The mere action of writing words on a blank document does not make us productive. Productivity as writers comes from creating material that concisely conveys our message to our target audience, earning from our writing, and being able to finish our writing commitments in the time expected.
No writer can be productive all the time – forever. There are lulls and even periods of total writer’s block. The trick is to lay the foundation for productivity, even in times when we find ourselves stalling a little.
The points below will show you just how to create a productive writing environment which will help immensely in times of need.
A stimulating writing environment
You’ll find that you’re more productive if your working area is surrounded by things you like, enjoy or find relaxing. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have an office. Wherever you write, your working area or station should be separate from the rest of your life – even if it’s behind a screen in a corner of your dining room.
- Hang pictures you find relaxing or inspiring on the wall in front of you.
- If you have a window with a view, make sure you can see it from your chair so that you can take breaks and look out to nature regularly throughout your working day.
- If scents inspire you, have scented candles burning nearby.
- Collect your favourite inspiring or relaxing music on an album and keep them specifically for playing while you’re writing.
- Even herbal teas or the occasional wine can inspire you.
Get rid of clutter for a productive writing environment
If you work in a cluttered environment your brain will also feel cluttered and stagnated. Your desk doesn’t have to be spotless, but it needs to have some free space to give you the impression of thoughtfulness.
Your brain can’t function properly when it’s distracted. It’s the same reason you forget where you’ve left your keys if you were distracted when you put them down.
It’s the very reason you become forgetful in periods of stress. Your brain needs to be clear to leave space to be inspired. A clear desk and work station is a ripe environment for inspiration.
If you can, you should also try to de-clutter your computer desktop. I’ve recently stored a lot of material remotely and on memory sticks, which meant I could remove files and folders from my desktop altogether.
Have proper tools
Every worker needs tools to do his/her job. If your carpenter turned up to fix your shelf without a screwdriver and a hammer, you’d think he was a conman. Writers are no different. We need our tools. If you can’t get steady internet connection from your home, work from a café or library.
Nothing will sap your confidence and productivity quicker than frustration. If you can’t connect to do your research, you can’t complete your work.
- Collect a library of books you need for your work. Even though e-books are all the rage now, they can’t beat the satisfaction you feel from forming your own library collection.
- You should also have a few memory sticks for backing up your work, even if you have an i-Cloud back-up system in place.
- Have a comfy chair. If you can’t sit comfortably you could end up with repetitive strain injury. I’ve hurt my leg from sitting uncomfortably at my desk before.
Get rid of distractions for a productive writing environment
We said above, you should surround your work station with things that relax and inspire you. Distractions work in the opposite way. If you’re working in a room in which you store your exercise bike (for example) you’ll be constantly reminded that you should be taking some exercise rather than sitting down writing. If the TV is on in the room or your computer constantly beeps whenever you receive a new email, you won’t get into the proper work zone inside your head.
- Turn off all gaming and email beeps.
- Keep the TV off if you’re working near to one.
- Make sure your chair doesn’t creak, and that you’re sitting comfortably. There’s nothing worse than a constant back pain while you try to meet your writing deadline. Discomfort or pain will kill your inspiration.
Don’t work yourself dry
I’ve done this time and time again. I work way too late into the night. I work too long at week-ends etc. This is counter-productive to say the least.
Work when you’re most productive. If you’re a morning person you may find that getting up early in the morning to work will reap more benefits for you. If you’re a night-owl on the other hand, working later when everyone else has gone to bed may be better for you.
Don’t squeeze yourself dry. If you sit in front of the computer for too long, your productivity levels will plummet. Consequently, your brain and body and will subconsciously become programmed to do nothing as soon as you sit down and turn on the computer. Each time you pick up the computer, you’ll be faced with the same thing – unproductiveness.
Prevent this from happening in the first place and pace yourself. Have a time table (link shows you multiple benefits of having a writing timetable) and work only during your productive hours. Less is more in this case. Working five hours a day may be better for you than working ten if you’re not getting anything done, and you’re falling deeper and deeper into a rut.
Take a day off. It’s hard for freelance writers to pace themselves because they don’t have working hours. They work from home so the temptation to work all the time is quite strong. In the same way that you have to be disciplined to work, you also have to be disciplined to stop working.
Over to you:
Do you have writing routines: things you do before you start writing to get yourself in the right frame of mind? What sort of systems do you have in place to make sure you create a productive writing environment for yourself? Please share them in the comment section below and tell us how this system works for you.
Anne Lyken-Garner is a published author. She’s also a freelance writer and resident editor of YPP. Anne specialises in helping people – writers included – build confidence in their abilities. Her inspirational memoir, Sunday’s Child is now out.