Ideas to increase productivity?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Ailith, May 2, 2012.

  1. Ailith

    Ailith Master

    What are some good ways to increase productivity and not get sucked into distractions?

    A friend recently introduced me to this little gem: Write or Die by Dr Wicked | Putting the 'Prod' in Productivity

    It actually is very helpful for me when I need to just get words on a page or get my brain juices flowing. If left to my own devices, I tend to think too far ahead, or over-think the story and then just sit staring at a blank page, so overwhelmed by steps 18 and 57 that I can’t take step 1.

    I’m also trying to be more productive in my writing by cutting out activities that take up a lot of time but aren’t necessarily beneficial for me. I limit my number of TV-watching hours every week, and I quit Facebook altogether. I’ve been Facebook-free for over a year now, and it has been good for me in many ways besides gaining the extra time.

    Any other suggestions?
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis magnanimus Moderator

    Yeah, that Write or Die App is pretty funny.

    The guy who develops Liquid Story Binder has a free program called Momentum Writer. It is basically a text editor with no backspace functionality; no way to go back and edit what you've written. So you've either got to just keep going or else close the program and open the document in another program to edit it.
  3. gavintonks

    gavintonks Scribal Lord

    good habits are the best discipline
  4. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Staff Moderator

    I write every morning because that is when my mind feels more clear and free, also you have to feel good after finishing every chapter: Take your advances as little victories, set a reasonable deadline to finish your novel and practice your discipline to keep writing frequently, avoiding time-consuming distractions like Facebook =)
  5. Ailith

    Ailith Master

    Cool, that sounds like another good way to tame my over-analyzing tendencies :) I'll look it up, thanks.
  6. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    I've heard good things about write or die, but in my opinion, gimmicks only work for so long. Eventually, you ignore them or turn them off. You get brownie points for cutting down on tv and facebook, so just keep that up. When you want to do something you prioritize it ahead of things like TV.

    I heard this interview with Neil Gaiman. He said people constantly tell him they have all these ideas but feel guilty when they can't find the time to write them down. Neil's answer was something like this. Why feel guilty? Who says you have to write them down? There's no idea police that wags a finger at you every time you let an idea fade. There's nothing wrong with not writing.

    When ever I feel the pain of writing, I think of what Gaiman said. If writing is important to me, do it. If not, lets see what's on TV. Neither choice is right or wrong. It's just a choice.

    As for over thinking, just keep in mind what you need to do within that scene and just write. Don't worry about it being good. Just worry about getting the words down. You can always edit and make it good later. The more you do this, the easier it'll get to start and keep going.
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
  7. Benjamin Clayborne

    Benjamin Clayborne Dark Lord

    For me, it's not so much about getting distracted while I'm writing; it's about getting started writing in the first place. Oh, I could just open up LibreOffice, but there's this paperwork here... and oh look, Facebook... oh hey, here's some paperwork I have to file...

    Once I get going, it's no problem. It's getting over that hump that kills me.
  8. Leif GS Notae

    Leif GS Notae Closed Account

    Pomodoro. Hands down, I've used this for every time I needed to get back into the habit.

    Two timers, one set for 25 minutes, the other set for 5. Turn the first timer on and keep writing for 25 minutes. When it chimes, turn it off and start the 5 minute one. Get up and away from your computer, stretch, do something else. When the timer stops, repeat the 25 minute timer again.

    This process allowed me to write 25,000 words in a day without much fatigue (I even took two naps between all that).
    Devora likes this.
  9. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Dark Lord

    It may seem like utter common sense but this method is like pure gold.

    For anyone who says it doesn't work, well, just undertake Rachel's "Time" step. Analyse your writing, find out what isn't working and get rid of it. Okay so maybe you don't need to go all scientific with it like she did, but it's well worth it. I know for example that I'm able to 1000 or so words done with little problem as long as I meet three conditions:

    1) No distractions I can't ignore. I don't know what it is but if I'm alone in my own world I can writer better, faster, harder and smarter. I can however cope with music, television, even one or two people in the same room, just so long as I can effectively block them out. haha.

    2) Enthusiasm for what I'm writing. This is so important! Why bother writing a scene that you're not excited about? So what if its necessary to the plot, cut it, rework it, make it interesting. The words will fly from your fingers if you're actually interested in the scene.

    3) Write in the evening. At a glance this is probably my most productive time, closely tied with When-I-should-be-sleeping time. Especially when the television is all a-swarm with hospital/c&p crime dramas...

    All in all it's a mind set. Maximise your efficiency.

    Even if you're at a time in your life where yourself isn't something you can think about or indulge (eg, early parenthood) I still reckon you could get decent amount of writing done. No one can say they don't have a spare 30 minutes to an hour. What about all that time spent faffing? Speed up getting ready in the morning, and do some writing instead. You'd be surprised how much time you can waste doing nothing much at all. That "nothing much at all" may seem important to your daily routine, but I bet its not. I know I for one could cut out some of this wasted time.

    After all, with 24 hours in the day, how could you possibly use up every second of every hour of them? It's time to get real about things :)

    Say for instance you are a person who finds themselves saying this a lot: "I get home from work at half five or six, have to cook, and after all that there simply isn't enough time for myself". Well, If I'm not much mistaken most meals don't take more than 30 minutes to get ready if you try, allow 15 minutes for eating, that's 6:45. Say you go to bed some where between 11 and 12. That's at least 3 spare hours. Some of that will be filled with looking after people, or doing errands no doubt, but still... there's bound to be an hour in there if you prioritise.
  10. Helen

    Helen Mystagogue


    You focus your energy figuring out what you're going to do.
  11. studentofrhythm

    studentofrhythm Master

    It might work to get yourself a manual typewriter: no delete function there, no distractions other than the carriage return lever and changing the paper (and you could get around that with a Kerouac scroll).

    The problem with this is that you're probably still dependent on the word processor for editing, and that means scanning with OCR, then manual cleanup of the OCR glitches. But if you put out enough volume on the paper, it might be worth it.
  12. Ailith

    Ailith Master

    Thanks for the great suggestions, everyone!

    @Butterfly - great article, that's actually quite helpful. :)
  13. The Dark One

    The Dark One Grandmaster

    Agree with just about everything said so far, but maybe the elephant in the room is: why are you distracted?

    Obviously everyone needs a break, but if you're taking the trouble to start a thread, could that mean you're so distracted that you just can't get going in the first place? The best way to maintain momentum is to have a great idea which inspires other great ideas and scene after scene just write themselves.

    Nothing kills momentum more than having only half an idea. Always review the potential of your work. Is it really worth spending so much time alone for?
  14. Phin Scardaw

    Phin Scardaw Lore Master

    Rum! And lots of it!

    People always talk about substance abuse, but no one ever seems to bring up the topic of substance USE. Now, I'm not saying go out and become an alcoholic, but I find that having a couple drinks gets the creative juices flowing nicely and allows for a strong emotional charge to be transmitted to the writing.

    I live in a bilingual city and while English is my first language, French is the city's official means of communicating. I always find that trying to have a conversation in my second language is a lot easier after a bottle of wine. Some people say that it's just because you lose any inhibitions about making mistakes, but it's far more than that. There's a spirit that enters you which pushes you forward, recklessly sometimes, and allows you to ride a certain current of something that at least feels like moderate divinity at the time.

    The same thing works with writing. You are having a conversation with your muse, and a bit of your favourite poison might be just the trick. It's not something you could really keep up over a long term without ill effects - but I will happily and openly confess that I went on a two-week bender of drunken afternoons in which I drafted what is quite possibly the most solid and amazing piece of writing I have created to date. I don't think I shall repeat that experience because the conditions for such prolific productivity were unique, but it was an experience that changed the way I write forever.

    I'd suggest this method maybe once in a while, or if you feel particularly unmotivated or stuck.
  15. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Dark Lord

    I definitely agree with this one.... a little whiskey for me and my juices are flowing. There was a recent study that whiskey can even help prevent strokes in some people and I take that to heart sometimes. Usually I don't have much time during the week for writing, but there's nothing better than a nightcap and a late night writing session on Saturday or Sunday night.
  16. Ailith

    Ailith Master

    I will admit to using this tactic in moderation :) It helps to put me at ease and shuts down the part of me that nit-picks the small details. I've found a little bit is also good right before a musical performance to get rid of nerves. For that, it has to be a very little though or the music gets a bit... impassioned?
  17. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis magnanimus Moderator

    The Crystal Ship is being filled...
  18. The Dark One

    The Dark One Grandmaster

    Nothing wrong with a sip or a puff of whatever gets your juices flowing, but I recommend that you edit sober to make sure the coherency and structure is strong.

    When you're in an altered state your brain makes connections that seem obvious or even profound, but when you read back over it sober you might be wondering what on earth you were on when you created such gibbering drivel! This happened to me a lot in my 20s - I'd write something during the souped up witching hour which struck me as the deepest insight in the history of literature. Then I'd read it the next morning and just shake my head at the pointless banality I'd scrawled over an envelope reeking of bongwater.

    Most of your readers will be sober, as will any publishers to whom you send it.
    rhd likes this.
  19. ArielFingolfin

    ArielFingolfin Lore Master

    That technique actually works really well for me too. I've never thought of setting timers, but I'll write for a bit, and when I start to feel myself get stuck, I get up, stretch a bit, get some water etc. and regroup after a short 5-10 minute break.

    Also I find activities that I can let my mind wander in. I can type for hours if I have a general direction, but to get that direction I'll go for a walk or a drive or - my favorite story writing activity - clean stalls. Some of my best ideas have occured to me while I've been shoveling horses poop. I find that when I stop stressing and just let my mind play with things I write better.

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