#1. DON'T WAIT FOR INSPIRATION
Yes, I'm only 21 years old, but until last year I was always one to wait for inspiration because I couldn't think of anything to write. But at the end of December, I told myself: "Write this novel next month."
And that's what I did. I started writing and writing and writing. The more I wrote, the easier it got. The easier it got, the more I wanted to write. Granted, when I say "easy," I mean I spent less time thinking in front of a screen, and more time typing and thinking at the same time. At first it took me about 8-9 hours to write 4,000 words a day, but I increased to a whopping 11,000 words a day!
Because I don't wait for inspiration. I sit and WRITE until I meet my goal. Sometimes I blow right on by and keep going.
#2. DON'T GET DISTRACTED
Easy enough to say...practically impossible to follow. But by all that is good on this earth, please, please, pleeeaaase avoid distractions at all costs. Maybe warm up by looking at some writing quotes for motivation, but get off the internet as soon as possible. Hit the "internet connection key" on your laptop (yes, you can turn Wifi off on laptops), and open your book, short story, poem...whatever.
|Your brain will feel this one in the morning.|
If you are writing a blog, either write it on a word processor first, or force yourself to stay away from other websites. If you have to be on the internet, take SHORT breaks.
But preferably, don't get online. Go for a walk, drink some coffee, make a phone call. Anything. Distractions are bad unless they're good. And for most writers, the latter isn't the case.
#3. DON'T WRITE AT HOME, IN YOUR ROOM, ETC
Why? Because you do everything else there. You eat, sleep, clean, use the bathroom, watch TV, cook, socialize...everything.
When I'm at my house, or in my dorm room at school, I cannot concentrate. I get nothing done. Ever. I'm too distracted and end up on Youtube or Pinterest or Facebook, or watching TV, playing games, all that. So I go to Starbucks. And what do I do?
|It has a nice view, doesn't it?|
99% of the time I spend in Starbucks I spend writing. Write somewhere you can ONLY write. Make it YOUR WRITING PLACE. You will be so productive. I guarantee it. Make it routine.
Not your house, unless you lock yourself in a dusty attic.
#4. MAKE A ROUTINE
The only way to get better at writing is to write every day. No matter if it's a paragraph or 10 pages, GET IT DONE.
Every little bit is progress. It's a step further than you were the day before...a.k.a. a step closer to your goal. If it helps you reach your goal, why wouldn't you want it?
So write at the same time, every day. Avoid switching it up. You will train your body to settle into this and you will be every bit more productive because of it. I promise.
Why did I go to Starbucks at the same time every day? Because that was my routine. That was my designated writing time. What do you do for classes? Go to them at the same time every scheduled day. What about work? You go to work every day at the same time. What about breakfast, lunch, and dinner? They might vary, but still, almost the same time every day.
If everything else fits in so well, why should writing be any different?
#5. WRITE SOMETHING BESIDES YOUR MAIN PROJECT
Writing in a different style and genre helps you exercise your skills. Developing this craft is not just learning how to write your book. It's about learning how to write several. Blogging, classwork, communication with followers, short stories, and poetry on the side.
Create something besides what you are primarily focused on. Not only will you gain new skills and learn new styles that could help you with different projects, but who knows? Maybe you'll gain a fanbase. Followers. People who WANT to read what you write because you put yourself out there for them.
|I think you took my advice too seriously.|
Put your dignity aside. Let people read that chapter, or that poem. Let them enjoy it and criticize it. It will help. You will become better because they will catch things you didn't. The only thing that is truly impossible is editing a whole book by yourself. You will miss something. Guaranteed, 100%. But other people WILL catch mistakes, and your writing will benefit.
#6. FORGET YOUR DIGNITY
Yeah, exactly what I just said in the last tip. Let people read your work. Let them see your style. Let them help. Grow some thick skin.
Come on. Get used to it. If you want people to read your work later, why not start now. Some might scoff, especially if it's a first draft (I cannot emphasize that enough). IT'S A FIRST DRAFT FOR A REASON. There are mistakes. It's not pretty. At all. Don't even TRY to tell yourself it is.
Your first draft sucks, but you don't. You're a writer. Who put those words on that paper? YOU. Not the person who talks about writing a book one day. They didn't write one.
So give it to a lot of people who want to read your work. Different opinions are pure gold. Here's a trick: ask people to read for content. What they think of the plot and events and characters. They'll give you an honest opinion.
#7. DON'T EDIT LONG PORTIONS IF YOU'RE STILL WRITING THE MANUSCRIPT
Some people like editing while in progress, and some wait till they are completely finished. It's a personal choice. But what I've found to work best for me is this: If I repeatedly catch myself making an error, I fix it, then go back to random points in the story and fix it. FIVE MAXIMUM. Then I continue with the story.
Fixing in pieces lets your mind recuperate. Keep focused on one problem at a time and you'll keep moving along at the same pace. Sometimes I discover a plot hole, or forget some part of the story's history, and have to search for it. When I find what I'm looking for, I edit that paragraph, then return to the bottom of the story.
Try to wait a week (or more) after you write the last word before you delve into serious editing. Your mind will be fresh and mistakes will pop out at you.
#8. DON'T FORGET TO SLEEP
The worst thing you can do is lose sleep to writing. Fatigue KILLS creativity. You'll keep daydreaming. Yes, daydreaming is good for writers, but not when you should be writing and your mind keeps going blank because you're so tired.
Get some sleep, THEN write. Maybe write when you first wake up. Write your dream. Remember how I said writing in as many different genres and mediums is beneficial? Writing dreams is the exact same thing. Besides, our minds tend to come up with some pretty crazy stuff. Maybe your next novel is hidden in them?
So sleep. You'll feel better, stay productive, and your brain might decide to give you a bestseller as an act of gratitude.
#9. OBSERVE EVERYTHING AND KEEP NOTES, AND NOT IN YOUR HEAD
Every person you see, every animal walking across the road, every leaf in the wind, dent in the car, and cut on the knee has a story. Find it. No, don't go up and ask someone how they got into a car accident unless you really want to, but create a story for everything. It's there. Find it. Make it. Writers create anyways, so this can help develop more stories.
Don't stalk people. That's creepy.
Just sit down and watch society function. Watch workers deliver supplies, or students get their coffee before heading to class. Write it down. Your memory doesn't count. WRITE IT DOWN. Put your observations in a notebook or iPod or something. Anything that you can hold in your hands.
|"Oh God, what is it like in your funny little brains.|
It must be so boring."
Do you want to cut open your head and hold your brain? No. So stick the observations somewhere else, because no matter how good your memory is, YOU WILL FORGET someday. And if you don't, ASSUME YOU WILL. Got it?
#10. DO WHAT YOU DO, AND DON'T LISTEN TO ANYONE ELSE
People will think you're crazy for writing every day. They'll ask how you have soooo much time on your hands, or that you don't have a life, or any of the other million offensive things they don't realize they're saying (Click here to read 20 Annoying Things People Say to Writers).
Don't pay attention to them. What do they do? They have their own set of interests which they make time in their day for, yet they think they can dictate what we do with ours?
I know people who go to the gym at the same time every day. Cool. That's what they do. We take the time to write. We write books, and those same people might read those books. If we didn't take the time to WRITE that book, they wouldn't have read it. Make sense?
So do what you do. If you enjoy writing, nobody can stop you. Even if the world stripped us bare, we could still close our eyes and think about the same exact things we were writing about. We would still live our lives...minus the luxury. We can still tell stories with our minds and voices. What would other people be? Lost, or listening to us talk.
Hmm, maybe writers can rule the world!
What else can you do to stay productive as a writer? Comment below!
Enjoy this post? Check out these others: