and distracting thoughts out of my head. Simply sitting and relaxing in silence for fifteen to thirty minutes also works.
2. Unplug from Everything Else: I began writing before there was an internet, which is why it's always been easy for me to log off and stay off the internet during my writing day. With all electronica in our lives now I think it may also help to switch off the smart phones, tablets, television, radio or any other powered source of distraction and temptation.
3. Set/Follow Reasonable Goals: Setting a goal to write a certain number of words each writing day may not seem very artistic or organic but it does help with productivity and establishing a writing routine. I've always done this and to this day it's still the primary reason I finish every project. If you don't care to set a daily goal by word count you can also go for page, scene or chapter goals.
4. Take Short & Long Breaks: For every two hours I write I take a ten-minute short break, and after four hours I take a thirty-minute long break. Working for hours and hours at the computer without taking a break is definitely unhealthy and an open invitation to burning out.
5. Keep a Running To-Do-Later List: While I'm writing I always think of something else in the story that I've already written and now need to change/fix/add on/edit out etc. Stopping to backtrack and do that wrecks my forward momentum, however, so I keep a notepad in my work space and jot down brief notes about whatever I need to do and save them to work on during my evening editing session.
6. Stretch Regularly: Sitting for long periods of time is the new health horror, and that can definitely be said of writing. I'm now working part of the day at my makeshift standing desk, but I also stretch regularly whenever I sit and work. Web MD has a nice list here of some stretches and other exercises you can do at your desk.
7. Have a Reward Ready: I work better and more cheerfully if I have something to look forward to doing or having once I'm finished for the day. Usually it's sewing or quilting, but I also use books I want to read, music I want to listen to or even a nice hot bubble bath to motivate me.
What is something you do regularly to improve your writing day for you? Let us know in comments.