Our productivity depends on factors such as fatigue, the day of the week, mood, family, weather and a thousand more reasons why not to write on a particular day.
However, a writer should work out a mechanism that will enable her to always be motivated to work, disregarding the obstacles. So, what should this mechanism include? Most of the sources I’ve found consider daily habits and morning rituals as two key components of notable writers’ efficiency and success.
Sticking to my daily habits certainly helps me to boost my own writing productivity. I remember that challenging time when I used only my desire to write something special without any plans or schedules. In those days, I could work late nights and early mornings for four days in a row. I used my breaks from writing to learn how to promote my articles.
One Friday morning, however, I woke up and couldn’t write even a paragraph. I faced the most common ‘productivity illness’: writer’s block. It was like the results of a cocktail of exhaustion and frustration. Surviving weekends with nothing coming to mind, I began digging for some ideas of how to overcome this condition.
Among the suggestions I found were amusing approaches of famous writers, such as Dan Brown, who hangs upside down, or Victor Hugo, who wrote without clothes. Yet what really helped me regain motivation were these five daily habits, which I adjusted to my everyday schedule.
1. Make a goal to write 1000-2000 words a day
Stephen King starts working at 8:00 am and finishes his 2000 words at about 1:30 pm. The author learned how not to make exceptions or excuses in achieving this goal. His working desk, papers, and seat are always in the right position so that changes don’t bother or distract him. I thought that if it works for Stephen King then it might help me, too.
Thus, I also made a writing goal to write 1000 words a day. Focusing on my work without breaks was rather difficult, but I soon got used to it. Now, I feel how this daily habit influences my productivity and ability to keep enough juice for the next day.
2. Begin writing your morning pages
I found this to be a helpful habit in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. A well-known scriptwriter advises to set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than usual and find a room where nobody bothers you. Then, you must write exactly three pages without rereading or proofreading them. If you regard this habit as a necessary morning exercise to switch on your mind, you will get used to it more easily.
At first, I wrote anything that came to mind, complaining about my morning headache and my upstairs neighbors. Later I started writing some lyrical paragraphs and even verse. I guess this habit helped me not only to increase my productivity but also to gain enough confidence in myself.
3. Warm up your muscles to tune your body and mind
In his interview with The Paris Review, Haruki Murakami mentions that he runs 10 km or swims 1.5 km giving enough time for training. Why do most writers think that working out helps their productivity?
Scientists from the University of Georgia proved that chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, released in the brain during physical training increase energy flow and make us happier. All these factors influence our mood and productivity levels. Therefore, exercising tunes both the body and brain. Haruki Murakami has another secret of productivity. He mesmerizes himself through a repetitive character of habits, which helps him “to reach a deeper state of mind.”
4. Use tools to form organizational habits
The most requested science writer, Tim Ferris, uses different tools to stay productive while writing a book. He counts on Scrivener and Evernote for researching and actual writing. RescueTime helps Ferris to control spent time on certain websites or applications. Nowadays, authors face many distractions, such as social networks, engaging apps and numerous emails. These tools help them keep focused and motivated. With their help, new writers can identify what acquired habits are effective and result-oriented.
Writers choose their own tools to stay productive. Many fiction and nonfiction writers fancy using Writer’s Block Buster to organize all the characters and information, while research writers use Colwiz to create citations and bibliographies and StudentShare to compare samples. Poets often prefer RhymeZone to find synonyms and rhymes and ReverseDictionary to remember a lost word.
5. Find the best conditions to work
Pulitzer Prize winner Maya Angelou successfully separated her work from her family by renting a flat where nothing could distract her from writing. I suppose a certain environment is also an essential productivity factor. For Angelou, it helped to concentrate and work without breaks for 7 hours in a row.
However, writers demonstrate contradicting habits regarding their working conditions. Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little author E. B. White wrote his masterpieces in a noisy living room that was “a core of everything.” Your work environment can become your best writing habit increasing your productivity. For me, I have learned to write on the train or in the park. I think it is also a habit not to count on your perfect place for writing. E. B. White supports me this: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.”
Famous writers never reveal all the tricks on how to stay productive for a long time. However, now you know five daily habits that can increase your productivity: a writing goal, morning pages, working out, tools for organizational habits, work conditions. You can either apply all of them to your daily routine or keep on developing your own unique habits. I believe true writers do not use universal formulas to stay productive. They are constantly evolving and their habits are not exceptions.
Do you have any habits that help you to be productive in your writing? We’d love to hear what helps you!