11 Tips For Maximum Writing Productivity

Find your best writing time: most writers have a particular time of day when they have an easier time concentrating and getting the job done. Be flexible yet consistent.

Find your best writing place: regularly writing in ‘your spot’ (and using that spot only for writing) puts you in a focused mindset.

Establish a healthy environment: make sure you’re comfortable and your posture isn’t warping your spine, and keep the room well lit and ventilated.

Eliminate distractions: avoiding distraction is a choice you alone can make. Know your weaknesses and actively remove them.

Set achievable goals: motivate yourself to keep going with small objectives you know you can accomplish. These small goals quickly add up to surprising results.

Take frequent breaks: get up, walk around, go outside, grab a drink, talk to people. Keep your mind fresh and your body active to avoid burning out.

Plan ahead: if you know what you’ll be writing before you sit down to do it, you’ll be more productive. Try to have at least a list of scenes for the day, or a basic chapter outline that you can follow.

Find alternate ways to stay productive: sometimes you can’t seem to get the words out at all. Don’t give up and waste your writing hours in self-pity! Find something else to do to advance your project and give you the satisfaction of a productive hour.

Establish accountability methods: if you set hourly/daily/weekly goals for yourself, have a strategy to make sure you meet those objectives (friends, prizes, word-count meters, etc.).  Find what works best for you.

Keep your writing tools simple: don’t get distracted by the dozens of apps/programs/toys that do everything for your manuscript except get it written. You can color-code your chapter headings later, friend.

Respect your limits: lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself. Put the whip away. Now and then you just need to take a day off.

What would we do without our fellow writers?

Warning: I’m feeling particularly snarky today. There, you’ve been warned. Proceed.

Writing communities are fantastic, and whether yours is a small group of friends in a coffee shop, an organized club, a Facebook group, or even the wide world of Twitter #amwriting spammers, you’re lucky to have those people in your life.

It’s Sunday, and we’re all lazy today (don’t lie to me, you sofa-spud), so for the sake of brevity and more coffee, I’ll keep my list of writing-community-benefits short.

Accountability: thank you, writerly friend, for that time you threw my TV, my phone, and my relatives out the window and hit me with a pool noodle until I crawled to my desk in tears.

Motivation: thank you, writerly friend, for that time you spammed my Twitter page with “You can do it, @derp” and “Only 2K words to go, @derp!” Your encouragement spurred me on to favorite all those tweets instead of meeting my deadline. You’re the best.

Feedback: thank you, writerly friend, for that time your email’s subject-line read “This chapter sucks. Start over.” Without you, I wouldn’t have realized that Ctrl + Alt + Delete would solve all my problems.

Inspiration: thank you, writerly friend, for finishing your first and second drafts in the time it took me to reboot my frozen laptop this morning. I wish to wordify as fastily as you someday.

Moral support: thank you, writerly friend, for buying me coffee and sitting with me while I sobbed over my first draft. Remember how pretty it was when my tears made tiny rivers with all the red ink?

Take a moment to thank the members of your writing community. Where would you be without them? Well, besides at your desk getting stuff done. That’s overrated.

10 reasons why writers are awesome!

Writers are awesome. That’s just the truth. I should know, I am one, and yes, I am awesome *pats self on shoulder and goes to look for friends.* But in all seriousness, if you’re a writer, here are ten reasons why you should feel really freaking good about yourself:

  1. You get to spend time doing what you love. Whether writing is an income source or a hobby, you enjoy those hours at the desk (most of the time). 
  2. The writing community! You have access to a community full of like-minded people that support you in your endeavors and give you feedback on your results.
  3. You are one powerful individual. Manipulating people’s fragile emotions (in an ethically acceptable way!) has never been more satisfying. 
  4. You’ve tapped into a beautiful part of the human mind. As an artist, you develop your creativity and imagination more than most people on the planet.
  5. Self-discovery. Writing reveals facets of your own character and personality that you yourself didn’t know existed.
  6. A healthy emotional outlet. The fiction you write is a great way to channel your emotions, even the negative ones like fear, sorrow, or anger.
  7. You influence society. Writing is one of the most powerful ways to challenge people to think, to act, or to change.
  8. You’ll impact people you’ve never met. If done well, your stories will be enjoyed by thousands of people who will love you for them.
  9. You don’t give up! Writing is hard work, and the fact that you throw yourself into it with all your determination proves you are strong.
  10. You’ll always be able to outdo yourself. The sky’s the limit and there are always new ideas. You’ll never run out of work!

The list could be a lot longer, but it’ll do for now! What else is there about being a writer that’s awesome? Drop a comment and keep the list going! 

 

Character development – Don’t be stingy!

It’s no secret that unique characters are key to successful storytelling. But in my experience, writers often err on the side of balance. They don’t want their characters to be over-the-top exaggerated, so they attempt to convey uniqueness through subtle strategies.

While that’s not bad, you could be missing out on a lot of great characters by trying to keep them ‘balanced’ or ‘plausible’. My advice is this: have fun and let loose!

Don’t be afraid to caricaturize your characters (say that five times fast!). What personality quirks make them so unique? Highlight those. Put them on display. Exaggerate them.

If readers wanted to spend time with subtle, balanced people, they’d go spend the weekend at the farm with Aunt Betsy. Subtlety leads to bland characters if not managed carefully. You don’t want bland characters! Bland characters are yuck!

Readers want to connect with weird, funny, dark, mysterious, angry, proud, pathetic, strong, timid, brazen characters. Bring each character’s most prominent traits to the forefront. They’ll be easier to understand and identify with, and you’ll have more fun writing them into your story!

Want an example? Look no further than Lloyd Alexander. His characters are unique, vibrant, loveable, and they all have personality traits on full display. If you don’t know who Lloyd Alexander is… *sad smile and comforting pat on the head*

Sure, sure, you’re writing fiction, not cartoons. So be prudent and purposeful. Try to avoid cliches and ‘typical’ portrayal strategies. But for heaven’s sake, don’t be stingy with your characterization.

Let loose and have fun. Your readers will appreciate it.

(Disclaimer: I have nothing against Aunt Betsy. I’m sure Aunt Betsy is a lovely person.)

New office and book plans!

Last night I finished a chapter in one of my novels-in-progress, which put me at a point where I need to plan out the next section before proceeding. The break comes at a good time, because today I’ve been busy on a fun project: I’m turning an old storage cabin into my new writing office!

I need the space because I’m a famous author and my books-to-sign were piling up in my room *ahem* *cough*. Anyways, the project involves a new roof, new flooring, and sorting through all the junk that was in it previously. This could take some time.

Maybe I’ll post some pictures in the near future.

In other news, I’ve got exciting plans for Little One! During the month of December I’ll be offering it at a discounted price for both ebook and paperback, as well as potentially running a giveaway drawing! Stay tuned for more info on that.

Between all that and Thanksgiving celebrations (a day late due to family arriving), I won’t have much time to write this weekend, but I’ll be back at it full steam come Monday!

In the meantime, check out some of the popular articles around here, subscribe via email, send me cookies, all that good stuff. See you all around!

Why should I care about your characters?

Today I’m just going to pose a question and let you do the answering. There are millions of self-published novels out there. It’s only logical to conclude that many of them share similar plot, themes, and characters.

As a writer, I want people to read my story. You want the same for yours. You’re essentially grabbing a reader by the ears and telling her that out of the millions of novels in existence, she should read yours next.

Characters are the driving force of any story. Plots are exciting and entertaining, but a solid, well-crafted character keeps us coming back no matter what plot he’s thrown into.

Back to the question. I, as a reader, ask you, the writer, the following: since I have thousands of characters at my fingertips, why should I care about yours?

If you as the writer can’t answer that question in the first pages of your novel, I’ll probably stop reading and go find someone who can.

It’s harsh, I know. But it’s a competitive and saturated market. It’s the way things work.

The good news is you CAN answer this question. It’ll take a lot of thought and examination of your characters, and maybe some change or rewriting, but I have faith in you.

Keep in mind the answer has to be independent of the plot. Look at who your character is, not what he does or will do. Explore his connection with himself and with other characters. Find the beating heart that makes him live. Tear it open and see what’s inside. Then answer the question.

You should care about my character because _______ .

Fill in that blank and find a way to convey that connection in your story’s beginning, and you’ll win over a lot more readers than if you merely plowed on ahead with the plot.

Trust me. I’ll be one of those readers.

The death of love in fiction

Love has been a core element of fiction since…well, since forever, I guess. It drives and unites characters, it pushes plot forward, it distinguishes good from evil, and it’s an integral part of what makes a story real to us.

Romantic love certainly isn’t the only manifestation of this force, but it is a prevalent one. It’s a trend I don’t foresee readers ever getting tired of because it resonates so much with the human heart.

But genuine love is all but gone from today’s fiction menu.

A culture that soaks up visual stimulation like a sponge has replaced selfless, sacrificial, protective love with superficial mind-candy.

Pick up any given book with a romantic element to it (doesn’t even have to be romance genre), and you’re just about guaranteed to find perfect bodies (featured on the cover to make sure the book sells), high-school level personalities (the angsty-yet-so-muscly dude who can’t ever seem to control his mysterious darker self), and instant-relationship kits that have the characters sucking face on page ten.

This trend is an insult to character development to say the least.

Writers and readers, have we forgotten what real love between authentic characters looks like?

Genuine love takes time, effort, trust, and truckloads of selflessness. It hurts, forgives, fails, and learns. It starts small and grows into something beautiful despite forces that hammer against it. It has pure intentions and puts the other person’s needs first. It does not rely on physical attraction to keep readers turning pages.

Instead, writers stoop to billboard standards, and  we’re stuck with the generic, shirtless vampire/werewolf/ninja/pirate whose understanding of love is reduced to, “That girl’s hot and I want her” and his female counterpart, a strong-willed babe who for no apparent reason falls for said shirtless moron no questions asked.

What people call love in most of today’s new fiction is manipulative, selfish, lust-driven, uncontrolled, and thinly veiled by cheap, meaningless revenge/rescue plots. And it stays at that.

The sad part is that those stories sell. It’s what the market wants. Writers are all too willing to take the easy route, and readers gobble it up because we live in a culture that thrives on the cheap, the quick, and the easily-obtained.

Unless we as writers step up and make a change, real love will disappear from fiction, and readers’ shelves will be stocked with empty shells of characters grasping for meaningful love in all the wrong places.