A self published writer's productive work time is almost always shorter than he'd like. When he does manage to carve out a regular working period from his daily life, distractions and road blocks stick in the way. From removing tempting distractions to focusing attention, developers offer apps and gadgets for your computer that eliminate many of your worst writing time problems and allow you to make the most efficient use of the time that you have.
From Facebook and Pinterest to your latest favorite blog, the odds are good that you have a list of sites you love to visit. If you're stuck on a phrase or can't get your writing moving, it's easy to try checking out your favorite sites for five minutes, just to clear your mind. In reality, five minutes turns into half an hour and you've missed out on hundreds of words you could have written. Website blockers eliminate this problem by not allowing you to click on designated pages during chosen times in the day. If you're running Firefox, LeechBlock works, Chrome Nanny does the same for Chrome, and SelfControl covers Mac users. Each of them allows the user to choose the sites to block and the hours to block them, eliminating the temptation to check just "one more tweet."
Lack of Motivation
Every writer gets into a slump, but the best way to get through it is to just sit down and write. The Pomodoro Technique is a productivity practice that gets you moving again by taking small steps. The technique as originally written advises writing for 25 minutes straight, then taking a break no matter where you are in your story. After the break, work for another 25 minutes. You can find timers online that beep or pop up in your face every time a segment is finished, and you can adjust the chunks of writing and break time until you find the most efficient one for your writing style.
Every writer should back up his files, but not every writer remembers every day. Even if you back up your work, your hard drive can crash, erasing everything. Flash drives are a good option, but for something as important as your book, another backup system is always a good thing. Dropbox is a free cloud storage system that allows you to upload your work at any time, keeping it safe and free from software problems. It's secure, offers the ability to share or keep secret, and allows you to edit work right on their page.
First drafts are not pretty, but they're not meant to be. Once you've finished your book, the editing task kicks in and you'll have to go through multiple rewriting rounds. After a while the words start to run together, and it's difficult to spot errors. Having your work read aloud is a great way to spot mistakes your eye might otherwise skim over. Some word processing programs come with text-to-speech programs already installed, or you can download one like Natural Readers for free.
This is hardcore, in-your-face, Chuck Norris writing help. When you write using the Write or Die interface, you can choose your level of involvement. You can get a picture of a cute puppy after so many words or a popup of a scary spider if your production goes below a certain speed. Set the background to soothing colors as long as you're working at a good pace, and it will change to emergency orange when you slow down. The toughest of the levels in this program is kamikazi mode. Set your typing speed and begin to work on your book. When you slow down or dawdle too long, the monster in this program begins to eat all the vowels out of your words, starting from the one you just wrote. Speed back up and you'll save the rest of your work from being disemvoweled.
Give yourself a little reward each day and get writer friends to join a challenge at 750 Words. It's a writing motivational site that uses gamification techniques to motivate novelists to write at least 750 words each day, turning a competition into a habit. Compete with friends for the most points, join to see if you can combine for a score goal, or simply challenge yourself to beat last month's total.
Keep the faith and may the force be with you!