Here are 5 strange truths we authors know about being productive.
- STARING AT A BLANK SCREEN FOR HALF AN HOUR, DEEPLY CONSIDERING WHERE WE NEED TO TAKE THAT NEXT SCENE, COUNTS AS PRODUCTIVITY. It might not count as “writing,” per se…. But it can definitely be productive. Especially for those of us who don’t like to outline and need some time to gather our thoughts before we write, because we don’t have a prepared guide to go by.
- REWORDING ONE SENTENCE FIVE TIMES OVER THE COURSE OF SIX OR SEVEN MINUTES IS PRODUCTIVE. Provided the sentence ends up better than it started…. more precisely worded. Or less “wordy.” Word choice can make all the difference in the world: especially when it comes to making dialogue come alive.
- DELETING HALF A PARAGRAPH AS UNNECESSARY AFTER FRUITLESSLY TRYING TO REWORD A SENTENCE IN THAT PARAGRAPH FIVE TIMES OVER THE COURSE OF TEN MINUTES IS PRODUCTIVE. Maybe not as productive as cutting the fluff to begin with, but hey…. Sometimes we need to tinker around with a sentence or two for a bit before we realize, “the reason I can’t make this work is because the info is confusing when placed right here, or boring, or redundant. Not because I had worded it poorly.”
- SOMETIMES IT’S JUST AS IMPORTANT TO FEEL PRODUCTIVE AS TO BE PRODUCTIVE. Mindset is everything, after all. This is why we do things like make retroactive to do lists, and cross completed items off…. Or put simple household tasks like “do laundry” or “run dishwasher” on to do lists. Yeah…. I really hope I’m not the only one who does that!
- READING YOUR OLD WORK IS A GREAT WAY TO BOOST CONFIDENCE, AND BOOST PRODUCTIVITY AS A RESULT. You just might be able to see how much your writing has improved, and be positive and upbeat about the experience of reliving the “bad old days.” Either that, or you’ll get a great, healthy dose of embarrassment to keep writer’s ego in check and remind you of what bad habits you tend to fall into (so you can make sure to avoid them.)
So, what are some strange truths about productivity you’ve discovered as a writer? Anything that surprised you? Any tendencies that others might not define as “productive” but that put you in a frame of mind, or prepare you in some other way, to get down to writing and to make the most of the time you have your pen in hand (or your hands on the keyboard)?
I used to get in the habit of believing that pre-writing, or organizing my approach to my novel, was “wasted time.” Time I should have spent writing. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Pre-writing is productive time, and essential time, no matter how you pre-write or what organizational methods work for you. Sure, in the end, it’s all about word count and what you have on the page. But those words can’t come from nowhere and no place.
Victoria Grefer is the author the Herezoth trilogy, which begins with “The Crimson League.” She also has a writer’s handbook out, titled “Writing for You: A Novelist’s Guide to the Craft of Fiction.”
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