Friday, April 27, 2012

10 Tips on Becoming a More Productive Writer.

With a night job, a family, and a tiny house full of kids, animals, and my T.V. addicted husband, writing can be hard for me sometimes. My office is a TV dinner table in the living room. So yeah, I repeat: writing can be hard. However, I've been averaging between two and three thousand words a day. How have I been doing this in the midst of such chaos (as seen below)? Here's some tips.

But at least my muses stand guard over my "office."

1.) Progress Bars. I swear by these. Say you're at 15K...but if you add just 500 more measly words, the percentage will go higher. It can be very addicting but motivating. As you can see, I have three up right now. I've left the 100% completed project up because it's another bar to measure the others against as well as a reminder that you have completed something and thus can do it again.

2.) Announcing your goal for the day. For one thing, doing so is declaring a concise commitment. For another you feel more obligated to fulfill it. Also, having your online buddies rooting you on really helps.

3.) Make a deadline. If you don't have a set due date for each draft of your manuscript, you can be very tempted to flounder and perhaps even give up. Some of you may already have a deadline from your publisher. In that case I still recommend making your own. Try to get it done earlier. If you succeed, you will impress your editor. If you fail, at least you're still likely further ahead and more likely to make the one the publisher set.

4.) Have a group of critique partners and/ or beta readers. I cannot stress enough the importance of beta readers! They want to know what happens next in your story and they will not shut up about it until you provide.

5.) Keep tabs on other author's goals and progress. It was watching other authors declare their goals and  then triumphantly announce when they nailed 'em that motivated me in the first place. "This chick got 2K today?" I'd think. "Damn, I gotta catch up to that...and maybe even beat her!" Friendly competition can be healthy. Also, you all end up rooting for each other so it's all good.

6.) Give housework the finger. Again, observe the picture of my office. This was during a 3 day writing which I nailed 12K. Oftentimes, the story takes priority.

7.) Limit your drinking. No, don't quit drinking (unless it's hurting yourself and others). A lot of writers drink. The reason? Alcohol lowers inhibitions. With lowered inhibitions, I can let loose those poignant emotional scenes...and that's not the booze talking. My beta readers cried, man. They cried. Success!! But don't drink so much the words become blurry or you lose track of your story. Don't drink so much that you're too hung over the next day to write. I've pegged my limit at 4 hard ciders on the weekdays and 6 on the weekends.
8.) Don't be afraid to skip a part or two and jump ahead. Sometimes I just don't have the right word or description to something that leads to the part I know. In those instances I type "so and so does this" or simply, "blah blah blah" and then highlight. You can always go back later and fill those parts in as they come. The important thing is to press on.

9.) Turn off the internet. I've noticed that checking my email, twitter, and facebook can be endlessly addicting...and distracting. And don't get me started on I'm grounded for a week from that site, LOL. So I turn off my internet for an hour, write, turn it back on, check my stuff, post an update, say hi to a few friends, then turn it back off. My productivity has skyrocketed since.

10.) Get a hotel room. I saved up my money and did some careful shopping with Expedia and reserved a room for tomorrow night. I will keep the internet off, have a steady supply of cigarettes, Red Bull, and hard cider. I will have no kids, husband, animals, friends, solicitors, etc. to distract me. My goal is 10K. I will let you know how that goes. 

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