Motivation Monday: The Trap Of Productivity For Writers

I’m a huge fan of everything productivity-related, especially productivity for writers. I can click my way around the web for minutes and hours on end, devotedly researching—hoping to find one magic strategy or trick.

Here’s why: writing is hard work.

When you’re researching, you’re not writing… However, you’re blithely certain that one day, really soon, you’ll find something which will make writing effortless.

You’re not procrastinating, perish the thought. Think of all the time you’ll save when you find that magic technique which makes your writing flow like water from a tap. It’s your duty to find that magic.

(Sigh…) It takes courage to admit that researching productivity is mostly procrastination, because writing takes energy and application. Although writing isn’t hard labor, like digging ditches, often you’d rather be out in the fresh air digging a ditch rather than sitting staring at your computer monitor.

Researching productivity isn’t writing.

Only writing is writing.

Productivity for writers means… writing (ouch)

E.L. Doctorow said it best:

“Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.”

Researching productivity isn’t the only way I fool myself and procrastinate rather than write.

My favorite procrastination strategies include:

  • Rereading previous chapters of my current novel. This is a pernicious habit, because you’ll always find things you can rewrite. So you rewrite: until you realize you’re procrastinating…
  • Researching (sigh…)
  • Creating intricate mind maps. After all, you must keep track of your characters and all the open threads in your novel, mustn’t you? This has much the same effect as rereading previous chapters. You spend a lot of time on it without writing any new words.

Only writing is writing: write new words, every day

I wish I could find an easier way, but the only way I manage to keep myself writing is by keeping a writing log, with a word count.

At the end of the day, if my word count is low, I check the log and I can immediately see why: I spent too much time on email, or on the phone, or creating a proposal, or whatever.

Productivity for writers turns out to be simple. It’s: writing.

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