If you have ever experienced writer’s block, the stress of an approaching deadline or have grappled with the big question “Where To Begin?”, then this article is for you.
Whether you’re trying to commit to a blog post for a day, or finish a book or a dissertation, most writers long to be more productive. No matter how demanding your schedule or how expert a procrastinator you are, these tips will amp up your productivity:
Write every day
Cormac McCarthy once said that he only writes when he’s inspired, but he’s inspired every day. If you’re a writer who is looking to take your writing career to the next level, the first thing you should focus on is writing every day.
Though living your life and culling inspiration from it can be important parts of the writing process, there is no substitute for the actual writing process.
Imagine the volume of words you’ll be able to produce if you commit to writing on a daily basis. Sure, they won’t all be gems, but the more you write the more you start taking yourself seriously as a writer.
Like any other skill, practice leads to improvement. Musicians practice their scales, athletes are put through their paces and writers write. No athlete ever became great by practicing when they felt like it. Imagine an Olympic runner trying to go for the gold having only stepped on the track once a month.
Writing every day will train your writing “muscles”, thus making you a better, more productive writer.
Write in the mornings
One of the best ways to cut out procrastination is to commit to a morning writing schedule. If the first thing you do in the morning is writing, it will be difficult for you to find excuses for not doing it.
By making it the priority of your day, you won’t be able to use all the other things that come up on a daily basis as an excuse not to write (“Oh, I couldn’t write today because my sister needed me to help her file her tax returns.” or “Oh, my car broke down, the dog got sick, I cut my finger making lunch…”).
There are very few emergencies and distractions that will interrupt you first thing in the morning unless you’re a new parent or a stock trader waiting for the markets to open in Tokyo. Barring those things, mornings will salvage your writing productivity like nothing else can.
Grap a cup of joe, a notebook and your best thoughts, and get to writing.
Think about the future
In your last five minutes of writing, you should start to think about what you want to write next. Based on the ideas you’ve produced that day, think about possible ideas for next steps.
This is a great way to take advantage of the momentum of writing that’s already flowing as well as preventing you from sitting down and being blocked the next day.
These lists of last five minute ideas may seem like nothing at the time, but they become your treasure chest to use in the future.
Realize that perfection does not exist
Here’s a beautiful piece of inspiration from Leonard Cohen: “Ring the bells that still can ring/ Forget your perfect offering./ There are cracks in everything/ That’s how the light gets in.” Don’t try to write The Great American Novel. Just write.
Some of your writing will be embarrassingly bad. The majority of the world’s greatest writers wrote some horrifically bad stuff while in the process of becoming “the world’s greatest writers”.
If a new piano student sat down on his first day, hoping to play like Rachmaninov, his disappointment will be so great that he may never play again. Writing is a fascinating process of taking a formless idea and putting form to it. Sometimes you make a masterpiece and sometimes you make a mess. Keep trying. The trying is what allows the masterpieces to manifest.
It’s helpful to create habits that signal your brain that it’s time to enter writing mode. The trigger could be as simple as using the same desk and chair at the same time every day.
Or making a cup of tea and sitting down with it while you start to write. Or listening to a specific piece of music while you write. Creating a ritual can be helpful in getting yourself in a writerly mood.
Increasing your productivity is a matter of discipline and getting your priorities straight. It can be accomplished by anyone with the will to try.
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What do you do to get the pen on paper? Share your tips in the comments below!