Unproductiveness is a nasty little dragon that grows ginormous at the most inconvenient times. For instance, during the last week of NaNoWriMo, I was stuck on my story, so I decided to type up the portion I had handwritten and try to fix some of the problems. I hoped to complete the task before November 30th so I could still hit 50,000 words.
The problem? I needed to put a new shelf in the living room, which facilitated a rearrangement of over half the space. Afterwards, instead of working on my novel, I sat down to share a few tips with you that I need to follow!
Tip #1: Find the Right Time
Every day will be different, but forming a routine will prevent you from procrastinating. For me, the best time to write is as soon as I wake up and have finished my personal devotions. I prefer and recommend this plan because it helps me view myself as a serious writer and accomplish more writing the rest of the day even if I’m busy. It also keeps ideas flowing whether I have a pen in hand or not.
If your time in the morning is limited due to a job, school, or family responsibilities, try rising earlier. Even fifteen minutes will give you extra time to write. Every word counts, and by the end of the week you’ll probably have added at least five hundred to your manuscript that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Words on the page are always a win!
If you can’t write in the morning, nothing is wrong with that. You can still apply the principle of consistency to another time of day. Maybe you could stay up fifteen minutes later at night.
Tip #2: Make Notes
Spend the last minute or two of your sessions jotting reminders about what needs to happen over the next part of your scene or chapter. This will enable you to immediately pick up where you left off without having to review the previous pages. In fact, some authors suggest intentionally pausing in the middle of a scene because it will jumpstart your momentum when you return.
Your notes don’t need to be complete thoughts. Just include enough information to jog your memory. If I had to stop to prepare supper while I was working on a scene where my protagonist, Timothy, is in a war zone, my notes would look like this:
- Starts with cannons firing on both sides
- Mud affects them somehow
- It’s raining
- Timothy gets injured
- Incorporate the five senses
Tip #3: Be Strict
If you set a time for writing, don’t let other activities invade or distract you—especially those precious fifteen minutes in the morning/night! Sometimes the dragon of unproductiveness will dangle your to-do list in front of your nose to tempt you to check off an item besides writing, but ignore him. Disconnect your Wi-Fi or use an app such as Cold Turkey that locks your computer until you reach either a time or word quota.
Tip #4: Tell Others Your Schedule
Inform the people around you about your writing routine so they know it’s sacred and not to seek your attention until you’ve emerged. You might want to be interrupted if a purple-and-pink spotted elephant is stomping through town and headed straight for your house. But only for dire emergencies like that.
The first half of NaNoWriMo was challenging because my husband was home more than usual, and he tended to start talking or ask my opinion while I was writing. That caused me to lose my train of thought and struggle to move forward with my story. Oftentimes, family and friends will have difficulty taking your writing time seriously, but helping them understand your need for quiet will allow you to write longer and more effectively. As Brené Brown says, “If you don’t put value on your work, no one is going to do that for you.”
Treat writing as a priority, and not only will you slay unproductiveness, but you’ll also boost your confidence and show others your dedication.
Stop Reading and Start Writing
Uninterrupted writing time is priceless. Over New Years, I visited my family for an extended period, and they have an eight-year-old and a two-year-old. Because of the noise and chaos, I couldn’t concentrate on the writing and editing I brought along. I did manage to revamp my website (are you sensing a pattern here?), but now I’m behind on some of my personal deadlines.
Figure out a strategy that will free your writing time of disturbances. And, remember, trading writing for another task won’t get your book done. So, close your internet browser and open up your manuscript!
Faith Blum is a small-town Wisconsin girl. She’s lived in, or outside of, small towns her whole life. The thought of living in a city with more than 60,000 people in it scares her, especially after some interesting adventures driving through big cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.
Faith currently resides in the middle of Wisconsin with her husband and their cat, Smokey. She is blessed to be able to have writing as her full-time career, with household work and cooking to do on the side.
When not writing, you can find her cooking food from scratch due to food allergies, doing dishes, knitting, crocheting, sewing, reading, or spending time with her husband. She is also a community assistant for the Young Writers Workshop and loves her work there. She enjoys hearing from her readers, so feel free to contact her on her website.