I feel like this month I have done nothing but write, whether that be writing fun things like new stories or creatives pieces, or the less than fun things like essays and dissertation practice. While, admittedly, some bits have been more boring than others, I have really enjoyed this little kick up the bum and pick up in my writing performance. Because of that, I thought I might share with you a few little tips and tricks that I’ve developed to help me knuckle down and just write. Hopefully you’ll find this useful, or it’ll spark some inspiration within you, but mainly it’s so I now have a record of a time I was productive and hopefully will guilt me into being more so!
- Music: I cannot stand the sound silence. Seriously, it gives me the creeps. You ask anyone who has had to live with me or spend any about of time with me and they will back me up when I say I can’t stand it. I think silence is more distracting than the loudest noises all played at once. I’m always trying to fill silence, whether that’s with me wittering away or with videos or TV on too quietly. It doesn’t matter what it is just so long as it breaks the silence. Because of this I really recommend making your own little playlist, whether that be songs that motivate you, inspire you, or have you saying ‘ok, I’ll have a break until this one is over’. I have found music has really saved my writing this month and I’ve had a fair few days when I’ve got lost in the moment and had to sit back and go, ‘Really? I’ve written all that?!’ A couple of my favs at the moment have to be: Adele’s ‘Water Under the Bridge’; ‘Rockabye’ by Clean Bandit etc; ‘Shape of you’ by Mr Sheeran (obvs); and ‘Blow your Mind’ by Dua Lipa and ‘Wasted Youth’ by Bonnie McKee at tied first. That beings said ‘How far I’ll go’ from the Moana Soundtrack and ‘Absolutely Smitten’ by Dodie have been overplayed a lot this month.
- Internet-free zone: I doubt I’m the only one who falls all to frequently into a social media sinkhole and disappears for hours at a time. My guilty pleasure at the moment has been Instagram and Youtube, with my fingertips never too far from a Zoella vlog or an Itswaypastmybedtime video – what can I say, I think I’m just really missing December when there was a video. every. single. frickin. day. But the trouble with these is that they quickly take away my focus from doing productive things and my writing starts growing cobwebs from hours of abandonment. So, my technique at the moment has been to turn my internet of for an hour at a time, with a 15-30min break when it gets turned back on. So far it has worked really well for removing temptation and, when I do suddenly get those urges which tell me I ABSOLUTELY NEED TO CHECK SOMETHING, I simply dot them down and wait for my break. Like I say, it’s worked really well so far and has definitely helped my word count.
- To-do Lists: Carrying on from the theme of lists, I often find a to-do list helps with my productivity. At the very least, it helps me map out exactly what I want to achieve and, somehow, I feel like if it’s written down, I somehow fail if I don’t at least try to achieve it. Honestly, sometimes guilt works wonders.
- Re-fuel: I have to say, the most frequent thing that stops me writing is needing a snack or wanting a drink. That isn’t to say that I actually want a snack or need a drink. Mainly it just means ‘I’m so bored and I can probably stretch making a cup of coffee to last five hours’. No. Stop. Bad Bronwen. Finally, I have opted to start allowing myself regimented stops which tempts me away from pointless breaks. I always have a 1l water bottle beside me (which, side note, has really helped me guzzle a lot more water) along with a cheeky biscuit or two. I’m not saying it’s fun, and I’m not saying it’s not tempting to just sneak a cube of chocolate and abandon my laptop for a good ten minutes, but I’m saying it means I am at least trying to get rid of distractions.
- Send yourself positive thoughts: More often or not when I’m writing, I am convinced it is worth little more than lining a Guinea Pig cage and being used as bedding. Normally, it isn’t until I stop and reread it or finish my first draft that I feel confidence creeping in. Well, this year I’ve tried to minimise those bad thoughts and surround myself with positivity and I honestly think it has really helped. The area above my desk is now littered with little inspirational and motivational sayings, as well as my past best marks to remind myself that, shock horror, I am actually quite good at my degree. I think it’s so easy to lose confidence and bully yourself so I really recommend crushing that voice and reminding yourself that you can conquer and achieve anything.
And that’s that, there are my five little helpful tips on how to be a little more productive when writing. I know it probably seems simple, and there are undoubtedly a few tips there that are so obvious that they have you going ‘um-durr’ but sometimes being reminded of the obvious is just as useful as learning something completely new. I hope you’ve had a lovely month this January and let me know what you’re really proud of ! Happy writing xx