Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Six Month Writing Report Card

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
June is half over, which means we’re almost halfway through the year, which means, of course, that I’m halfway through my goals for the year, right? Arggg!

Writing is definitely progressing better than it did last year, but it’s not hard to see my current pace isn’t going to get me where I want to be by the end of the year. People build houses in less than six months. Why can’t I finish a story in that time?

The reasons are many, and being a slow writer is definitely one of them, but even taking that into account, I still find my wheels spinning far too often.  So I’ve decided to make some
changes in the way I approach my writing.

Rearrange my writing activities to maximize work flow. I’m no longer at the point in my writing journey where I can jump onto the computer for a quick ten or fifteen minute spurt of writing and get much accomplished. I need more time to slip into the fictive dream. So instead of concentrating on whatever I think is most urgent at the moment (writing a blog post, reading other people’s blogs, critting/editing/reviewing a book, writing my book, etc.), I’m going to arrange the priorities to better match my habits. For example, less working on my story at night when my muse is too tired to be inventive. Reading other blogs during the evening instead of the morning when my muse is at its best.

Keeping up with other blogs in a timely manner. In a followup to the previous paragraph, I plan to develop a schedule for keeping track of the blogs I follow. Instead of haphazardly reading them whenever I think of it, I’ll align my blog reading habits with the posting habits of each blogger. To be honest, I’ve always been pretty bad about scheduling stuff (just ask my wife), but I do find that it works well for me when I force myself to do it.

Setting the mood. I’ve  previously posted about my problem with playlists and how anything other than ambient soundtracks distracts me from writing. I recently discovered that white noise brings out my muse, so I dragged an old, noisy, air filter unit into my office at home. I seriously doubt it filters the air much after all these years, and I have no idea how much mold it’s spraying into the room, but the sound it generates lets me tune out the rest of the world. Recordings of thunderstorms also do the trick.

Not being so stubborn. Sometimes, when I get hung up on a scene or chapter, I insist on banging my head against the keyboard for days (even weeks) trying to make headway instead of moving on to some other chapter for a while. I don’t want to fall into the habit of running away every time I hit a difficult scene, but I think working on a different chapter for a few hours every now and then will help get the writing juices flowing again. It’s the way I used to write back before I joined crit groups that expect a constant (and linear) flow of words, so we’ll see how well that goes. 

What have you done to increase your writing productivity?



  1. For me it's all about the routine. I did watch a podcast from an Indie who talked about increasing her daily writing tally to 10K words a day. She gave several suggestions and ideas, but the one that got me the most was the fact that our brains are primed to function most potently at certain times of the day. She said to try out different slots of time and chart your progress to learn where your sweet spot is.

    Kind of blew my mind.

  2. Oh I know when my muse functions the best. In the morning, which is kind of surprising since I'm not a morning person. Unfortunately, I'm driving to work about that time, so I can only take advantage of this on Saturdays. Assuming I get up in time, of course. :)

  3. I use bloglovin' to keep track of blogs and keep tabs on it while I'm at work and can't write. Once I'm home, blogs get ignored.

    Sounds like you've got a pretty good plan for productivity. Hope it works out well!

  4. An old air filter - that's funny! Whatever works, Ken.
    I have to block out several hours to write. I can't get much done in fifteen minutes.
    Make it happen now!

  5. You just gave me an anxiety attack. I was supposed to be done w/ my WIP by now and starting on the revisions. Instead I'm struggling with a new household schedule that has me all upside down, especially my best writing time. Which means rearranging everything to accommodate that. Arrrgh. But it's also a good thing.

    I use Feedly to track blogs, which was down last week. And I'm down to 1x a week to maximize my writing time.

    However, I did a brief outline and started Backworlds #6. So, that's something.

  6. These are all great, great, great tools and tricks. It's so important to know your own habits and the things that help rather than hinder you. I NEED to do these for myself - so thank you for the reminder!

  7. I'm with you on playlists with lyrics. Can't write like that either. And only certain instrumentals work.

    I use Feedly to follow blogs, and within that I even have different groups (Friends & Critters, Writers 1, Writers 2, etc.) I start with 'Friends,' then go down the list of groups depending on how much time I have that day. I couldn't keep up without a service like Feedly.

    I'm thinking I need to switch my writing time with the new summer schedule.I typically like to get my email and blog checked upon rising and make sure nothing pressing needs my attention, but I often get sucked into the social media black hole. Maybe I need to try, like some other writers I know, and write first before ever even opening my browser.

  8. I haven't written anything new since I finished a novella in February. I may take a leaf out of your book and consider the best times to blog/write/Facebook. And I really need something to shake my muse out of her slumber!

  9. Everyone seems to take issue with how to keep up with other people's blogs. Maybe I'm just not following that many because it's not much of an issue for me.

    When it concerns writing, my routine is important and figuring out the right one is even more so. I write best at night, so I make sure I'm done with everything else beforehand so I can just focus on that. I also choose certain days to write and try to take even a couple of days (or a weekend) off to get other things done. My writing days kind of exclude a lot of other activities, so diverting them to other non-writing days is needed.

    All of this has helped me when my creativity is flowing, at least. I like that you figured out that hearing ambient noise helps you create. I wonder if something like that would work for me, since music is distracting to me, too.

  10. I think that figuring out a routine is important. I write well late at night, when everything is quiet. But I've heard that morning writing can be highly productive when your mind is partially awake/not completely distanced from sleep-mode, so I need to try the early morning at some stage... just to see what happens with regards to creativity...
    Some people say that their writing habits are also affected by the seasons.
    Writer In Transit

  11. My problem tends to be other people. they rarely respect my schedule and always have something very important that needs doing (by me) immediately. If I could just send my family on holiday for a couple of months...