This one is for you… and me!
Throughout the writing time and space, how to be productive remains an unavoidable source of questioning and, let’s be real here, anxiety for writers.
Routine. Time block. Discipline. Outlines.
Pomodoro method. Writing Sprints. Daily word count.
Yeah, sure. What else?
A writer’s capacity to put words on the page, within a self-imposed or boss-imposed time frame, is the mother source of stress… as well as a weird peer pressure inducer.
It can easily lead to self-doubt or self-deprecation; even to writing burnout.
That’s where those good productivity hacks and tips are coming in handy.
As you know, there’s an actual business built around productivity.
Since most north-Americans ask themselves the burning question often enough, plenty of pros have come up with ways to tackle it.
However, for writers and authors, being productive isn’t a quality pledge.
Writing 5000 words in record time is great, as long as we don’t spend record time re-writing the whole thing.
Constantly feeling the pressure of having to be productive can be, in fact, counterproductive.
You know the feeling.
The first week, wow, how the words happily flow. We’re so proud of yourself. We’re doing it like the pros.
The second week, it’s a bit more tiring, so we start to beat ourselves up for not being as efficient as the last time.
And so on, and so forth.
The very first rule when we go on trying to be productive or more productive should be taking our time to assess what we’re at.
Tired? cranky? stressed out because, argh, a darn traffic jam on the bridge, or a costly emergency trip to the dentist?
By being kind to ourselves and taking the time to reflect on our mental state, we can adjust our daily or weekly goals, hopefully minus the guilt.
However, for sure, there will always be a day like this…
Most Of The Time
You know the drill.
Problems at the office.
Neighbours having a karaoke party.
Kids wake up with stomach cramps at 4am.
Days (or evenings or nights !) like this happen. Of course, it may fuel our creativity… or bust our writing mojo.
The productivity tips down below – tested by yours truly – may help you get many hundreds of words on the page.
Most of the time anyway.
- The Classics
The first classic: writing sprints.
Either alongside the online writer’s community or by yourself using the Pomodoro Method, writing sprints are a great way to get words on the page.
25 minutes long is my preferred length, but it’s nice to vary.
On AuthorTube, I like the ones hosted by Kate Cavanaugh, Courtney from The Courtney Project and Vivien Reis.
The second classic: off with the Internet, off with the Phone.
Since this one’s pretty self-explanatory, moving on to the next!
Third: block time to write.
If you’re a parent or a caregiver, I hope you’ll be able to find people you can trust, willing to take care of things for three or four hours.
(Don’t wait for the writing muse in there. Pretty unreliable I’m afraid. Nine times out of ten, she’s off partying with her muse gals anyway, so.)
Fourth: 5am writer’s club
Whenever I have the energy, I make a point to wake up well before dawn and join the 5 am writer’s club.
I love the quiet, I love the feeling of being alone with the story. Most of all, I LOVE the no-interruption part.
I’m with the Twitter 5 am writer’s club, but I use to participate in early writer’s sprints on AuthorTube too.
If you know about 5 am writer’s club on other socials place, let us know!
Fith: writing routine
It can be 5 times a week, 3, 2. Establish a writing routine and stick to it for three months or so. Simply remember to re-evaluate often, so you don’t end up disappointed or worse, discouraged.
- The Hacks
Having a writing corner set up is part of my writing routine. When I’m sitting there, it’s to write. Not to pay the bills, not to deal with kids’ stuff. To write.
But when nothing’s working, I switch places.
Kitchen table, couch, coffee table.
If I have time, I go to the library or a coffee shop, depending on the budget.
Author Alexa Donne uses this hack (and many more) to stay motivated toward her writing goals.
A paper agenda on which she writes her daily writing goals. For every 500 words written, she gets a sticker.
It may sound a school-ish, but it works.
Doesn’t have to be stickers too. It can be 500 words = one episode of that show you wish you could just binge away.
In my case, it’s 1500 words = evening off.
Know thyself, fellow writer.
Some authors are writing 2000 words a day, others wake up at 4am and write by hand and others recorded their books while driving to work or dropping the kids at daycare/school.
Yes, you’re worth it. No, you’re not selfish.
Sleep decent hours, get that pretty bottom moving, eat way more veggies than ultra-process food – veggies on ordered or frozen pizza doesn’t count (agreed, it’s unfortunate.).
The « That’s not helping » Productivity Tips
An un-productive writing tip? Is there such a thing?
Writing every day.
Yes, of course. It might work for some.
However, I feel confident in giving this piece of advice: if you must write every day, take a three or four weeks breather every now and then.
Those creative batteries need time to recharge. So do we.
Planning ahead (way too much).
Making list. Oh, how good I am at making list!
I love it too. Everything, tasks, rendezvous, writing time.
All neatly put, one thing to do after the other.
I feel the joy!
Yet, dear fellow writers, I find that nearly every time I plan too much ahead, resentment or frustration arises.
Because, yes, life happens! And a good thing it does too.
Easy on the planning than, especially if you’re a parent of very young children.
Learning to multitask.
Multitasking is the best way to do everything half-ass – pardonnez mon français.
We are humans. Not computers. Our brain functions best when it can tackle one task at a time.
(ps: Any job offer asking you to be good with multitasking is either cheap, uncaring or ill-organized. More probably, all of it.)
Chores will be dealt with before or after the time we block to write.
If that is not a possibility, time to learn to delegate instead of trying to be a human octopus!
Write and Carry On
Fellow writers, we choose a singular path. It takes time to write.
No matter how you tackle it, putting words on the page is a work of patience, dedication, and passion.
And I intend to enjoy every single minute of it. I sure hope the same for you!
Until next time, take care, dear fellow writers.
© 2022 Marie Alice