How to be the Most Productive Writer You Can Be: Another Angry Monster of Writing

Updated: Jun 28

If you've been a writer for very long you'll have noticed that it is difficult. There are monsters hiding behind your computer chair, sneaking up behind you when you've fallen asleep on the couch after a [very brief] writing session.

If you're not careful and if these monsters are left unchecked they will get in the way of you becoming the great writer that you are supposed to be.

So Let's Start Vanquishing!

In this post I'm going to be answering two questions:

1) What is a healthy way to think of my writing productivity?

2) What are some practical steps I can take to increase my productivity.

Part One: What is a healthy way to think of my writing productivity?

Rethink Your Writing Schedule

Ask yourself Do I Need to Write Everyday?

Let's face it, there's a lot of advice out there already on productivity.

Writers, editors, and publishers can enjoy a wide swad of online resources that are meant to encourage them, and teach them how to be more effective, and productive writers.

Most of these resources will say that it is important to write every day, and indeed in our first blog post of this series (Organizing Your Time), I talked about the importance of writing every day. So, I do agree with this concept in part.

But, I have more to say on the topic.

Manage Your Expectations as a Writer

Managing productivity is actually about managing expectations. You may be asking, who has expectations of a writer? Well, the writer does! And often those are the most strict, time-constraining expectations of all! When the writer is signed to a publisher, there may be some productivity expectations there. The same can be said about literary agents that expect a certain amount of material from their clients.

But what I want to talk most about today is managing the writer's expectations.

Remember: You are Your Harshest Critic

I've spent the last several years working with authors who are just beginning their careers, and I've noticed that they are often very hard on themselves, and their writing. Oftentimes, they'll hope for something that sounds more like Hemingway and feel like they've missed the bar if it doesn't (most writers miss that bar). They feel like they need to produce beautifully flowing prose or it isn't publishable. Now, I'm writing going off on a tangent here (good writing doesn't have to involve big words or poetic language), but the point is we are our harshest critics. And we often get in our own way of producing quality writing.

We are our harshest critics. And we often get in our own way of producing quality writing.

Stop Thinking of Writing as a Task

Writers become stressed out about the prospect of finishing their writing project because they have begun to think of it as a job instead of an enjoyable activity.

Writing is a creative outlet, It is an expression of the author's thoughts, feelings, experiences, and worldview. It is a deeply personal activity. It's not like any of your other household tasks. It should never be something that you 'just need to get done.' Creativity doesn't stand up to pressure very well.

And you may find that if you have thought of your writing as a task, you'll likely not write your best in those moments. When I fall into that, I often produce writing that is focused on telling instead of showing, or I involve a lot more cliches than I wanted to.

Appreciate the Process

Writing a novel takes months if not years, even for seasoned writers. Instead of focusing on how long it is taking you, think about how you have grown as a writer since the start of your project.

Part Two: What are some practical steps I can take to increase my productivity.

Have a Distraction-Free Writing Zone

There are so many distractions that can bombard us when it comes to writing a book on a computer. I mean there are video games, news websites, youtube videos to watch, and the broader internet to surf, not to mention social media! You can easily get stuck down a trail that you didn't mean to fall down- and spend an afternoon of writing-not writing one word. Depressing! If you know that this is one of your pitfalls, be sure to install an app that is designed to keep you focused on the task at hand: writing.

Here are a few suggestions:

Have a Calm & Relaxing Writing Space

First off, you need to have a space that is private and designed for writing. It is preferred that said space has a door that you can close. *Sigh, I am yet to have such a space!

The space that you write in makes a huge difference in your ability to settle down quickly and get into the amazing world that you've created. Some much-needed items in your writing space:

1) A desk that has tons of space. Make sure that you are not cramped.

2) A plant or two. You want to create a relaxing environment

3) Snacks and or a coffee machine. I know that I need a good fresh cup of coffee to refocus my brain, especially in the early morning.

4) A cozy chair. I use my cozy chair for brainstorming new ideas, instead of staring at a computer screen the entire time.

Start a Writing Ritual

A lot of my writer friends have a ritual that they begin right before they start to write. The ritual is meant to be a sign to the brain that this is the time for writing- much like a bedtime routine. The fun of developing such a ritual is that it can be as quirky as you'd like. Here are some ideas:

1) You wear special socks for writing

2) You have a special pen or pencil that you place on the right side of your laptop in case you have ideas that need to be written down instead of typed.

3) You do a set of exercises before you start

4) You blink your eyes 15 times

5) You play a certain song or read a piece of poetry.

Have fun formulating your ritual. And please be sure to send us the deets of what you came up with!


These questions are specially designed to get you thinking...

1) How do you ensure that you feel like you are doing enough writing to sustain the project, and balance your other life responsibilities?

2) Do you have a ‘writing ritual’?

3) How do you ensure that the time you do have devoted to writing, is being used in the most productive way possible? How do you avoid distractions?

4) What are some rules that you have for your writing sessions?

*Please write out your answers and send them to us either by email or DM us on Twitter @ThousandLived.


What does your writing space look like? Tweet us @ThousandLived with your photos!