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My top 3 productivity tips for writers

My motivational poster

Are you feeling unproductive? Page count crawling, not sprinting? I’ve got some great tips to get you writing again and pushing that productivity score through the roof.

Ever since I took part in my MA and started this blog I’ve met a lot of writers of all different types. But most of them still complain about never getting enough done. Usually on Facebook (which is a problem in itself).

I thought I’d help some of you poor souls out. Hit me up in the comments below if you tried any of these, or if you have any more you think people should try.

Motivational posters can help your productivity

I don’t mean ‘hang in there kitty’ it any of that crap. You can spend thousands of your local currency on these things, and although they might make you smile for 5 minutes, I will tell now – they get old and sarcastic pretty quickly. After a while you’ll find yourself starting at the poster, willing kitty to let go, just to hear him splat.

The best thing to do? Make your own. I did this last year, and placed it directly above my writing desk (in the room where I get changed before heading to work in the morning).

Simple, but effective. Run because it keeps me healthy. Write because it keeps me happy. Talk (to my wife) because it keeps me sane. I deliberately kept it short and sharp so I could read it quickly whenever I’m in the room.

Try it. Pick 3 words. If you had 3 words, what would you use?

Productivity is impacted by your digital surroundings

Facebook groups are great for finding and sharing opportunities. I’m a member of the Bang2write, Listeners of the Dead Robots Society, and Colchester Write Night

And that’s it. I could join dozens of these groups to make sure I saw all the latest competitions and places to send my work. But I don’t. Because I know that all my time would then be spent staring at the screen, getting my head turned by this competition and that competition. I’d never get anything done!

I’m sure you’ve done it as well. You’re happily with away with a script or play or novel, when you check Facebook (if we’re talking about productivity then you should just turn it off, but that’s not always feasible) and see a new crime short story opportunity. Or a short film competition. Then your brain goes ‘remember that idea you had last spring? That’d be perfect…’

Then off you go and half hour later you’ve lost half an hour of writing time.

Choose the groups that are best for you, and stay with them. I may miss a competition or two. But be honest with yourself, if the competition wasn’t a perfect fit for what you were writing anyway, then it will just be a waste of time checking it out.

Of course, reading an excellent blog about writing every now and then is a great way of ensuring you’re in the right digital space.

Your next project is not your current project

I’m awful at this. I’m constantly looking for the next big idea that I can use to write the next great, world-beating story. These ideas can pop up anywhere, when you’re sleeping, when you’re on the toilet, when you’re in McDonald’s (some of the more brazen of you might manage all three conditions at once).

It’s important to recognise these new ideas for what they are – new ideas. Of course they seem interesting, they’re new. But after 3 hours of scribbling notes the excitement will wear off, and you’ll be left with a half thought out idea and an empty feeling because you’ve got nothing productive done.

But I’ve written about this before – you need to do one thing at a time.

To combat this, carry a notebook. If you don’t have a notebook, download something to your phone. When the lightbulb hits, recognise it for what it is and get it down quickly, then ignore it.

Magic! You don’t need to write out three hours of plans, and you won’t forget the world-beating idea. When you’re waiting for a new idea to hit you, have a look through the notes and you’ll find some gold, I’m sure of it.

Well folks, thanks for reading. What do you think of my top tips? Do you do anything similar? Let me know in the comments.