Have you ever wondered how some writers manage to crank out thousands of words per day without batting an eyelash?
Stephen King has written at least 89 books and 200 short stories to date, and we’re 99% sure that he’s working on yet another novel as we speak. Barbara Cartland, a romance novelist, has written over 720 novels in her career. She even holds the Guinness World record for most novels written in a year — 23 novels, or roughly two a month.
They make NaNoWriMo participants seem, well, lazy. Which leads us to the million-dollar question: how does one become a prolific writer?
We wish the answer were so simple. But if it were easy, there wouldn’t be millions of people each year battling with writer’s block and searching on Google, “how to finish my book without wanting to kill myself.” Luckily, we have the info you need to unleash the brilliant writer inside of you. Here are four fail-safe ways to write more consistently in 2019.
So, let’s get started!
1. Write distraction-free
Writers today face several challenges: the temptation of social media, the siren song of your most comfortable couch (often just several feet away), and the pull of other nearby distractions — whether it’s a great book, a talkative friend, or even laundry that needs doing, because anything’s better than writing sometimes.
If you really want to get some writing done, it’s crucial that you do it without distractions. And here’s why: good writing requires focus.
It’s so easy to just tell ourselves, “Oh, I can just go on Instagram or Snapchat for a couple of minutes. It’s not a big deal.”
But it is a big deal. Those “couple of minutes” will turn into an hour, then two hours. Before you know it, half your day will have gone — and zero percent of it will have been spent on writing, or even proofreading.
So, how do you build up the focus needed to get that story or novel finished? Here are two of our favorite ways:
- The Pomodoro Technique: This popular method was invented by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, so you know it must be good if it’s had this much staying power. To practice it, choose a specific task and focus on it for a certain time period (usually 25 minutes).
When your timer goes off, take a break for, let’s say, 5 minutes. Then go back to working on it for another 25 minutes. Rinse and repeat.
- Timeboxing: This time management approach is fairly straightforward. Just choose a general task (i.e. “write 3,000 words”) and then set a block of time to complete it — for instance, 7:00 AM to 11:00 AM.
Try these two time-management hacks with all your priority tasks, not just writing! You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done.
2. Think “don’t,” not “can’t”
Your internal language has more power than you think.
If you find yourself lacking the motivation to get writing, try paying attention to your inner chatter. Maybe you’re just not framing certain thoughts in your head in a writing-conducive manner.
Here’s one trick that reveals the impact that self-talk can have on your life:
Instead of saying, “I can’t go to bed without finishing this chapter,” tell yourself, “I DON’T go to bed without finishing a chapter a day because that’s not the kind of writer I am.” The transformation that can result from this small tweak is amazing. By creating a better, more motivational image of yourself in your head, you become the writer you’ve always wanted to be.
3. Mind-map like a pro
If you haven’t tried mind-mapping yet, then you’re missing out.
In a nutshell, mind-mapping is a way to visually organize ideas. Often seen as a sort of spider diagram, mind maps are incredibly useful for outlining and organizing, both important and mundane.
We leave it to you if you’d like to create your own mind map by hand, or using a device. The benefit of hand-drawn mind maps is that you have complete creative freedom to design or structure it as you please. It doesn’t even matter if it looks nothing like a map in the end, so long as it helps you think through your concepts.
Then you have the digital mind map (below is an example of one). Their biggest advantage is that you can edit information as necessary. A mind-mapping software program will also make sure that you’re not constrained by physical space, as you’re able to make it as elaborate as you want.
Our favorite part about digital mind maps is the option of carrying them everywhere you go, especially if created using popular tools like Smart Draw.
In case you’re not sold yet, here are some more benefits of mind-mapping to consider. Mind maps can:
- Help you see the bigger picture at a glance;
- Enable easier recall;
- Simplify complex relationships between stories or characters; and
- Help you collaborate with other people (if you want).
Most of all, mind maps are fun and we can guarantee they’ll get the creative gears in your brain cranking.
4. Embrace your imperfections
Whenever you’re plagued with self-doubt, you can remember this quote from the artist, Vincent Van Gogh:
“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’
then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
There’s no reason why you can’t apply his strategy to writing.
Fear of rejection keeps so many writers from writing consistently, or even from writing at all. So the solution is simply to look for creative ways to start writing on the spot (using creative writing prompts or a character name generator is fantastic for this).
If you see a few flaws here and there. don’t let it get to you. Instead, keep a notebook and jot down anything that you think can help you improve your writing, whether it’s a weakness that you notice yourself or criticism offered by other people. This way, you’ll become more grounded and can look at your work more objectively.
Be confident and just write!
You’ll always have excuses that might seem valid to you when you try to drag yourself to your writing desk to write more consistently this year. But you’ve got to ask yourself what writing means to you. Next, think about what you’re willing to sacrifice to meet your goals.
It can be hard to turn off the TV when your favorite show is on or put all your thoughts and ideas on paper when you’re just not in the mood. It’s the perpetual dilemma of a writer.
We don’t doubt you have it in you to make the changes necessary, however. Because you’ve already taken the first and most important step — wanting to improve!