Well… Finished Chapter 15 on Friday and was more than thrilled to start Chapter 16 because it’s a pretty important one (not that they aren’t all important, but it is one of my favorite character’s first time to really hit the spotlight and I’m excited to write him).
Then the weekend happened. I love what I do all week, but even then, weekends are great, but this one was particularly good because an old college friend was in town and New Orleans has a lot of fun around St. Paddys. So I didn’t work then.
Then yesterday… I made the mistake of posting a tid-bit about grad school on my facebook which meant that my facebook and phone started blowing up all day. So I wrote about 500 words, most of which (I realized late last night) need to be cut.
On top of that, I just got to a coffee shop that I continue to come to even though (Every time!) I perpetually drink too much coffee and make myself sick. And I just put three sugars in said strong coffee so… I am a ticking time bomb. I may detonate like rocket fuel any minute now.
So much for starting Chapter 16…
I read a lot of productivity articles while procrastinating. It’s actually one of my favorite procrastination efforts because it creates the illusion of productivity. They all offer tips about efforts from meditation to isolation. Some of them are silly. Most are repititious. Hardly any of those tips work for me (If I start cleaning my desk, the house will eventually be spotless but I won’t have a word written).
Anyway, here are some of my personal productivity pointers:
1) Move location.
I hear this one a lot, because it’s the easiest fix. If you can’t write in your room because there is a bed and you have a terminal affinity for napping… then leave. Try writing outside (weather permitting). Try writing somewhere public and loud. Somewhere quiet. Somewhere with all your favorite things (even if it’s a weird place to write… like a bar). Everyone responds differently to different places. Just because your quiet room was the spot to write yesterday, doesn’t mean it is today.
Inversely… if you have a spot where you’ve hit a roll, stay there as long as you can! That space is now tied mentally to a productive work day. Try going to the last place you killed it at!
2) Read a book.
Whenever I can’t work, it’s because I’m stuck in my own words. Give someone else’s words a try.
3) Get a writing buddy.
I personally can’t write with another person around. My brain is hardwired for conversation because it’s easier than writing. I like to get a buddy that I can check in with and be like “6,000 words today! I am the Godzilla of children’s literature!” Have someone waiting on your writing… they’ll bug you into submission.
Sounds weird, but get yourself a little exercise-high. You’d be surprised how feeling good can get you going.
5) Don’t let that cursor blink.
Make a game out of it. Just write random words… Just list a bunch of adjectives that describe one character. Describe your best friend. The room you’re in. Your favorite memory. Just write and eventually you’ll get back to your project.
6) Time yourself.
I once had a teacher that gave us one minute to write down every verb (although this would work with almost every part of speech except articles/conjunctions) that popped into our mind. We could even just repeat them until a new word popped in. Then we wrote stories by connecting those adjectives to each other.
Also, timing yourself can give you fake, short-term deadlines. “Hey how long does it actually take me to write 1,000 words?”
7) Read your own work.
I hesitate to say this because it’s normally how I get stuck in an editing loop, but sometimes it’s refreshing to just go read your favorite passage in your work to remind yourself why you’re writing it.
8) Distract yourself first.
I get stuck thinking about other projects a lot. I spend all of my bad days sitting here thinking about this blog. So I’ve decided to do the blog first thing… Get it done, and put it aside so you can move on. This doesn’t apply to never-ending wastes of time. Do something with a clear end-point. That means no facebook… no youtube clips… you’ll be looping forever!
9) Sit in complete silence.
No technology. No writing even. No people around. Just sit there. Listen to the subtle sounds you never notice. Sit there for as long as you can until your brain can’t handle it and starts jumping around in your head. Write down the first thought that makes your brain go berzerk.
10) Take that nap, afterall.
Too tired to work? That’s ok! Naps can be a like the fresh-start of a new day. Maybe you just need to start over for a while.
BONUS) Still nowhere? Give it a break.
Don’t sit there and torture yourself. Today wasn’t your day. Go to bed early. Knock a few things off your to-do list. Get back in there tomorrow… Just don’t let tomorrow become the next day!
Feel free to share any Productivity Tips you guys might have. I’m always looking for some new trick to jump-start my brain.
(Sorry about all the updates… My Gifs won’t work in Publish, but they work in Preview… Dumb!)