5 Little Ways to Write Productively


Most of us writers have full-time jobs, friends and family who enjoy our company and therefore occasionally want to spend time with us. Duties to fulfill, annoying little everyday shit that needs taking care of that gets in the way of writing.

Which is why for once I will try writing a blog post with tips in it. You know, one of those with things you do to help you write and advise others to try something similar.  I’ve never felt qualified to give anyone specific advise before – at least not in that most powerful form of all; lists.

But I have been productive as hell lately and proud of it. I have finally, after what feels like years of searching, found a week-by-week writing system that works for me. So based on that, I thought I’d tell you five simple ways to manage your writing during the week. You’ve heard most of these before, but you know what? They are freaking worth repeating.

  1. Daily Word Count Goals

Some people work well measuring their writing goals in pages, or chapters, or time spent writing. I have tried all of these and while they are effective for a short period of time, eventually it stops working. The only times I have experienced regular, substantial and efficient progress has been during NaNoWriMo, when I had to write a certain amount of words per day to reach the monthly target.

It felt like a special accomplishment because I had never been able to consistently do something like that before. But guess what? I won my first NaNoWriMo. And my first Camp. And yes, some days it was like climbing up a cliff with no rope and one hand tied behind your back, but it was always an adrenaline rush and fun and exciting and I did it!

So when July was over and Camp was done, I thought, why am I not doing this every day? What’s to say I can only accomplish this when there are a whole bunch of people doing it alongside me? I might as well give it a try. So I tried to write 1000 words every day. Sometimes I made it, sometimes I failed. Actually, I mostly failed. But you know how they say repeat something enough and it becomes habit?

Now, writing a minimum of 1000 words is habit. I don’t think I could go to sleep at night if there were words missing from my daily goal. It doesn’t have to be a 1000 words for you, but we all know that writers write every day. With a specific number in mind you have a finish-line on days when writing is hard, and you feel fucking fantastic on good days you go way above your goal. That’s worth a shot, right?


  1. Work Without Typing

When you have a job, maybe a family, other obligations, it is physically impossible to spend as much time writing as you want. The great thing is that for writers, thinking can also be working. We have a lot of shit that needs to get done outside of putting actual words on the page. Fixing plot-holes, character development, trying to figure out exactly how to make that awesome scene in your head fit into your story.

If you can focus your thoughts exclusively on your writing, even if it’s just for five minutes, you can get a lot done. Always keep a notebook (or your phone) ready for whatever random ideas that pop into your head. Some of the most important work I do every day is on the metro to and from work. I listen to my “Writing Epic” playlist and think, staying focused on my WIP or the novel I’m outlining for this year’s NaNoWriMo.  I make damn sure my thoughts don’t stray into things like what to buy for dinner or worrying about an unpaid bill.

As long as I stay focused, I will get at least one brilliant idea or solve one impossible problem. I’m not saying this happens every day, but honestly? It happens more often than not. If there is a time you can set aside during your day to think only of your writing, then do it. You can get a lot of shit done with the right amount of focus.

  1. Be Kind to Future You


When you’re sitting down to write, some scenes flow more easily than others. Sure, all scenes are necessary to your story and you want them all to exist, but certain days some scenes just stir your passion. You know you can’t do them justice right this second because you’re not in the right head space.

This is when it’s tempting to say “I’ll write it later” and move on to the next scene that you are super excited to work on. My advise is DON’T. I used to do this a lot, and then I would be re-writing and stumble across something like [INSERT CONVERSATION HERE]. Then I would my past self to go fuck herself.

Your future self has their own problems and challenges. Why not make their life easier and give them something to work with? Instead of skipping that scene, follow the first draft principle. Write something that sucks. A stinking pile of shit that vaguely resembles what you want the scene to turn into, and mark it so you know this pile needs fixing. Just get out a hideous skeleton of what you want.

Give your future self something to work with. Anything. They will happily fix it and make it readable, but they will be so pissed if they have to write an entire scene from scratch when they are supposed to be re-writing or editing. 

  1. Accountability

You have heard this one before. It’s all well and good to tell yourself this week will be different and you will get everything done. But humans are fantastic at making excuses for ourselves, and we’re also great at getting distracted and sidetracked. When we do, it is hard to push yourself back on track.

You know who’s good at pushing people back on track? Other people. Think about it. You probably have a much easier time reminding your loved ones about the thing they are supposed to be doing than you are at doing that for yourself. I think we love telling other people to work hard. So tell other people what you want to do, and what you actually end up doing!

Your friends will cheer for you if you reach your goal. You will cringe at telling them you fell short but they will still be supporting and tell you that you can do it tomorrow – which will make you want to do it tomorrow. I tweet out how many words I wrote every day. Even if nobody cares but me, I still love sharing it. It’s my way of being publicly accountable to myself and everyone else. This works for me.

Don’t want to go telling the whole world how you did today? Make a deal with your favorite person and tell them how you did every day. They probably like you; they won’t mind.

  1. Give Yourself a Break

    girl playing organ

I write minimum 1000 words every day. I also take a lot of notes, outline and do a whole bunch of other little writing-related things. I work hard on my writing. Which is why I don’t feel guilty of taking a day off.

On Sundays, I don’t write 1000 words. I don’t write any words.. I might outline or some of those other side-line things, but I don’t produce new words. Sunday is my creative intake day. I give my brain a chance to slow down and recharge for all the writing I’ll do the next week.

Being a writer is hard. If you’re serious about wanting to get your book out there, it requires so much effort and sacrifice and work. You essentially have two full-time jobs, except they don’t pay you for this one. But here is something I want you to remember, and it is important, so repeat after me:

Taking a break does not mean you are failing.

Maybe you’re not the kind of person who needs a break for one whole day per week, but I know that’s right for me. My brain is a fragile mess that is never too far away from falling into a pit of darkness, so I acknowledge my limitations and adjust accordingly.  know I can write every week-day, and easily every Saturday. But there will always be Sundays where I can’t do anything except lie in bed and watch something, or read, or go for a walk or anything that is relaxing and inspires me.

So instead of feeling guilty for the Sundays I can’t make myself write, I decided to make myself not write every Sunday. This has been a benefit to my writing process.

Working hard is important, but so is protecting your own sanity (and let’s be honest – as writers, sanity is hard to come by). Be kind to yourself. Don’t punish yourself for needing time to shut down and take a breath.


So that’s that. My first list of tips, or advise, or whatever the hell it is I just put into list-form. It was fun to write, though. Now excuse me while I go hide in a dark corner because I am very nervous about putting this out into the world!

Happy productivity to one and all. You can do it.

Rain S.

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