I’m halfway through my experience of trying out the tips and tricks in the online course Writing Mastery: Productivity for Writers taught by Jessica Brody (read my review of the course for more information). That review was fine and dandy, but it also happened before I tried any of the tips and techniques, so now that I’ve had a chance to enact some of Jessica’s suggestions, have I become a more productive writer?
Yes! But there’s a caveat.
Have I produced more words this past month alone compared to the past year? Yes.
Have I written every single day, seven days a week? No.
Have I followed every single one of the the course instructor’s techniques religiously and with feverish zeal? For about the first five days, yes. Then…I had to modify some of the steps she mentions in the Morning Magic Routine. Out of the multiple steps outlined for this process, here are the ones I continue to do:
- I do wear my “writing only” outfit
- I do write in my Gratitude Journal every writing session
- I do eat a healthy breakfast
- I do listen to dark ambient versus binaural beats and have found my usual soundtrack of dark ambient to be more effective
- I do have a Sacred Writing Ritual, which is to pour myself a cup of coffee or tea and sometimes, to light a small candle.
- I do write 🙂
Has my word count got up? Yes. Exponentially. I’m not exaggerating. The funny thing is that even though I am tracking word count with the fantastic spreadsheet the course instructor provides with the purchase of the course, I feel a sense of satisfaction that I have accomplished something.
This is in stark contrast to the looming sense of dread, fear and shame that I experienced with NanoWrimo last November, where my focus was whether I hit enough words that the program demanded and whether I would fall behind.
So, my word count has, happily, gone up, but I think a big reason for this is because the course helps writers calculate their own average daily word count, and then the rest of the steps are based on you as an individual writer and meeting your own goals as opposed to trying to push yourself to conform to someone else’s required word counts.
The one thing I am struggling with most — and that I wish the course instructor devoted more time to — is the whole getting up early and having enough energy to get through the morning thing. I’ll admit that I still haven’t mastered the art of not relying on a snooze button to get up.
There have been days I have been dead tired for many reasons I won’t get into, and I haven’t been able to get up at 7am despite having moved the time I go to bed earlier than where it was previously (My goal is to get to 6am. Let’s just say I’m still building up to that).
The one thing I completely agree with the instructor 100% about is that a person does their best and most productive writing in the morning. Yes, I know several writers who get their best writing done in the evenings, on their lunch breaks, during their subway rides, and other different times of the day, but for me, switching to mornings has been a gamechanger.
The other amazing thing this course has taught me is that I don’t need uninterrupted marathon 8-hour days to get writing done and to be productive (although that’s perfectly valid and for those writers for whom marathons are a daily reality, more power to you).
Here are some other things I have found helpful:
- I have been very good about turning off notifications on my phone, not turning on my phone until my writing session is done, putting my phone in another room, and generally looking at my phone a lot less.
- I don’t write on a laptop or computer, so I don’t have to worry about turning off distractions on that front.
- In an ideal world, I would like to check Facebook less times a day but one step at a time.
What I had to cut out or move to a different time of the day because it just wasn’t working for me:
The stretching–I’m incredibly sore upon waking up. This is a daily reality for me. This makes it challenging to move around and I don’t like to add to my pain if I can help it.
The five-minute meditation–if you can swing it, great. I felt this step was a bit cumbersome for me to get through as I already do my meditation in the evenings, but to each their own.
The multiple journals—as I mentioned above, I write in my gratitude journal, which I find helpful, but the goal journal was just turning into me writing the same thing every day, which was “Write x amount of words today”, which is a goal I have met every day I have been writing. I accept that goal-setting is something I need to improve, but I had to cut it down to one journal.
Writing tools–so, many of the course instructor’s suggested guidelines are catered to laptop writers, which is fine because most people do this. I have done it in the past. However, as I did during NanoWrimo, I am writing on my Neo AlphaSmart, which is an electric typing device. The other writers I know who have an AlphaSmart (like Adam Cesare, for instance) swear by it and I’m one of them. If extended longhand writing wasn’t so painful for me, I would write do that.
So, Anita, will I become a more productive writer if I make like you and do the course you’ve been talking about? It’s quite possible, but I find the other things that have contributed to my success are grit, determination, and above all, passion for my project. I am writing a possibly Young Adult Gothic novel, and I am loving every minute of it. On those days when I haven’t written, I hate that icky feeling I’ve received because I want to spend as much time in the universe I’ve created.
However, I think one of the good things about limiting my writing sessions to 1 or 1.5 hours at a time is that it keeps my energy and passion for the project going–if I spent 3 or 4 hours a day writing this project, which I could, ostensibly do, I would get sick of it after a while and I wouldn’t have enough energy to carry me through to the next day.
By limiting my spurts of “you only get to work on this book for a finite amount a day, and you’re on a timer, so make the most of it!” I think I am setting myself up for the achievable results I am seeing, with a huge increase in output.
This course has been a godsend for me because I know so many writers who have worked out their own routines and know what works for them and they are generally jiving with their writing processes.
But for the longest time I struggled with not understanding the circumstances that got in the way of me getting writing done, and now that I have figured them and found a solution to get around those obstacles (for the most part), my writing productivity has definitely improved.
I encourage everyone who is struggling with not getting writing done to take a look at this course I am talking about and try it out. See if the outlined methodologies work for you. I know it seems overwhelming or like it’s a lot, but once you get to the stage where you’ve formed a habit, you will want to keep it up. I know I do 🙂