10 Tips for Writing Productivity
by Emily Byrnes
#1. Take a shower, get dressed, and put on your favorite lipstick. I tend to be much less productive with ANYTHING I am doing when I’m in my pajamas. When I take a shower, slip on a cute (but always comfortable) outfit, and put on some boss-babe lipstick, I instantly feel like I can conquer the world. Or at least a few typed pages of fresh fiction.
#2. Set aside a little time each day for writing. I hear a variation of this all the time: I want to write, but I just don’t have time. You do have time. Trust me. Maybe you don’t have motivation, or maybe you don’t know where to start, but you do have time. If you set a timer for ten minutes a day and make yourself sit down and write (even if that means setting your alarm ten minutes earlier) that adds up to almost sixty hours of writing a year. This may sound like tough love, but if you want to write you have to stop using time as an excuse.
#3. Get off the couch. Sit at a desk or the kitchen table. Sitting upright and using a flat surface as opposed to my lap on the couch always signals to my brain that it is go-time. Also, I'm much less likely to accidentally turn "writing time" into "nap time."
#4. Make your workspace aesthetically pleasing. Transform your writing space into a place you actually want to be. Think a tidy room, a salt-lamp, peppermint oil in the diffuser, and all of the natural light you can get.
#5. Set goals. If you’re working on poetry, maybe your goal is finishing three poems. If you are working on fiction, maybe it is writing or editing a certain number of words or chapters. Even if the pieces aren’t perfect the first time around, you can always go back and revise them another day.
#6. Get out of your house. (Or, if you’re a millennial like me, your moderately-priced apartment). This is one step further than sitting at a desk. I always feel more productive when I go write at a coffee shop or a public library. If I make the effort to get out and set up somewhere, I feel like I have to write, and usually end up getting much more accomplished.
#7. Go back to abandoned projects. This is one way I tackle writer’s block. Sometimes I write little blurbs of fiction or poetry that I can’t seem to get just right and end up abandoning. Usually, when I go back and revist these projects months (or even years) later, something clicks and a once lackluster piece transforms into pure gold. Or at least silver.
#8. Take Breaks. Though I don’t believe in taking month-long hiatuses from writing, I do think taking brain breaks every hour or so can help make a writing session more productive. You can’t be productive if you get burned out, so putting down the pen and going for a walk or watching an episode of your favorite show can actually help you be more productive. As long as you go back to the writing when you’re done!
#9. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are not going to write the Next Great American Novel every time you sit down, and if you have a writing session that doesn’t yield any magic, don’t beat yourself up. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer or that time has been wasted. Don't get discouraged, and definitely don't give up!
#10. Put. Down. Your. Phone. I’m not kidding. I can’t tell you how many times I have resolved to have “writing time” and ended up down ten different rabbit holes of random Buzzfeed articles. An hour later, I know how “mercury in retrograde” is going to affect my love life that week, but I am still staring at a blank Google doc. Turn your phone on silent and leave it in another room so you aren’t even tempted to check it.