We all want to be more productive when we write. Today, we're more time-poor than we have ever been before. Not only is there some weird society kudos handed around for being 'busy', but also, we have a huge array of entertainment options. Think Netflix, Foxtel, Stan, Youtube, social media, free-to-air television, and then there's actual interaction with family and friends. So how can we ensure we get more words on the page?
I work with a lot of authors, and by far, this is the number-one productivity tip I hear time and time again. It's something super simple, and something you can do, too.
So, are you ready? Here it is:
Don't stop until you know what happens next.
What do I mean?
Only quit your writing session when you know exactly what will happen next. The next sentence. The next paragraph. Get yourself to a point where you know the next words to fall from your fingers, when they're just burning to be released, and then hit the little 'X' on your document and walk away.
Why does this work?
This works for several reasons.
1: You're less likely to procrastinate. When it's time to sit down and write again, you don't have a sense of dread hanging over your head. You're not thinking 'Oh gosh, what will I write? Hmm, that's a little intimidating. Maybe I'll think about making dinner while I wait for inspiration. Or doing the laundry. Or maybe I should call my neighbours and ask if they need laundry done.' (Just me?). Knowing there's a clear direction for your next line makes you all the more likely to avoid procrastination temptation and get back in the writing saddle.
2: There's antici .. antici ... anticipation! When you start a book, do you get that feeling where you're just dying to write? Where the desire to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, is like this living, breathing thing inside of you?
Knowing what the next part of your story is gives you that same sense of excitement. You'll be desperate to get back to your manuscript so you can scratch that itch and put those words out there. Which leads me to my next point ...
3. You want to finish what you started. They say every great novel centres around a question. A 'what if' the writer poses that the reader will then want to discover.
As humans, we are inherently curious. That means that by posing a question, by starting an idea but not completing it, not putting those next words on paper, we're going to be left with a desire to achieve. We want to finish what we start - that's just a part of our makeup. Resolution, baby! It's who we are.
So what about you? Have you tried stopping when you know what happens next?