If there’s one essential ingredient for writing, it’s motivation. If you can’t get yourself to the blank page, it doesn’t matter how many beautiful words you have trapped inside you. So if you find your motivation wavering, here are 6 simple ways to keep you productive.
1. Make writing a priority
Your writing has to be a non-negotiable. It’s too easy to say, ‘I don’t have time’ and that’s definitely one of the main reasons people give as a reason to not write or give up when they hit a tough spot. But finding time is making time. Writing has to be a non-negotiable necessity: like staying hydrated and nourished. The only solution here is to be ruthless, and make a commitment to yourself.
2. Make it consistent
You need to make your writing sessions regular, and set in stone. The more consistent you are, the more ‘the muse’ will show up for you. The muse is not an imaginary fairy creature, but a reality. Your subconscious learns to show up at the prescribed time each day, and the more consistent you are, the more ideas will show up for you.
To keep a regular writing appointment, it also helps to have an accountability partner. That sense of commitment and external accountability that comes with enlisting someone to help you stay true to your goals.
3. Choose a writing space
A dedicated writing space is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. Even if you don’t have a room that’s entirely yours, you can set aside a spot for your writing whether it’s a corner of your kitchen or a table at the local library. The act of dedicating a space to your writing works because there’s a sense of ritual involved, it gets you into the rhythm of writing regularly, and it gets you away from the distractions of daily life.
4. Use dead time to ponder
A writer is always writing. Story ideas are everywhere, and although you might not always have a pen and paper, a laptop or even on your phone on you, you can always be thinking about your characters and what they might do next. Driving, preparing dinner, doing the washing up – these are all valuable times to creatively stew.
In doing this, you’ll increase your writing productivity, because you’ll spend more of your writing time getting words down on the page, rather than working out plot problems.
5. Plan each writing session
While you don’t have to plan out every session down to the smallest detail, it’s a good idea to have some kind of plan about what you want to do that day. This will ensure you optimise your writing time for getting words on the page. That said, sometimes a blank page is as good as a plan – it can be an invitation to continue.
Ernest Hemingway advised writers to stop for the day when writing is going well and the writer knows what will happen next. Some writers even advocate stopping in the middle of a paragraph or sentence. That makes it easier to dive in the next day.
6. Set some writing goals
Your writing goal can be as detailed as an Excel spreadsheet to track daily word counts or as general as making notes in a writing journal, but it’s a good plan to set realistic goals that you can reach. Even if that’s just 250 words or one page per day: after a year, you’ll have more than 300 pages.
Also take note of how you work best, and when you get significant writing done. You might write more productively in a noisy or quiet spot, with or without a cup of coffee, or before or just after exercising.
Staying motivated to write every day is tricky, but essential if you want to be a productive writer… And don’t we all? Writing productivity is a combination of making sure you have the time and space to write, setting concrete goals, and being conscious about your methods and how effective they are in bringing your goal closer. Happy writing!
by Bridget McNulty
Bridget is a published author (Strange Nervous Laughter), journalist, and content strategist who loves helping people start – and finish! – their novels. You can find out more on her blog and follow her on Twitter.