This post is the fourth in a series on writing and publishing rapidly. The previous posts in the series are The Benefits of Writing Quickly, How to Write a (Good!) Book in a Month, and Why Other Writers Don’t Want You to Write Quickly.
Over the last month, I’ve written several posts on the benefits and reality of rapid writing, and I hope that it’s helped some of you make the decision to get more prolific by getting more productive.
Making it a goal to write more in less time seems like a no-brainer. So why do so many writers have trouble believing it’s possible? Many of you might be feeling resistant. You see the outputs of some writers and think there’s no way you could ever match them. Maybe you don’t want to believe it. There are two possible reasons for this.
The first is that you’re scared. What if you try and fail? Does that prove you’re a bad writer? What if you really, truly can’t write that much? What does that say about you? What if you finish your book and it’s rubbish? It’s better to pretend it’s not possible at all.
Then there’s the second reason. At first I was going to call this laziness, but I don’t think that’s it. You’re not lazy, though it can sometimes feel like you are (trust me, you’re not alone. I used to beat myself up about not doing “enough” a lot. Sometimes I even feel that way now if I’ve had a bad writing day.) You’re just unprepared for how hard writing can sometimes be. And trust me, writing is hard.
Let me run a scenario by you. You open up the document you’ve been typing your WIP in. You write a sentence, maybe two, but then you come to a point where you’re not really sure what to write next. You try to keep going. You may even force out a sentence or two… but you just have this awful feeling that what you’re writing sucks. You feel like a hack having typed it. You know you’re just going to delete it all and rewrite it later, so by writing now, you’re basically wasting time.
You’ll write again later when you’re not so blocked, you think. You click out of your manuscript and over to Facebook, where the discomfort you’ve been feeling is immediately replaced by the dopamine rush of GIFs and cat videos.
Sound familiar? I bet it does.
What’s a wannabe prolific writer to do? Below are some steps you can take.
What to do if you’re scared
If it’s fear that’s holding you back, there’s only one thing to do: accept that you’re work will never be as good as you want it to be.
That sounds counter-intuitive, I know, and it’s not a slam on your writing ability. When you picture your book in your head, the neurotransmitters in your brain instantaneously transmit vast quantities of information to each other, making it feel incredibly vivid and emotional. In comparison, black marks on a screen are a clunky and inefficient way to transmit information. So much is lost going from your brain to the keyboard. Even the Stephen Kings and J.K. Rowlings of the world experience this.
Don’t worry, though—your reader has neurotransmitters of their own that fill in the blanks, making it seem just as vivid to them as it did in your head. Cool, huh?
Anyway, your task is to accept that. A finished manuscript of decent words is better than a paragraph of words that were stressed over and rewritten multiple times.
What to do if you’re “lazy”
The first thing I want you to do is a case study. When you write, have a blank slip of paper next to you. Whenever you do something that isn’t writing, write down what it was. Did you click to Facebook? Check you email? Did you get up to make some tea or go to the bathroom? Then write down what you were doing/feeling right before you did the non-writing thing. Sometimes you go to the bathroom because you have to pee—but more often you go because you’re at a particularly difficult section of your manuscript.
Once you’ve figured out what makes you stop writing, figure out what to do for each problem. Make your tea before you sit down to write. Schedule a bathroom break. These are the easy ones.
Then turn your wi-fi off while you write. No Facebook, no Twitter, no email. Put your phone in another room while you’re at it.
Then, the next time you feel the need to click out of your manuscript, don’t. Tell yourself that writing is hard. Then write three sentences as quickly as you can.
Repeat as necessary. Soon, you’ll be so used to pushing through the uncomfortable parts of writing that you’ll barely notice them.
And you’ll have so many more words to show for it. Cat videos go away, but words are forever, my friends.
Thanks for reading! Now I want to know—what are YOU going to do to increase your writing productivity this week? Let me know in the comments!
For more info on rapid writing, I recommend the following books: