Even for writers, sometimes writing sucks. We’ve all had writer’s block in some form or another. Maybe you feel like you just can’t get in the zone, you are writing too slow, or when it’s time to sit down and you see that empty page (or a blank screen), suddenly all of your thoughts have left you. It is a common struggle for writers of all kinds – but you are not alone. If you have trouble coming up with ideas, can’t organize your thoughts, or are just not satisfied with what you write, try the following tips to boost productivity and get more out of your writing.
- Write in the Right Space
To engage in productive, high-quality writing, it is imperative that you are writing in a work environment that suits you. Of course, you must eliminate distractions. Set limits for your phone usage and don’t use your computer for checking notifications or other tasks (even if it’s work) while you are writing.
Never write in the same place where you sleep or relax. Psychologically, it is much harder to reach peak performance when you haven’t changed your physical environment. Find a workspace that makes you feel safe and comfortable. If you find yourself worrying about peering eyes during your writing, then find a solitary location, like a hidden corner of the local library. If you don’t mind having people around, or prefer background noise to help you focus, try a nearby café. Experiment with different workspaces until you find one that makes you comfortable. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to mix it up. If you feel stuck in a rut, then try out a new spot to get a fresh head. Strong writers often have multiple working spaces to alternate between when the routine starts to feel stale or monotonous.
2. Do Writing Exercises
Practice recreational writing exercises when you aren’t working. Try freewriting: simply write down whatever is on your mind. The most important thing is to keep the creative flow going – so get playful! Write about something you enjoy; this will associate positive feelings with writing to relieve stress and make you more comfortable with putting words on paper.
Try journaling. Writing regularly will boost your confidence and vocabulary, so keeping a journal or diary is a great way to hone your writing skills. If you are really looking for your writing to grow, then journal about more complex topics than day-to-day thoughts or activities. Choose to learn about one topic that interests you each day and write about what you learned.
Keep trying new exercises. Variety will keep your mind open and you will continue to find exercises that suit you. Many novelists use writing exercises as outlining techniques for plot or character development.
3. Use Brainstorming Tools
The best way to boost your productivity and writing speed is strong organization. When the time comes to write, organize your thoughts as much as possible before you dive in. Outlining and planning ideas takes the pressure off the actual writing. It gives you the chance to flesh out your thoughts and get a grip on the message you want to deliver. Especially for longer projects like novels, outlining is essential to keep you on track and let you play with different concepts before you are multiple chapters deep.
Braincat is a great online organizational tool for writers. With the motto “think better”, it is designed to help you clear your mind and see your project clearly. This app works in multiple ways:
- It allows you to input all of your thoughts, in any order, so you aren’t left with the weight of loose ends and details cluttering your mind.
- It asks guiding questions to get you thinking outside of the box, with a question set geared specifically for writers.
- It helps you condense dozens of disparate bits and pieces into a few key ideas.
- You get to decide the importance of each detail in the project, working from the bottom up, rather than limiting your creativity by working top-down.
- It shows you your data in multiple formats to let you see the project in different ways.
- Most importantly, it doesn’t ask you to name your project until the very end, giving you the opportunity to make new realizations before you name your “big idea.”
4. Find a Writing Friend
The best way to learn and grow is to get new perspectives. Have a trusted friend or writing colleague read your writing and offer advice. Hearing positive affirmations will boost your confidence, and constructive criticism from someone in the writing field is the best way to make specific improvements. Additionally, do the same for other writers you know. By reading or editing the work of others, you will learn new techniques about how others write and expand your vocabulary.