The question I ask myself all the time, “Okay great, I have a project. Now, how do I stay productive and keep this project going on reasonable timeline?” I think everyone asks themselves this at some point. Here are a few ways I have come up with to stay productive on your writing project:
Keep a To-Do List
I work really well off of lists. Of course, that’s not the case for everyone, but either way, having a visual representation of what all you need to do is a great motivator. I find that often times, looking at a big picture, I get overwhelmed and less likely to do anything. The project becomes too daunting for me to even tackle. Having a list to break everything up into bite-sized pieces will setting your brain, help you prioritize, and get you back on the path to completing your project.
Break up a Large Work into Scenes
When I started pursuing publication seriously in 2012, I came upon a community on Twitter who kept each other going by tweeting things like, “Just finish that one scene,” and “I just finished a new scene today.” This was one of the first times I had ever heard that word used in that context. Ever since then, though, that is how I tackle every large-scale writing project.
Rather than trying to finish a chapter, which could be pages and pages, I try to think of everything I write in terms of scenes. This event I am writing right now is its own scene. That event may only be a couple paragraphs, which is much more digestible to the mind. Once you complete that scene, the next scene also doesn’t seem like that much, so you keep yourself going. Eventually, you will complete a chapter just by writing in scenes. It’s amazing what changing your language can do to your productivity.
Work on Smaller Pieces
Now, you may ask, “how will working on smaller projects help me stay productive with my larger writing project?” That’s a valid question. The reason I make this suggestion is because I have frequently run into burnout with my larger projects. I get to a point where I don’t even want to look at the draft anymore, and back in the day when this would occur, I would end up watching YouTube videos all day, rather than doing anything even remotely productive.
So, rather than hit that burnout point and resolve to doing nothing of productivity, let’s just move that energy to something equally as productive. Work on a short story, write some poetry, come up with new novel ideas, or work on your blog. All of these things are productive and will help you on your way to becoming a published author. You know what looks good when you start querying agents and publishers? Publication credits. Work on some smaller pieces, shop those around, have a productive burnout session, then get back to the main project.
Again, “how is reading going to help me complete my large project?” I find that a lot of writers are unable to write because they have lost that “creative spark.” One of the best ways, I think, of getting that spark back is to read. What is the reason you started writing? The main reason is probably because you thought it was fun and because you had a story you felt really needed to be told, but the big reason is probably because you read a book that inspired you. So, go read. It’ll get those wheels turning, you’ll brush up on your grammar rules, maybe pick up a few new words, and learn some new writing styles. Then, you can get to writing on your novel again.
Learn New Writing Strategies
There are so many blog posts, articles, books that suggest all kinds of strategy. I have gone over multiple strategies in my own blog post here. There are a ton out there to try, and if you like to outline like I do, nothing will keep you more productive than learning and trying new outlines. Who knows? Perhaps you don’t think you are a writer that outlines, when it reality you just haven’t found the right strategy for you.
Ultimately, nothing is more productive for a writer than writing. I hope these tips will help you get back to writing. Let’s write and get published.
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