I am finalising the current edit of my novel and as it draws to a close I am thinking about the next project and the one after that, and after that and how to ensure I continue to write. My current level of productivity is not what I would like it to be, particularly if I want it to carry me into a “writing career”.
During my breaks from reading through my novel, I have been researching productivity and I have discovered a mistake I may have been making in my current activities.
I have been applying a lot of business related productivity tools and theories to my writing life and processes. Some of these tools and tips have been useful. But overall my creative productivity has not improved. I still struggle with blocks and procrastination at times.
I have a plan and being a single parent there are times when I’m not going to get the time I want to write. And I’m currently living with my parents while I build a house which is distracting and the fact that I’m not living in my own space…
Ok, so a lot goes on in the average writer’s life. That is what life is and it is a matter finding ways to work around it.
I have talked in the past about finding time and taking action on your goals but what do we really need to do to sit at the computer or desk and write and write as much as we possibly can?
1. Set realistic writing goals
Before you start you need to know where you are going and why. Set realistic achievable goals that are meaningful to you.
For examples of goal setting see here.
2. Know what and when works best for you
When are you most productive?
The only one to really know this is you.
Keep records of your writing to map your productivity. Include as many details as you can, such as where you wrote and what time of day and how many words you produced in that time. Once you know what times are most productive for you, or writing place you will be able to maximise your writing output. (From 2k-10k)
3. Develop a writing ritual (triggering habit)
A triggering habit is one that triggers your brain that it is time to do something, such as write.
Of a morning, as soon as I wake, I stretch, make a cup of tea and then sit at my desk. This set of steps puts me into the writing mode and I am able to find the flow quite quickly. If I deviate from this, such as check emails first, or check the news on the TV, then I am lost and I can’t settle into writing until later in the day.
When writing in other places I have other rituals; for example, when writing in the library at lunch time, I walk from my office straight there and select a quiet desk on the second floor, pull my things from my bag, review my plans, put my handbag on the shelf above the desk what I don’t need beside it and the clear desk only contains the writing to do and a pen. Then off I go, trying to write or edit as much and as well as I can before I have to head back to the office.
4. Planning and outlining
Having a clear plan of what you what to achieve in a writing period will help focus the mind on the writing at hand.
An outline helps the drafting process and something I have battled with myself. Determining what may happen in the story before you write it can be just as fun as pantsing – and I am trialling this with my next (nearly current) project and I will explore it more as I start this process.
5. Cut out the distractions
We all find different things distracting, social media, noise or children. Determine what distracts you most and find ways to reduce these impacting on your writing.
It may be that you need to organise some quiet time away from the family, or it may be implementing a blocking program to stop you surfing the internet, or turning off the television.
6. Set deadlines
This doesn’t work for everyone and I know that often if I set my own deadlines they are passed over without a thought. If deadlines work for you, great; if not, consider making them public.
I did this recently with my call out for readers and the promise that my current work would be finished and ready to go around mid-August – which it nearly is.
7. Allow yourself some time when you need it
Don’t try to push too hard when energy levels are low. You have to look after yourself to get the most writing done.
Getting enough sleep is an important part of that. I know that after 9pm I’m not much good for anything. I could sit up and watch the telly then, or go to bed get rested and be fresh to start early the next morning (I like 4.30/5am but it is so cold at the moment that my toes don’t always agree).
These are my tips on boosting your creative productivity, and it may be that only some of these work for you, but some increase in productivity is going to get you writing more sooner. For more try these books.
Could one or all of these strategies work for you? Or have you tried something completely different that has increased your productivity? Please share your stories.