9 Changes You Need to Make to be a More Productive Writer
2018 has finally arrived, and with that comes New Year’s Resolutions.
I don’t make them any more as I never stuck to them, but millions of us still do.
For me, setting goals that I know I can achieve is more beneficial. The very fact that there’s a day dedicated to giving up on your New Year’s Resolutions halfway through January says it all.
That doesn’t mean you can’t make changes in 2018, though.
It’s only through changing our habits and breaking free of our moulds that we stop ourselves from stagnating.
You don’t have to wait for a new year to change your habits either. You can make changes at any time of the year, and you should.
We always feel compelled to reassess and reevaluate our lives when the new year rolls around, but we should do that on a much more regular basis. Doing so keeps us accountable as well as aware of our habits, both good and bad. That way, we can embrace the good habits and break out of the old ones.
So, do you want to make this your most productive year ever?
Here’s 9 tips to help you become a more productive writer.
The more you immerse yourself in your writing, the more you’ll be able to write.
If you’re trying to write, hold a conversation, scroll through Twitter, watch TV, and do a dozen other things at the same time, you won’t be able to give anything your full attention.
When you’re constantly multitasking, your brain has to keep switching its focus. This drains your energy too.The more you immerse yourself in your writing, the more you'll be able to write. Click To Tweet
If you find it difficult to immerse yourself, start off by doing it for short periods of time. Several short sessions where your writing has your full attention will be much more productive than one long session where you’re doing several things at once.
Slowly increase your writing time as the days go on. You’ll soon find it easy to switch off and begrudge anyone or anything that interrupts you.
Know what you’re going to write
This isn’t just about planning out your project in full—although I’m a big advocate for that—it’s also about planning out each writing session.
When you know what you want to achieve in each writing session, it gives you a clear start and end point. It stops you from writing random scenes that don’t serve any purpose just to make up your word count.
Say goodbye to TV time, hello to reading time
While mooching in front of the TV may sound like fun, it doesn’t make you a better writer.
The only way watching TV will make you a better writer is if you a) want to become a screenwriter, and b) analyse what you watch.
The best way to become a better writer is to immerse yourself in the words of your predecessors.
Read the work of those who write in your genre, but also those who write outside of it. That way, you won’t fall into tropes and stereotypes.
Cut down on your game time
It’s even easier to waste a day gaming than it is watching TV.
The best games are like a good book—they wrap you up in their world, and the next thing you know, half the day has gone (if not the whole day).
What makes games and TV so different is that in games, you have to think. TV is passive; gaming is not. That’s why I say to cut down on your game time, not cut it out entirely.
However, because gaming is such a huge time sink, you still need to cut back.
So, sadly, it may be time to cancel your WoW subscription to avoid the temptation of wasting your weekends in someone else’s fictional universe and work on creating your own instead.
Let the music play
Studies have shown that listening to music makes us more productive.
When I discovered this, it didn’t surprise me.
Listening to music helps us to block out external stimuli so that we can give our characters our full attention.Listening to music helps us to block out external stimuli so that we can give our characters our full attention. Click To Tweet
I also like to create playlists for different projects, characters, or moods. That way, I have a quick and easy way to focus on what I’m doing.
If you don’t have time to create your own playlists, Apple Music and Spotify have playlists for every occasion.
Create a routine
Have a set time of day when you write.
Many people like writing first thing.
Some prefer late at night, right before bed.
Me? I like to write after dinner.
The more often you write at a particular time of day, the more you’ll want to write at that particular time of day. Eventually, it’ll become a need. It’ll be such a habit that breaking it will make you uncomfortable.
Not everyone is able to create a routine because of shift work or family life. If this is you, create a ritual instead.
Have a particular place where you write, or a certain scarf that you only wear when it’s time to sit down with your characters.
The more you do your ritual before or during your writing session, the more you’ll come to associate it with writing and it will help to put you in the mood.
Give yourself fifteen minutes to do nothing but write.
Don’t worry about what you’re writing (although, as mentioned above, it helps to plan out your session).
Don’t filter what you write, either.
Trust yourself enough to free write
Free writing is a skill. It takes some time to build the muscles.
But if you put the work in, you can do it.
Free writing is how I once wrote 14,000 words on What Happens in London in a day.
It’s how I can write three blog post drafts in a day, after having been at work all day writing blog posts about a completely different subject.
Even if you don’t publish what you write that day, you’ve still flexed your writing muscles. That, in itself, is an achievement. You’re already further along than anyone who lets their self-doubt control them.
I worked on NaNoWriMo last year, and there’s a very high chance I’ll never return to that project.
But I don’t see the 50,000 words that I wrote last November as a waste. Every word I write helps me to become a better writer.Every word you write helps you to become a better writer. Click To Tweet
Over to You
What are your favourite writing and productivity tips?
Share them in the comments below 🙂
Want more writing and productivity tips?
I’ve got just the book for you!
Productivity for Writers is out now. It’s filled with all the tools you need to make 2018 your most productive year ever.
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