Monday, August 28, 2017

What's one thing you've done to become a more productive writer?


Stephanie here! Next week we'll be back to business as usual here on the blog, I'm going to be talking about being a shiny object chaser, which is true for most creatives I know. We mostly think of our tendency to get distracted as a bad thing, but there are good parts too, and we'll explore those next Monday, September fourth.

Also, Go Teen Writers Notes will resume next week. This is an email we send out every two weeks(ish) that's meant to provide encouragement to you in your writing life. When you subscribe, you get a tutorial on creating a story workbook, which is a tool of mine that has been evolving since 2008 when I signed my first contract.

The last panel question I get to ask this summer (*sniff sniff*) is, "What's one thing you've done to  become a more productive writer?"



Shannon Dittemore
I fight for my writing days. Like everyone I know, I’m busy. And when you’re the one who’s home all day, it’s easy to be asked to just watch someone’s kids for a sec, or take care of this one little thing, or be the team mom (VETO!). But I’ve had to learn to say No. It’s not easy at first, but once you see how productive a normal work schedule makes you, you’ll suffer through the awkward conversations without giving in. For the record, I only have three dedicated writing days a week. The other four days are full of activities with and for others, but I protect Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday as violently as I can.

Jill Williamson
I’m plenty productive. For me, that’s not the problem. The problem is that I end up cutting so much of what I wrote. Technically, what I’m doing is discovery writing. Since I haven’t had enough time to fully develop my stories, I end up cutting tens of thousands of words. In my Kinsman Chronicles, I cut over one hundred thousand words between all three books. That’s the length of a full novel! When I see that happen, it feels like I’m not being productive, like I’m wasting words. I’m continually reminding myself that those words were helpful to find the true story. And I know that if I give myself more time to fully develop my next project, I won’t need to cut so many words.




Stephanie Morrill
Like Shan mentioned in her comment, my "secret" to productivity has been developing a routine and guarding it. That looks different as life seasons change, but I think that's the best thing you can do to be a productive writer.

Same as Jill, I usually don't struggle with being productive. Usually, I want to be writing, and it doesn't feel hard to me to say no to lunch with friends or shopping or whatever, because I love my work so much.

But when my personal life is hard, like it has been this month, that's when I struggle to be productive. That's when I start to fall into the trap of, "I'll just take today to clean/read/Netflix binge, and then tomorrow I'll get back to my manuscript..." Usually my house is very clean during these weeks, but I'm not doing the work that feeds my soul. I find that what helps me get back in the groove is starting small. I'll tell myself, "Once I write for 25 minutes, then I can mindlessly scroll through Instagram," or whatever activity feels more appealing that writing.Often after 25 minutes, I feel motivated to keep going with writing.

Also, I'm a to-do list girl. Something that has helped me to feel productive and happy in novel writing is to keep a log of when I'm working. I treat it like a time card. I note what time I started working and what time I stopped, and I specify what part of the novel I worked on. If checking things off a list makes you happy, I would encourage you to try this. 


What about you? Have you learned any tricks that help you to be more productive?

15 comments:

  1. I don't think I've found the one thing that keeps me productive. Lately, my writing has been slacking off, but I hope to get back in to productivity soon once I fully recover from this cold.

    One thing is I write when I can. In the morning, after Bible study, I have a good twenty-thirty minutes that I used to waste by doing nothing. I didn't think I could get enough words in with that time. I decided to try and found I could get upwards of 1,000 words in. I was so happy to see that the number was much larger than I thought.

    So, fitting in writing when I can is super important to me, especially with my schedule.

    Thank y'all for having this question series for the summer. It was fun to see what y'all and others had to say. But I can't wait to see the awesome posts you'll come up with for Fall.
    God bless y'all! <3

    ~Ivie
    iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    1. Yes, so much this! That was one thing I learned from NaNo last year. Even five minutes can make the difference of a couple hundred words extra.

      That's a good chunk of words too. You go, girl! :)

      -Ann

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    2. I really struggle to write when I'm sick. Have grace for yourself, Ivie!

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  2. I used to slack off all the time, but all month I've been utilizing a new method. I call it my writing log. Every day when I write, I check my word count and record it in my log. I'm not sure how much I wrote before, but I tend to be a numbers person, so my log has been helping me. I am currently averaging around 1200 words a day.

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    1. That's awesome. I may have to try that. I used to write in a journal entry about how many words I wrote that day and what I worked on, but I couldn't keep up. I may have to try again.

      Thanks for the idea, Gwen! <3

      ~Ivie
      iviewrites.blogspot.com

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    2. Good for you! Keep on keeping on. :)

      -Ann

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    3. YES. Tracking my word count has been huge for me too!

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    4. I do this, too! I usually keep a to-do list in my journal, and I've started drawing a line long enough for four-digit numbers in front of the name of my writing project. I aim for a bare minimum of 1,000 and a preferred goal of 2,000 or more. This pushes me to keep plugging through the tough scenes (almost 100,000 words into my draft, this means most scenes) and making progress.

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  3. Being consistent with writing is a big thing, but I guess the most recent trick for me would be finding different activities that stimulate my creativity. Latch hooking or walking my dogs, for instance helps refresh my creativity. When I need a break I do those things, rather than surfing the web, or playing video games, which distracts rather than helps.

    Keeping my brain focused, helps me to come back to writing quicker.

    -Ann

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    1. There's science that backs that up too, Ann. I can't remember what it's called right now, but when Einstein was stuck on an equation or theory, he used to play the violin.

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  4. Echoing some of what others have said: learning to say no (soooo hard!), tracking my word count (very helpful for me), setting goals (and mini goals to help me reach the big ones), and occasionally doing word sprints or timing myself. Also putting my phone in another room or at least out of reach helps when it becomes a distraction. :)

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    1. YES. I put mine on silent so I'm not distracted by all the notifications.

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  5. I like to brainstorm upcoming scenes while taking a walk or doing dishes. That becomes a problem when I think scenes through in detail or go too far ahead. Then when I sit down to write, I either forget the parts that made it meaningful in my mind or don't want to rehash all my ideas to put on paper. To maximize my writing, sometimes I have to keep my brainstorming to a structural minimum and actually write my ideas.
    Great ideas, everyone!

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  6. I don't know if this is answering the question or not, but sometimes, when I can't think of what to write, I'll come up with random conversations and then write a scene that the conversation could be used in. I did that last night, and I ended up writing two pages in about five minutes. XD

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  7. The great irony of this post is that I got suckered into team mom duties this year. I think, maybe, I need to work on my fierce face.

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