How to Boost Your Creativity and Productivity: Tips for Writers

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All writers want to be better, but for some reason, they have a reputation for avoiding writing. It might sound weird, but we’ve all seen the “You should be writing” memes, right? Those were undoubtedly created by a writer who was avoiding writing. We’ve all been there. It’s easy to fall into internet rabbit holes and procrastinate even when we’re really excited about what we’re working on. Writing is hard and requires discipline, consistency, and practice to get better at it. 

Why do writers procrastinate so much? Well, it’s generally because writing a novel is an intimidating exercise. It’s a lot of work to get 80,000+ words onto your word processor—and the right 80,000+ words at that! It’s easy to get stuck with a bad case of writer’s block or grapple with crippling self-doubt when things aren’t going smoothly. Your motivation wanes, and those mindless internet videos beckon ever so irresistibly. Still, it doesn’t have to be like that.

If you would like expert feedback and notes on your writing, head over to our services for authors and find the right one for you. If you’re struggling to put words on the page, here are our tips for boosting your creativity and productivity. 

Use time blocks to write every day

The memes are right: You should be writing. However, that doesn’t mean you should be writing 24/7—it means scheduling time blocks to sit and write, even if it’s just 20 minutes a day. Setting time aside for writing will help you get into a routine so that even when your muse isn’t with you, your brain will know it’s time to work, making it easier to write even when you’d rather be learning how to make bacon-flavored ice cream. Building daily habits is one of the best ways to make sure things you don’t feel like doing get done.

Adopting the right mindset can make a huge difference in successfully pulling off a habit of daily writing. Don’t rely on motivation—that’s fickle, fleeting, sporadic, and unpredictable. Rely on discipline, which is steady, firm, unwavering, and reliable. Write even when you don’t feel like it. You may even find that you get into the groove after working on your story a little despite being completely unmotivated at first.

The Pomodoro technique, which promotes working in shorter blocks of time and taking regular breaks, is a proven strategy for writers; the time constraints add enough pressure to keep them focused, while the breaks offer much-needed opportunities to stretch, drink water, and get their eyes off the screen. Plus, taking breaks and switching your focus to another task can help you work out those pesky issues in your story that are driving you to procrastinate. 

The key to the Pomodoro technique is staying true to the timer, meaning that you actually have to stop writing when the time’s up (but you can finish the current sentence, that’s fine). Then, take a real break, not a pretend one where you sit and think hard about your story. Do something you genuinely want to do, and then return to your manuscript with a fresh mind.

Write with purpose 

When you’ve sat down to work on your manuscript, when the cursor is blinking and your timer is counting down, it’s important to have a purpose in mind. The first way to keep your focus is by having an outline ready. Outlines, whether loose or detailed, are a true and tested means of improving productivity as they offer a roadmap of where the story is going, taking the guesswork out of your writing sessions. The apparent restrictions of an outline prevent you from wandering too far from the premise while still providing the freedom to explore the story and change the path you take to reach your main plot points, which can also boost creativity. 

Outlines are also useful because they provide a basic template for the story, reducing the risk of major plot revisions down the road. You can eliminate any plot holes or discrepancies when you think through your outline, which saves you the time, effort, and pain of having to delete or completely overhaul a scene you spent ages on but just doesn’t work in the story. If you run into a roadblock like that, your motivation is bound to plummet quickly.

Use a notebook 

You know those sudden ideas that you’re sure you’ll remember but inevitably forget five minutes later? That’s why you should always have a notebook at hand. Sure, you can use a note app or even record a voice note, but no matter how advanced technology becomes, there’s nothing quite like writing notes by hand when inspiration hits, especially since it usually seems to hit when we’re not sitting down to write. 

There are certain places and times of day when we’re more creative, when our ideas flow better, and when the writing magic truly happens, so it’s important to be ready to write at such moments, whether you’re on a train or in a park or jumping out of the shower with shampoo in your eyes because you’ve just had a brilliant idea. Adding a time stamp to your entries can also help you determine when those highly productive and creative times or moments usually occur so you can plan your writing schedule around them.

There are also merits to handwriting parts of your story in a notebook. The exercise of writing by hand also promotes creativity as we tend to have a better connection with our words when we put pen to paper. The slower rate at which we write longhand versus the speed of typing also gives our brains more time to consider where the story is going without the pressure of the immediacy that technology creates. Plus, writing in a notebook lets you get off the internet and away from your screen and go pretty much anywhere, meaning you can change your environment to something more stimulating than your desk. Escaping from the alluring draw of the internet will also be a huge boon to your concentration. Just be sure to transfer your handwritten prose later to the more permanent home of your word processor.

A final point in favor of notebooks is that they’re more organized than the crumpled Post-Its and coffee-stained napkins that live at the bottom of many writers’ work bags. Notebooks are perfect for jotting down not only random thoughts and observations but also concrete ideas about our WIPs, whether it’s a line of dialogue, character development, or ways of fixing a plot hole.

All that said, one of the best pieces of advice we can offer is to write freely—don’t put too much pressure on yourself, especially when you’re writing your first draft, because overthinking is the surest way to kill inspiration and creativity. Like the trusty adage says, you can edit a bad draft but not a blank page. So, focus on plotting your story and finishing your first draft, and then start thinking about editing. 

If you’re ready for a professional editor to look over your manuscript, check out our big-picture editing service to receive suggestions and notes on fixing plot, character development, and structural issues. 

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