It’s easy for a writer to be intimidated by the blank page. If you followed my previous advice, you know what you need to concentrate on, and you have a project and a strategic goal. But you might be finding that even if you have a goal in mind, getting the words down on the page is extremely difficult. Sometimes, that just comes down to confidence. When I write, the confidence I feel in a project massively impacts on my productivity. So how do you become a faster writer?
Simple: use a small task to build your creative confidence.
Writing is a time consuming profession, and the number of hours that have to go into it before you have something passable as a final product can be mind boggling. So there’s always the temptation to go straight to the big project and spend all your hours on that. Sometimes though, the faster writer actually takes the time to lay the foundations before they start writing.
My main task is a redrafting of my latest book. For a time, however, I felt like I couldn’t look at the screen, let alone make a decent start on the editing. Instead I procrastinated and avoided working on it (a positive side effect has been that the dining room is the cleanest it’s been for months, but that won’t help me get another book finished).
My problem was simple – I needed to get back into the flow of writing. I was avoiding my work, and I was starting to feel guilty about it. But I just couldn’t get back to it. So I decided to take baby steps, and soon found that, if I created a small pre-writing task, I was able to get into the zone a lot quicker and become a faster writer.
What this advice isn’t
I don’t want you to think that I’m telling you to do something different to your main project. You know what you have to do, and you should stick to it. However, there are always things around the edges of projects that, while not easy, can be completed quickly to give you a sense of accomplishment and build that creative confidence. These tasks should be:
- Linked to the project you’re working on
- Completed in 5-10 minutes
- Involve writing (it seems obvious, but make sure you’re getting some words on the page)
Some examples could be:
- A character sketch
- A setting sketch
- A monologue in a secondary character’s voice
Three examples, then, of what you could do when you’re next stuck trying to get back into a project. Not all of the above will be easy, but they will allow you to be immersed in the story you’re trying to write.
Why you need to do this
The benefits of starting your writing sessions with a small, easy task can have lasting effects when you start working on the big project:
- The right task can help build the world you are putting together. It can help you learn more about the universe you’re working on, or the characters that inhabit it. You’ll find that you aren’t wasting time with this small job, you’re spending it wisely to build a stronger, richer, world.
- It’s difficult to complete a massive novel in one writing session. It’s not that difficult to complete the a small task. Before you’ve even started working on your big project for the day, you’ve already accomplished something.
- You might start to enjoy your writing again. If you create a small story or put together a quick poem about something totally unrelated, the chances are you’ll really enjoy it, and get encouraged about your writing again.
Using small tasks, whether they are writing based or not, give you a sense of accomplishment and help build that confidence, which will then translate into a faster writing marathon. You’ll already be immersed in the world or your story, and ready and raring to go!
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