Every writer is probably familiar with that RUSH of creativity you get when first coming up with a new project. That gust of inspiration may carry you through outlining, or even well into the first draft. But then you have probably also discovered that at some point, it fades, and writing gets hard. It just does. So the real battle for writers is how to maintain productivity and focus without that creative rush to buoy you.
How do you maintain writing productivity long term?
I believe the answer is in learning and honing your own creative process and best writing habits. Each writer is unique, and it’s only through practice, experience, and experimentation that we learn the ins-and-outs of our own relationship with The Muse.
The best thing about NaNoWriMo is that it pushes people to try. It gives people a reason to finally begin, and the challenge aspect keeps them accountable and gives them an excuse to make writing a priority for a change. But, if you really want to be able to not just finish one but multiple books, burning the candle at both ends in a fit of creative fervor (and mild insanity) one month out of the year ain’t gonna do it.
Every month should be novel writing month.
Your real #NanoWrimo goal should be to form a writing HABIT that will carry you all through the year. But to establish writing habits that best suit you, you need to figure out what actually works and what doesn’t. That’s why, whether this is your first or fifth attempt at NaNoWrimo, whether you’ve finished before or not, I suggest you take this opportunity to study yourself.
Use this hack to form a dependable writing habit.
Homework time! I want you to keep a Work in Progress tracking journal for at least a week (but the longer the better). Rather than just tracking word count, take this rare opportunity when you’re focused to gather some valuable data that will help you formulate writing habits that really suit you.
Where, how long, and by what method you are writing; what else is going on, and how you are feeling. Write it ALL down. Or use this free printable Work in Progress Tracker sheet I created!
- Are you more productive during certain hours of the day or a certain day of the week?
- Are you more productive in a certain location?
- Do you hit a certain point (either words or time) where you just hit a wall?
- What other factors might contribute to this? Is it life stress? Distractions? Lack of sleep? Dehydration? Hunger?
- If you get stuck, is it because you can’t do words anymore or is it because you haven’t thought through what happens next?
- If you take a break and come back, do the words flow again?
- What activity (or lack thereof) is your most effective reset button?
- How does each stage of the process make you feel? Are you excited, frustrated, nervous, sad?
I hope you can use this information to structure some writing habits in a realistic way that enhances your creativity, writing productivity, and enjoyment of the process. Once you know the tricks that get you in the write zone, you’ll find the words will flow much easier. Creating shouldn’t be a slog or a battle. Writing from a place of calm focus will always yield better results.
In my next post I’ll discuss another writing hack–writing rituals–that will get you in the writing mindset even faster by using a simple psychology trick. Stay tuned! Subscribe to the blog, or follow me on Instagram to never miss an update (probably too many updates, and kitten pictures, but it can’t be helped). If you want to receive more writing insights and news about my upcoming courses directly in your inbox, sign up for my writing newsletter below.