NUMBER 10 – Write in Bursts
One of the biggest keys to being a productive writer is to make time to write. If you want to be really efficient, set aside blocks of time to write. Most of us (according to all of the productivity articles on the Lifehacker website) have trouble being efficient for longer than 60 to 90 minutes at a time.
Knowing this is a writer’s kryptonite, grab your timer and set it for 60 to 90 minutes, whatever is the longest you can achieve. Don’t go longer than that, the mind gets fatigued. Take at least a 20 minute break if you want to keep going.
The other important factor is isolation. Make sure you’ve got your research out of the way. Stay away from Social Media as long as that timer is going. Even one burst with a timer will very likely get you 2000 words for the day on the first pass.
NUMBER 9 – Track Your Word Count
Every day, get your word count put into a spreadsheet and track your productivity. You will also be able to see if your writing is getting faster. It will also help you to know if you are meeting your personal goals.
NUMBER 8 – Take Breaks
This goes along with number 10. Take breaks. Give your mind a chance to recover. When you walk away from your work, you might find inspiration and discover new things to throw at your protagonist. It doesn’t matter what you do with your time, and if you are like me, you’ll keep thinking about the book anyway. Go outside, take a shower, go for a walk. Give your mind a break from the writing and let it dream again.
NUMBER 7 – Write Where You can Be Alone
Okay, I know some of you like to work in coffee bars or around the public. I, however, find it better to work someplace where I can let my work affect me. I am sensitive to the emotions within my writing, and I don’t want others staring at the stupid faces I’m making while writing. If I have to block out my emotions because I’m writing around others, I’ll probably block out being able to properly express those emotions in my book. I don’t like to be disturbed.
NUMBER 6 – Put Emotion in Your Book
Do you want people to remember your book? Put emotion in it. Fill it with feels. Loss, Pain, Love, Angst, Fear, Hope. Lay it on thick. Who cares about your conflict if the reader can’t feel it too?
NUMBER 5 – No Worries
Want to never finish your book? Worry about what the reader will think of the book, or worse, you (!), before you’ve ever finished it. You are not your art. Create it and let it stand on its own.
If you really don’t want to worry about what others think, hurry up and write another book. It’s easy to be married to one book. If you write multiple titles, you’re not tied to the likes and hates of that single title. You’ll move on. It’s rough getting a bad review, but not so bad when it’s just a fragment of your catalogue. And here’s an obvious secret – your writing gets better the more you write. Your next book will be better than your last. That’s how it works.
NUMBER 4 – Don’t Worry About Book Length
NaNoWrimo says a novel is 50,000 words. Publishing Houses like 80,000 words. Guess what? Many readers also like 20,000 word books. I’m one of them. So what if it’s not novel length? Paintings come in different sizes too. Don’t worry about norms. You may have to write to the length of how you plan to sell it. I self-publish so I don’t worry.
NUMBER 3 – The Rewrite
There’s probably something missing from your book. You’ll know it by the time you get to the last chapter. It may feel daunting to do the rewrite, but it’s not so bad. Most of the writing is done. Get in there, put in the missing details, and make your work shine.
The rewrite is a big deal because when I first start writing, I would let myself get bogged down that I didn’t have a perfect book on the first pass. Don’t even bother sending it to your editor and proofreaders until you’ve done that first rewrite. You’ll be wasting everyone’s time. Don’t settle for that first pass “good enough”.
NUMBER 2 – Finish What You Start
So you are a writer, huh? How many works in progress do you have? I have a ton of WIP’s too, and eventually you have to settle on getting one of them done. You can have an entire harddrive full of unfinished works of stories that sounded great in your mind. They’ll never know greatness if you don’t do something about it.
NUMBER 1 – BIC
BIC means Butt in Chair. Just write. You’ve seen the quotes – It’s that simple, and that hard. All of the other tips support this one. Find out what works for you and do it. Do whatever makes you write. There are a million distractions. Don’t look for excuses not to write, find excuses to write.
Great article, Garth, as always! I especially like #6 and felt better about my work when I read #4. I’ve been watching your progress. Keep up the good work!
Thanks, Gin. 😀
‘Don’t look for excuses not to write, find excuses to write.’ – I love that. Very relatable post, I think we can all be guilty of procrastination sometimes but these are some great tips.
Yes, it’s very easy to procrastinate, especially with all of the distractions in our world now. In fact I think I’m supposed to be writing right now. 🙂 Thanks for reading.
Good advice! I was having trouble finding time to get my writing in each day so I started getting up an hour earlier and only use that time for writing. Sometimes it’s hard- to not get on the internet, to get up at 4 AM- but I found the benefits far outweigh the struggles. Writing 1st thing in the morning puts me in a GREAT mood and if I don’t get any other writing done that day I at least know I got 1 hour. And oh, it was awesome to see my progress!
Thanks, Alexa. I whole-heartedly agree. It is tough for me to get my head into the writing first thing, but once you do, it’s hard to beat the sense of accomplishment.