Friday, May 5, 2017

One Weird Trick for Boosting Your Writing Productivity

What's the difference between 10,000 word days and 500 word days? Or, maybe you're having a bit of writer's block and can't seem to stop surfing the net for a cure? We've all been there, trust me. What's the cure-all for slow writing days and days where you feel like you can't write anything at all?


There, I said it. Time.

When we feel as if a project is too big for us we freeze up. Maybe there's a pretty awesome fight scene you've outlined thoroughly, but when you're about to place pen to paper you worry--am I really fit to write this? I am ready?--and eventually, that worry turns to inaction. Not only have you not written the fight scene, but you've turned away from your word processor to google--fight scenes, fight scenes, fight scenes--and no article is turning up the information that you need. Trying to get past a block like this? It's easy.

Set a timer.

That's it. Set a writing timer for 30 minutes--maybe even just 10 minutes--and in that time, see what you can get done. Break the scary scene or the big bad project down into little blocks of 10-15 minute writing sprints. Then, tell yourself--I can do anything for ten minutes--because, the truth is, that you can. When we break seemingly impossible things down into bite sized chunks they don't seem so big and bad anymore. Like running a marathon or getting through one of George R.R. Martin's tome-sized novels, break it down into chunks if it seems too big, too dastardly, and begin again from there.

Novel writing is kind of like long distance running (to me, at least). Running that three miler, you're always going to feel like stopping. Your lungs will burn, your thighs will ache--but every moment, every second of that jog, you decide to keep going. That decision isn't something you just make at the beginning of the run and hold onto, it's a decision you continue to make every single time your sneakers hit the pavement--I'm going to keep going. I can do this. Just like in running, while writing you must consciously make the decision to keep going. Break it down if you have to, just keep writing. Because no one else can write your story like you. And it's a damn good feeling knowing you've done what most aspiring writers don't ever do--finish. You've finished the race.

Set a timer. 30 minutes on, 5 minutes off; and keep going. 

If you need some tools to add to your toolbox, I've got you covered. If you have an iPhone, I personally use the Focus Timer application. But, the truth is, you don't even have to download anything--iPhones have a timer right on the clock app!

As for Android users I recommend Ovo (it's got a beautiful interface).

This week I wrote my first beat sheet line for line, scene for scene. Normally I'm an organic writer, so why change now? Well, for me the difference between 500 word days and 10,000 word days is knowing what I'm going to write next before I write it. So, I've gone to the outlining side of things in the hopes of keeping up with a personal challenge of a book a month (NaNoWriMo every month! Can you believe that?). 

Have any suggestions for timers? Or maybe I've missed something? Tell me in the comments!


  1. This is simple, but really helpful. I've been procrastinating since the Christmas holidays and feeling miserable about it, but this might be the trick that gets me moving again - thanks!

    1. Don't beat yourself up, everyone procrastinates. High five yourself for wanting to get back into it :) Happy writing!


Thank you for your feedback!