How to become a productive writer (for beginning writers)

If you’ve always wanted to become a pro writer or start writing more consistently, there’s no better time than the present to begin!

I hope you find the information below useful in starting your own journey in writing, whether you dream of writing fiction, non-fiction or both.

No. 1: Mindset (practice non-judgement)

Mindset is probably the easiest to overlook when you’re trying to embark on a creative project or path. It’s quite normal to think about things like time or inspiration as the most important, but I’ve learned time and time again that it all boils down to attitude. 

Finding Enough Time:

I realised that I did’t need a whole day to write. I just needed three hours a week for a 70,000 word novel draft: over half a year, the pages accumulate. Last year, I was teaching artistic movement classes for adults and also learning different things. I still managed an hour-a-week creative writing mentorship session and a few hours a week for building up my collection of short stories. 

In short, mindset plays a huge part in whether you’re going to be productive or not. Remind yourself that if writing is important to you, you will find the time for it somehow!

Tips for Mindset:

Create affirmations and speak them aloud. Something like: ‘I am a brilliant, prolific writer’ or ‘I allow myself to write what is living inside me.’

Tailor your affirmations to the fears or resistance that get in the way of your writing practice. 

Consciously changing negative self-talk to positive self-talk will open doors to greater productivity, because you learn to trust the voice that says ‘you can do it. You deserve time for your creativity,’ rather than ‘you don’t have the time/talent/energy to do it.’   

Remember that inspiration is not your responsibility, sitting down to write, is. 

S. S.

That can take a lot of the load off your shoulders. If you write something, anything, your job is done. Have the mindset that it doesn’t have to come out perfect and you will lovingly accept anything that comes out. Writing practice is not just about developing the skills of the craft but it is equally about developing compassion, patience, curiosity and non-judgement. 

You don’t have to be original. You don’t have to be smart. You just have to be you – and that changes every moment! 

No. 2: Set up to do the work (and play!)

Visualize the kind of writing space you would love to have and then arrange something that resembles it. 

To be productive as a writer (or any artist), it is essential to have a space and time carved out just for the work. There needs to be a receptive space that is ‘yours’. It could be a desk, a designated room or somewhere in the corner of the house. 

Set it up with your laptop, notebooks, folders, pens, books, chargers, as well as something to inspire you: a vase of flowers, some incense or a colourful painting – anything you feel drawn to. 

Eventually your practice will catch up with the goals you set yourself. 

S. S.

Next, try to think about a time of day that suits you, that you will most likely be in the mood to write. Be realistic. If you’re not an early bird, choose the afternoon or even late at night. Pick a time of day and aim for just half an hour a day or three hours a week to start off with. Even if it doesn’t always happen consistently in the beginning, don’t beat yourself up, just keep trying! Eventually your practice will catch up with the goals you set yourself. 

No. 3: Writing Tools and Exercises (building writing muscle)

writing exercises build writing muscle

When you sit down to write, it’s always a good idea to be working on a specific task. When starting a new project, do fifteen minutes of warm-up exercises. There are many writing prompts and exercises on the internet. Gather these into a word document or notebook and pick from it when you sit down to write. Then, carry on with your project work, ie. story, novel, essay.

I would recommend having some sort of mentor, whether its a writer friend you check in with once a week, a writing mentor, an editor, or even an online course where you have the chance to share your works-in-progress for feedback to peers – it keeps you growing in your work rather than working in total isolation. 

Tip: to keep your creative juices flowing, start a writer’s journal going – this is where you can collect ideas, character backstories, plot developments, odds and ends, inspiring phrases and other useful notes. 

Never try to force your writing! And never, ever worry about grammar or structure. There are many free softwares to take care of basic grammar and spelling and you can always get an editor further along the process to help with all the finishing, tidying and polishing of your work! 

Checklist:

  • Form personalised affirmations to overcome mental blocks
  • Visualize and set up your very own writing space 
  • Create a schedule (and do your best to stick to it)
  • Collect writing prompts and exercises to build writing muscle
  • Team up with a mentor, friend or join an online course for regular feedback
  • Start a writer’s journal
  • Writers online groups and forums: mentor, critiques, or beta reader

Resources:

  • Get Grammarly for free grammar & punctuation assistance

Are there any other areas or tips in writing productivity you would like to share with us? Please leave them in the comments below!