If you’re an aspiring writer, you’ll know that writing can simultaneously be the most exciting but exasperating thing in your life.
Writing a novel can be particularly hard; it feels like a constant battle trying to get the swirling creativity in your brain into cohesive sentences on a page. But the tantalizing reward is there waiting if you can achieve it: getting your book published and displayed on a bookshelf. It’s just that getting there can be difficult, especially if you’re struggling with productivity.
In this article, we’ve covered five top tips and tricks to help you become a more productive and successful writer. Read on for inspiration — and a bit of guidance.
Recommended reading: Why Write A Diary?
Get rid of distractions
This one should probably go without saying, but we’re going to say it anyway: get rid of any distractions that are getting in the way of your writing.
Normally, this comes in the form of social media. The endless scroll is a nightmare when you’re stuck in a creative rut and staring at a blank page — it’s all too tempting to head over to Twitter or Facebook and scroll away until you can’t feel your fingers anymore.
Needless to say, this is not a healthy way to break up a day of writing — or any type of day at all. Social media is a black hole and the true enemy of productivity. Want to be productive? Temporarily block these pages or log out to give yourself an immediate barrier (there are even specially designed apps, like Freedom, to help with this if you really need it).
The same goes for your email inbox, the TV, computer games, and Wikipedia. We’ve all fallen down the rabbit hole when it comes to Wikipedia.
Find your routine — and make sure you add breaks
On the other hand, we don’t expect you to be able to sit down for eight hours straight and steadily bash out 3000 words of your next novel. Some people can work like this, and that’s amazing for them, but most of us work in an oscillating pattern of peaks and troughs. Inspiration can strike in sharp bursts, and then we need regular breaks to chop up the day and regroup our brain cells.
Everyone is different, so find your own creative rhythm and routine. There will be times when your energy and enthusiasm for writing reaches its zenith — make the most of these times, whenever they may be. And don’t worry about being labeled as a ‘night owl’ or ‘early bird’ — just write when it suits you.
Don’t forget to break up your days of writing with frequent breaks. Stop writing, stop staring at your screen; move around, go for a walk outside in the fresh air, make a cup of tea. Your brain needs to have regular breaks to work as best as it can. If you struggle with time management, try using apps like Pomodoro Keeper. Fully customizable, you can this tech to break your writing day into 25-minute chunks separated by five-minute breaks.
Make a plan (but don’t be scared to deviate)
One of the best — and easiest — ways become a more productive and successful writer is to make a plan.
This means mapping out your novel (such as the plot) and setting yourself daily tasks and goals to make sure that you achieve what you want to.
Each time you sit down and write, take a moment to review the work you did in your last session and think about what you’d like to achieve by the end of a new one. This could be as big or small as you want it to be — 2000 words, completing your next chapter, or finally pinning down the description of that tricky side character.
Setting goals will help you to become more productive. Not only are you essentially writing a to-do list for your novel, which will help it get written quicker, but you are also giving yourself a sense of accomplishment — a positive feeling that will help you write more effectively.
Don’t be scared if things change, however. Sometimes, inspiration will strike and your plot or concept could get turned on its head completely. Don’t shy away from this — embrace it, and keep writing! (But also make a back-up of your previous draft just in case).
Take a creative writing course
One surefire way to become a more successful writer is to sign up to a creative writing course.
This is a great way to get some extra help with your writing from other people who have already achieved success with theirs. Your own knowledge of writing can only get you so far sometimes, and there’s no shame in reaching out for help from experts like Jericho Writers.
Creative writing courses can help you with anything from planning your plot, giving editorial feedback and even publishing your novel. Online courses are a great way to set goals, foster a creative mindset, and conquer writer’s block. Some courses also provide a mentor to help you get your book written and published.
Get inspired: read other people’s work
You don’t stop reading just because you’ve started writing — that’s obviously not how it works. A lot of the most successful writers in the world are avid readers who are constantly waxing lyrical about the latest incredible author they’re reading.
Reading other people’s work will spark your imagination, increase your vocabulary, and make you think.
You can also borrow from writers you admire. Of course, we don’t mean plagiarise their work (this is definitely not okay). Instead, think about the features of their writing that you admire. Do they write character descriptions so clear that you can see the protagonist in front of you? Do they keep you hooked during tense crime novel? Electrified and nearly too scared to turn the page when you’re reading a thriller?
Try to emulate some of the aspects in your own writing. Sometimes it’s good — especially when faced with writer’s block — to get out of your own skin and into someone else’s.
Follow these five tips and tricks, and you will soon become a more productive and successful writer.
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