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How to Be a Productive Writer

What are your writing goals – finish the novel, pitch more magazines, contact the best literary agent on Twitter? Knowing how to write productively will help! Here, freelance writer Thursday Bram shares five tips for finding your own system.

How to Be a Productive WriterWriters write differently, and what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. If you’re still struggling to find what works for you, read The Artist’s Way Every Day: A Year of Creative Living by Julia Cameron. She’s the guru of writing more, writing better!

“A word is not the same with one writer as with another,” said Charles Péguy, the French editor, poet and essayist. “One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.”

And, here are Bram’s tips for increasing your writing productivity…

5 Tips for Finding Your Own System

For every writer, the work necessary to get words down on the page is different. The system each of us needs to be a productive writer is very different, from the goals to the day-to-day routines. Some of us are ecstatic to get three hundred words written over the course of a day. Others of us feel like something is wrong if we haven’t lined up three thousand words in the last day. That means that it’s necessary to find what works for each of us.

The question is how to find the systems we need.

1. Track your writing

The more you know about your writing habits, the easier it is to improve upon them. If you can keep track of how many words you write in a day, that’s a start. The more information you gather about your writing habits, the better — do you have an easier time writing first thing in the morning? What about right after you’ve exercised? If you know the conditions you write best under, you can try to create them when you really need to work on your writing.

2. Find your motivation for writing

For some writers, motivation isn’t tough to figure out — it can be the only way you get the bills paid. But money isn’t the only reason many of us write. Maybe your ambition is to get a book in print, or maybe there’s a particular story you need to tell.

If you can incorporate reminders of your reason for writing, it’s often easier to sit down and get to work. That could mean creating a mockup of the book cover (complete with your name on it) for the manuscript you’re working on or getting a picture of the person whose story you’re telling. You may need new reminders for each project you work on.

3. Experiment with your methods

How to Be a Productive Writer

How to Be a Productive Writer

It’s easy to build habits around the way you write, including bad habits. I convinced myself that I worked better without an outline when most of my writing was for clients’ blogs, but when I started using them again for other types of writing projects, I fell back in love with the outline — for me, it’s the easiest way to tackle really long writing projects.

Experimenting with a different approach, like dictating your story or mind mapping an article, can help you find new ways to both improve your writing and the length of time it takes.

4. Push yourself as a writer

The best athletes are the ones who push themselves every day, just a little beyond what they were able to comfortably manage the day before. Good writers can learn from athletes, even if we aren’t always so enthusiastic about getting up out of our chairs. No matter how organized your system is, if it doesn’t make you push yourself, it doesn’t help you to grow as a writer.

5. Don’t get too caught up with systems

Whether you’re trying out another writer’s approach to pounding out a novel or you just want to tweak your system, don’t get too caught up in the system. If you want a way to procrastinate, organization and productivity advice can be the greatest distraction you’ve ever found. There are days when the only option is to sit down and write, especially when deadlines loom.

Do you have a system that keeps you writing productively? Your thoughts and questions are welcome below…

Thursday Bram keeps pushing herself as a writer. Her newest project is a blog dedicated to finding perspective in productivity. You can find Thursday on TwitterBram also contributed to 73 Ways to Fire Up (or Just Fire) the Muse.

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3 thoughts on “How to Be a Productive Writer”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for this guest post, Thursday!

    I think creating a NEED to write is so important. For instance, if I need to pay my bills from my blogging revenue, then I’m more motivated to be productive. But, if I’m writing just because I wanna, then I’m less motivated…….and different writers have different reasons and motivations to write. We just need to find what works for us.
    .-= Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen´s last blog post ..Writing for Online Magazines – How to Find Work on the Web =-.

  2. Great list. Understanding motivation – asking myself *why* I’m doing something – is always a key to making sure I’m going to be disciplined and dedicated enough to see it through.
    .-= K.M. Weiland´s last blog post ..Generality Is the Death of the Novel =-.

  3. Laurie,

    These are like a list of commandments for excellent writing. I would encourage new writers to commit them to memory and I think seasoned writers should take the advice to heart and look closely at their writing methods.

    .-= George Angus´s last blog post ..Vintage: Finding Your Writer’s Voice =-.