Writing into the Dream – a six-week experiment in becoming a more productive writer
Do you want to write more? If you’re like me, you struggle to find time – and momentum – for your writing. Whenever I get together with writer friends and colleagues, almost the first thing I hear is, “I’d like to get more time for my writing.”
It’s hard! We all hear those stories about Famous Writers (e.g., Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Emily Dickinson) who wrote at certain times of the day for a certain period of time. Yet it doesn’t seem quite that easy when we try it ourselves.
Or, we read those how-to books that tell you an easy formula for getting more writing done. Write for two hours a day. Write first thing in the morning. Write late at night. Sit in your chair staring at the screen/paper until you have 1,000 words written. Turn off the internet. Set a timer. Write in a coffee shop. Write in your home office. Write by hand. Write on your computer with the screen turned off, so you won’t edit. Use Scrivener. Use __(fill in the blank)__ writing tool. All those pieces of advice seem to make sense, but they contradict each other!
Somehow those Famous Writers seemed to do it. AND they have all that lovely Literature and Published Books to show for it. What is the secret?
Now that I’ve had a chance to learn to be in the moment from my earlier 6-week experiment, I’ve been thinking of tackling a new challenge. And the first thing that came to mind was my writing.
What can I do to create more time for writing in my life?
More importantly, how can I be a more productive writer in the time that I have?
If you’re like me, you, too, may yearn to be a more productive writer. Let’s do this together.
Being a more productive writer – to me – means not only producing more pages, but also bringing to life projects that make my writing sing. I don’t want to write dull stuff. I want to create writing that is inventive, that is creative, and and that is exciting. I want my writing to inspire me to write even more. And perhaps – to inspire my audience, too!
An Open Invitation
Are you already as productive a writer as you’d like to be? If so, great!
If you’d like to build more momentum in your writing – and become a more productive writer – I’d like to invite you to join me in my next experiment. I’m calling it #productivewriter.
As with my #beingthemoment experiment in mindfulness, I will publish a new blog post on Sunday evenings. I’ll include an update from the previous week, along with a new strategy for the next week on being a more productive writer.
I would love to hear from other writers. If you have tried a particular strategy, did it work for you? How did you adapt a strategy to make it more meaningful in your writing? What suggestions or recommendations do you have for other writers? I hope we can learn to be more productive writers – together.
Productive Writer Strategy No. 1: Write Every Day
Almost every writer has heard this by now. You should write every day. (And, for extra credit, write at the same time every day!)
Okay, now: raise your hand if you manage to write every single, solitary day. Yes, Monday through Friday, AND Saturday and Sunday as well. Ah. I thought so – probably not.
(If you ALREADY write every day, congratulations! You can skip this lesson now and go out to play!)
How many of us plan to write every day, and then . . . there’s the urgent email that needs answering, the kids to get to school, the quick errand to the hardware store or the grocery store or the pharmacy. OR we work all day, 9-5 or longer. And when we get home dinner needs to be made, there are household tasks to be done (kids’ homework, walking the dog, etc.). Perhaps we fall into bed after dinner, too tired to be … creative.
Get up early to write before work? We’re already going to the gym three days a week, or perhaps our commute to work takes as much an hour or longer, so … no time before the day starts. Not unless we plan to skip our much-needed sleep time, or time with our loved ones, and even at that we’re probably only getting 5-6 hours of sleep a night, if we’re among the average human beings on the planet.
Nevertheless, according to The Productive Writer newsletter (Cornell Graduate School):
This one tip will work for EVERYONE:
Write every day. Write something. Every day.
This is hard, right?
But notice: you don’t have to write something BRILLIANT every day. You just have to write SOMETHING.
Three options to consider:
- “Commit to writing at least 90 minutes every day.” – This is only for those of us who have time set aside to write as our job, or as our vocation. (If you work full-time during the week, maybe consider one of the other two options.) Write for ninety minutes? Just think: after you finish your ninety minutes of writing, you’ll have the rest of the day open for anything you want to do!
- “Write every day for two weeks.” – It’s just two weeks. Fourteen days. You can do almost anything for two weeks, right? If you do this, you will be surprised by how much you FEEL like a productive writer. AND, you will have formed a habit of writing if you do it for two weeks.
- “No matter how busy or how tired or sick you are, write for 15 minutes.” Just think: you don’t have to write The Greatest Novel Ever. Write a Haiku or two. Jot down a list of brainstormed ideas for your next story. Pick three words at random and start a story using those three words. Any of these will count!
Note: this information was from The Productive Writer newsletter (from Cornell University Graduate School); to subscribe, click here.
LET’S TRY THIS for just one week. Every day in the coming week, try to at least write once. We’ll meet back here next Sunday night and compare notes. Sound good? All right!
If desired, you can join in, by either adding a reply-comment to my blog post, or by writing your own post about the project. If you decide to blog about this project, please include the following pingback, and that will give me a chance to read your work as well!
Whether or not you are able to join me, I wish you the gift of finding your own voice, and of enjoying your own creative expression.
Looking forward to hearing from you!