7 Creative Writing Tips for Increasing Productivity

creative writing

Creative writing tips for better productivity.

Productivity. It’s all been said and done. In fact, you could spend more time learning how to be productive than actually being productive.

For us creative types, productivity can be a fleeting thing. We experience highs (a whole month packed with inspiration) and lows (three more months fraught with the ever-annoying writer’s block).

It can be frustrating. But creative writing doesn’t have to be a fair-weather hobby. Many successful authors have harnessed creativity, reigned it in, and turned it into a full-time profession. So we know it can be done.

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Succeeding in the arts takes a tremendous amount of drive, ambition, and dedication. It’s not the kind of job you have to show up for every day or risk being fired. Nobody cares if you get your work done except you.

Creative Writing Tips for More Output

Here are seven creative writing tips to help you be more creative more often. Try them all and see which ones work for you.

1. Show up for work: Set a time every day, show up, and get your creative writing done. It could be an hour a day (two hours on weekends!) or fifteen minutes. It can be first thing in the morning or right after dinner. The point is to make a schedule and stick with it. This will not only lead to more output, it will also lead to better writing.

2. Give yourself a quota: Can you produce twenty pages a week? Ten? Five? Some of us work better when we count words rather than minutes. If that sounds like you, then forget about time allotments. Show up for work every day, but focus on your output rather than on your time card.

3. Reward yourself: If you manage to show up every day or fulfill your quota, then by all means, give yourself a pat on the back. Whether it’s a trip to the masseuse or a book you’ve been dying to read, reward your own positive behavior with special treats that keep you motivated week after week.

4. Punish yourself: I’m not a big fan of negative reinforcement. It might curb bad behavior, but it does so for all the wrong reasons. Keep punishments light. Didn’t meet your goals? I don’t think you should cancel your vacation, but maybe you can skip dessert. Or choose a punishment that promotes your goals. Read a textbook about creative writing or peruse a few articles on good grammar.

5. Hold yourself accountable: If you’re having a hard time meeting your creative writing goals, then set up an accountability system. Take a creative writing class or workshop, join a writing group, hire a writing coach, or partner with a fellow writer and establish weekly check-ins. For some reason, when someone else is holding us accountable, we perform better.

6. Use productivity tools: There are unlimited tools at your disposal to help you stay productive and all of them can be used with your creative writing projects. Put deadlines on your calendar. Hang a whiteboard and track your progress. Keep a journal of your writing sessions. Recording your goals and accomplishments can be extremely motivating.

7. Stay passionate: Do things that keep your creative writing passions burning. Listen to music that inspires you to write. Watch movies and read books that tell stories that motivate you to tell a story of your own. Dance, sing, and make sure you’ve always got your notebook or journal with you because you never know when your next great (or unusual) writing ideas will strike.

It’s All on You

Creative writing doesn’t just happen. You make it happen. Born without drive? Foster determination. Uninspired? Learn some new creativity techniques. Can’t think of anything interesting to write about? Write about your life, your friends and family, your problems, your best moments and your worst. Get a book of creative writing exercises and get busy. And remember, only you can prevent your dreams from coming true.

Keep writing!

Do you have any special techniques you use to keep your creative writing projects alive? Add your tips by leaving a comment.

Adventures in Writing The Complete Collection

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.


18 Responses to “7 Creative Writing Tips for Increasing Productivity”

  1. cmdweb says:

    I think that setting yourself some rules or parameters to work within is vital if you’re going to get anywhere as a writer. For me, it’s my day job that gets in the way (7am to 5pm 5 days a week can seriously cramp your creativity and drive) and my writing ends up being a hobby that I do whenever I get a chance – which isn’t often with three young kids as well.
    The No.1 rule for me would be your first point, show up for work every day – even if it’s just while I’m eating my lunch at my desk!

    • I agree, and it’s actually pretty amazing how much writing you can do if you just set aside 15-20 minutes a day. You could probably write a novel in a year or two at that rate, especially if you think and plan your story while you’re showering, driving, etc. and focus on getting your ideas down during your writing sessions.

  2. Vicky Pino says:

    Well, I do agree with it. One can’t call oneself a writer if one doesn’t write every day, does research and submits work, even knowing that one might get a dreaded rejection slip. But not getting any of these slips shows that we aren’t submitting. We aren’t showing ourselves. If we don’t show up, how are they going to know about us?

    • Well not every writer is trying to get published in the traditional manner, so accumulating rejection slips isn’t for everyone. These days, many are self-publishing. Some may have jobs in writing where submission is not required. And there are those who get away with not writing every single day. If I remember correctly, Elizabeth Gilbert said that she mostly writes when she’s working on a big project. She holes herself up for a few months and cranks it out. It sounded like she doesn’t write much between these big projects. Everyone’s different, but there are some basic best practices that apply to the majority of us, writing every day and submitting regularly included.

  3. bala says:

    This sounds great. We all have the passion to write but we think we have no time to make our passion come true… To get out of this conviction and write for our heart these tips helps to regain the energy and enthusiasm….Great job Mellisa………Hats off !!!!!!!!!!

  4. Nacho Jordi says:

    Another technique I’ve found useful is a bit of role playing. For example, I’m writing a short novel now, and it got a bit stagnated after some chapters, even though I had the structure and the outlining for all of them. I decided to wait until summer and take a “military approach”. Each morning I tell myself: “conquer hill (chapter) no. 23″, and no matter what happens, I get to the end of the first draft, I get the material to work with later. Typically, a few hours and many cups of tea later I tell myself “Sir, the hill has been taken”, and grant myself a good rest. The military metaphor helps me stay focused and for example, not to stop to polish a sentence, because there is still a long road to the end of the hill, and soldiers have no excuses!
    Of course, after the first draft stage, I guess corrections will require a more subtle kind of “hell”. Ah, the beautiful life of a writer… :)

  5. katie says:

    A key strategy to my own productivity is keeping a “pure” space. I found that writing at my studio apartment–the same place where I sleep, eat and watch movies–is near impossible. I had to take myself away from my everyday multi-function kinds of spaces and sanction off somewhere for writing only. Due to lack of apartment space at the time (now I have a one bedroom and a desk that is strictly for morning writing), I used to relocate my writing efforts to a nearby cafe. If you are writing where you like to watch tv, chances are you will want to watch tv. A writing space is a place ONLY for writing, and for me, just being in that space focuses my mind and efforts.
    Thanks for the great article!

    • I know that a lot of writers feel the same way, Katie. Having a designated, special space just for writing can be extremely helpful, especially when you’re trying to stick with a routine. Thanks for adding this!

  6. lesley says:

    When I wrote my first book I found it really easy to get distracted especially since with a day job I only seemed to write when I was tired.

    I solved the problem by getting up earlier in the morning to write and creating a new account on my computer which didn’t have access to my email.

    It was really really quiet at 4 and 5 in the morning and I could write for 2-3 hours each day without any interruptions, before having to set off for the day job.

    • Once, I read an article about how people tend to schedule time for their hobbies at the end of the day or they just leave activities they enjoy for when they have nothing else to do, which means these hobbies don’t get our full energy or attention. The solution that the article proposed was exactly what you’ve done — do it first thing in the morning. In this way, you reward yourself and start your day doing something you love, which helps energize you for all the other tasks you must accomplish, including those you don’t love so much. Good advice!

  7. alli says:

    these tips were so helpfull. i especially like the one that tells you not to go overboard when u need to punish yourself, and i totally agree. if u give yourself to hard of a punishment, you could b pushing yourself a little too hard to get you’re writing done you end up writing nothig that you’ll use in the final draft

    • Thanks Alli. Yes, writers don’t need to be so hard on themselves. If writing is something you love to do, you’ll do it. If someone spends more time punishing himself than actually writing, maybe it’s not what he really wants to be doing.

  8. Karuna says:

    Since Im a school student (11) with so many things to do outside of school like my instruments, hobbies, homework, etc, I don’t have much time for writing.

    But now I have the school holidays and so I make myself write atleast 1000 words and atleast 40 minutes each day. I just remind myself that if I do this for 50 ddays i’ll be able to write a novel (or a novella)

    Thanks your site is really helpful there are so many tips scattered here and there!

    • That’s awesome Karuna! You’re eleven years old and writing 1000 words a day. There are many grown-ups who don’t have that kind of commitment. With that kind of drive, you’re sure to be successful!

  9. brad dickey says:

    It’s a struggle for me. Head trauma resulting in something like Aphasia, and a really bad case of ADD puts me in a rough spot. I can make myself sit down, but my brain fragments and a pipe of clear thought turns into fifty million tangential sub atomic filaments of distressed distraction. This leads to the big OH SH** look in the face and the where was I going exclamation the neighbors hear.

    If I can bring myself to sitting down, and writing anything….. it will jump start the right synaptic pipes and get them in gear.

    I like fantasy for creative writing. There is much less research required, it’s all creative. If you don’t like pink cows tough, “I gottem”. But let’s look at an upcoming scene where the boy, we’ll name him Trope, is telling his mother he has to leave to find a magic poohbah that can make a magicker zitzbimbah that will save the world. I have a great idea of the turmoil in the mother’s head, the way she will react, the dishes she may break etc…. I have the child’s fears, pride, blah blah blah, I can see it all in my head. I sit down to write, and I get lost in the myriad possible ways to present the moment. I can not force myself back on track. I mean physiologically I can’t.

    But, I can drop that, and write about ole Jeb, the huntsman, complete with beard, pipe, and bow, really cheesy corny typical. But I can tell his story about what is going on inside. He can’t hear the conversation. But he’s got a view of parts of the event. I’m going at a totally made up on the spot character, and writing them in, JUST because I can see him clearly at the moment. It gets my brain focused.

    I could have written about a butterfly in their garden, or an earth worm caught in their potted plants in the house, it doesn’t matter. Just pick ANYTHING and go to work.

    When that doesn’t work, I put my head through sheetrock. At least then I get some body to my hair from the chalk and my testosterone feels as if it has contributed for the day.