Natural Writing Forces + Productivity

Natural Writing Forces and Writing Productivity | Kate Johnston | Writing Coach | Editor

What does being a more productive writer mean to you?

To be a more productive writer, you need to know WHAT that means in relation to your current circumstances. What you would like to see change? What would you like to maintain? Think about who you are as a person, how you operate in the real world. Examine your personal habits, personality traits, work ethic, triggers, moods, values, habits, strengths, and flaws. I refer to these collectively as Natural Writing Forces because they directly impact your writing productivity.

Where are you headed in your writing journey?

WHERE do you want to go in your journey? Is your ultimate vision to be a traditionally published novelist, a staff writer for The New Yorker, a screenwriter in Hollywood, or a lifestyle blogger? If you don’t know where you’re going in your writing quest, you won’t know you’ve gotten there and you won’t know what it will take to achieve your ultimate vision. Productivity would then be a moot point.

Why do I want to be a productive writer?

Knowing your WHY, your purpose, will help you find the motivation to increase your productivity efforts. If you are not clear on why being productive is important, or how it’ll make a difference in your journey, then you’re going to struggle. Conversely, if you are trying to be productive for the wrong reasons, you will struggle.

How can I increase writing productivity?

The fourth (and equally important) part to this formula is the HOW. What process, what system will get you there? Deadlines, goals, mindset, accountability, and schedules can all play important roles toward helping you become a more productive writer—but how will you put them to work for you? Every writer has a unique presence, and brings their own systems or approaches to the table. No two writers are alike in their habits, personality traits, project vision, writing process, triggers, strengths, or struggles.

Writing productivity is directly affected by your Natural Writing Forces. They are always at work, whether you know what they’re up to or not, and they directly affect you in the productivity arena. They determine what time of day you prefer to write. If you finish your projects. Whether you turn to Facebook when the writing isn’t going well. If you let fear stand in your way.

You chose to embark on this quest. Now determine your WHAT, WHERE, WHY, and your HOW. Tap into your Natural Writing Forces to begin learning which traits will help you on your journey and which traits might hinder you.

GO INWARD

We measure writing productivity by what we can see happening with our projects. How many words we write per day or if we meet our deadlines. This tempts us into focusing on the result (or lack of) our approach. If all is running smoothly, then that’s fantastic. You’re consistently hitting the range of productivity.

But if things aren’t running smoothly, sometimes you might make the mistake to correct the external forces (changing the time of day you write, or skipping weekends because they’re too busy) before going deeper and making sure that an internal energy/behavior isn’t the reason for poor output.

Internal energies and behaviors such as confidence, motivation, habits, and personality traits influence the overall success of our productivity. So doesn’t it make sense to know under which conditions you work best in order to be the most productive?

Through managing and modifying your Natural Writing Forces you can build an effective writing world that works exclusively for you.

MAKE WRITING PRODUCTIVITY PERSONAL

Natural Writing Forces are a complex system of internal and external energies. Each writer brings their own personal traits, moods, values, strengths, and energies to their work every day. Because no two days are ever the same (and we don’t feel the same kinds of moods and energies from one day to the next), the writer must figure out how to manage their system of internal writing forces for optimal productivity.

If you look at your productivity and try to align it with the productivity of master storytellers, you will get stuck. They have their own writing forces that affect their output; you have yours. Use yours to help you become a more productive writer. Make it personal.

For example, your internal writing forces could include:

  • Motivated by classical music
  • Short attention span
  • Increased energy midday
  • Inspiration from writers’ group
  • Overly self-critical

These personality traits and moods and energies (good, bad, and ugly) all influence your work. It is your job to learn how to manage this system so each individual trait, mood, and energy can work effectively. Productivity rises when you tap into the beneficial forces. Negative patterns could emerge if you don’t tame unruly traits such as short attention span or disorganization.

    However, what serves as an unruly trait for one writer may not hold back another writer. Take disorganization as an example. Not everyone needs to be organized to be productive. Some people thrive in chaos and disorder. Is that you? How do you know? If so, are you using it to its fullest impact on getting stuff done?

Making your productivity personal will help you build writing practices that work for you rather than hold you back. Everyone has flaws and strengths in their writing practices. The most productive writers are the ones who learn which forces actually benefit them and which forces need to be modified or tamed in some way. Never forget that even habits and traits that are stereotypically negative or limiting may actually aid in your productivity.

How can you develop your natural writing forces to be a more productive writer?

Start by assessing a single work day or single writing block. Pick an average, run-of-the-mill day where you plan to do some writing. The more true to life a day it is the better, because the data you collect won’t be skewed. In other words, don’t go to a café for this self-assessment if you don’t normally write in a café. Don’t write at midnight (knowing you won’t be interrupted by kids) if you don’t normally write at midnight.

Figure out how to fit your internal writing forces into a true-to-life kind of schedule so that you aren’t stampeded by overwhelm and panic.

Run this self-assessment over a period of seven-ten days and look for trends. Some questions to ask yourself (and add your own as they come up):

  • Which habits motivate you to write? Which ones hold you back?
  • When you are sitting and writing, what is your predominant feeling? Are you engaged in your story’s world or distracted? Are you feeling joyful and relaxed, or edgy?
  • How long is a typical writing session?
  • Is it easy for you to make time for writing, or do you find yourself doing “one more chore” first?
  • When you think about finishing your project, what is the feeling that comes to mind? Excitement? Nervousness? Self-doubt? Pride?

Once you discover the internal forces that propel you forward, you can begin setting goals, looking for an accountability partner, scheduling writing sessions—because now you’ll have a solid idea of how you work best.

8 thoughts on “Natural Writing Forces + Productivity”

  1. While I don’t write novels, choosing instead to write a blog [as you know], I’d humbly suggest that keeping one, a public blog, is the best accountability partner there is. I’ve said to the whole world I’ll be here and then I reply to/interact with people in the comment section about what they want to say. It keeps my mind clicking and forces me to be in the moment in a way that is dynamic. I don’t feel stuck when I’m blogging in the ways that I have when trying to write something deeper, longer, permanent.

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    • Yes! A blog is amazing accountability. Once you have even just one person who expects to hear from you on a regular basis (whatever that might be) can be so motivating. Kind of like having a workout partner for the gym–I can always talk myself out of going, but if I had to meet someone there, I’d go because I wouldn’t want to let them down.

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  2. These are excellent ideas. I don’t think much of ‘more productive’ but maybe I should. I write, a lot, and rewrite just as much. Maybe if I thought about doing it better, I’d save time. Hmm…

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    • I think it truly depends on how you feel about your current level of productivity. If you feel satisfied and genuinely good about your progress by the end of the day, then that tells you so much more than charts and time tracking! 🙂

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  3. Great ideas that give me much to ponder. But having to constantly put out content, I know that there is nothing like a deadline to get me writing!

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    • Indeed! Your comment makes me think of the controversy surrounding “writer’s block” and how journalists could never claim to suffer from such an ailment or they’d be out of a job!

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  4. There are so many aspects to writing, and lately I’ve realized that “thinking” is one aspect, and even “sleeping” (and dreaming up stories) and “walking” (getting out and rebooting my brain) are part of my writing productivity. Sometimes at the end of the day my guy will say, “were you productive today?” For some reason, his question can irritate me. If productive means writing 500 words, then, well, no. If productive means being/feeling creative, writing and thinking and sleeping and dreaming and engaging in ways that will affect my writing in different ways – well then, yes, I’ve been extraordinarily productive! 🙂

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    • Oh my gosh, I love this, Pam. It’s so true! Productivity includes so much more than number of words written. Daydreaming is a HUGE part of the writing process and non-writers don’t seem to understand that at all. So glad you brought that up!

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