Productivity is a word we use a lot in general. In writer’s circles, advice on how to improve your output is everywhere.
- Write every day
- Don’t outline
- Write first thing in the morning
- Set a writing routine
- Make a word count goal and write until you achieve it
- Get out of your house and away from distraction
And on and on and on. You could make yourself dizzy reading all of the suggestions and recommendations. As authors – shoot, as human beings – we all want to do more with less time. Everyone has a lot of advice on how to achieve that but I’m going to tell you what most people won’t.
You have to find what works for you.
Trial and error is your friend. It allows you to experiment with new ideas. You can utilize the ones that work and throw away the ones that don’t. Writing is a creative process and, like most things in life, there is no clear answer for everyone. If there was, you wouldn’t have a bunch of different articles written on how to increase your productivity!
It took me a long time to come up with a writing method that works for me. I’m still refining it. Which brings me to my next point.
Even when you find the right routine, there are days it won’t work.
That’s sounds discouraging but it shouldn’t. I love those days when I sit down at my computer and pound out a couple thousand words.
It’s magical and I feel awesome. The story is flowing, the characters work, and it’s hard to tear yourself away from writing. However, not every day is like that. There are times when I sit down to write and the little cursor mocks me. The words don’t come, everything I put down is all wrong and my plot feels off.
Is my writing system the problem? My book? Or am I just having an off day? Ninety percent of the time, it’s the latter. If I walk away and clean the house, or take a walk, or just go read a book for a while and try again in an hour, things feel better. There have been the occasional days when no matter what I do, the scene just does not work. In these cases, I work on something else. It’s amazing to me how often, while writing something else entirely, my brain solves whatever problem I’m having.
The main point is: don’t get caught up in the productivity. Yes, it’s important, but it’s more valuable to grow as a writer. If you work to find a system that helps you become a better writer, the productivity will develop naturally as a result and you’ll be a lot happier.