How to Write More

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, reined 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.


22 Responses to “How to Write More”

  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 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.

    • I once read an article about how people tend to schedule time for their hobbies at the end of the day or they leave activities they enjoy for when they have nothing else to do, which means these hobbies don’t get their 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 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.

  10. Ravindra Rao says:

    The article is very interesting. With some discipline, one should be able to benefit from the suggestions.

    May I point out a minor spelling mistake?

    ‘Many successful authors have harnessed creativity, reigned it in, and turned it into a full-time profession. So we know it can be done.’

    We need the word ‘reined’ instead of ‘reigned’.

  11. YoungAspiringAuthor says:

    This helped a lot, I’m still in school like one of the other users, (I’m 14) and I’ve dreamed of writing for such a long time…But, like ANOTHER user, (ha, interesting how universal some of these struggles are..) I have REALLY bad ADD/ADHD, and because of circumstances at present, I can’t really get the right treatment and writing has been a nightmare. I’ve hopped from one “calling” to another, including drawing, programming, etc., but I always come back to writing. I find it easier to commit to writing than anything else. Even though I’m usually not very good at accepting or even mentioning compliments I get, everyone I show my writing to says it’s amazing…Which makes me embarrassed. but hopeful. Yesterday, my old English teacher from last year (that I have the amazing privilege to still talk to on a regular basis) said “You are one of the best writers I’ve ever seen,” which made me squirm, but also made me think, that maybe I can do this. The thing is, I never really manage to be consistent. None of my stories have made it out of the development stage, and the farthest I’ve gone into a manuscript was like 4 chapters, but they were REALLY short. I try so hard to keep myself focused, but I can’t manage to with chores, school, and the distractions around me. Unfortunately, I don’t have the option of having a “Writing Den”, which just ends up being my binder itself. I read article after article, advice videos, and even though I feel pumped afterwards, some other thing yanks me away. It’s usually something I can’t put off, either, like chores, or something else my parents want me to do right there and then. I’m going into Honors English next year in my freshman year, and I’m a bit nervous because we have a project to do over the summer and it’s due the first day of school! I sort of have trouble with completing any sort of task… I can’t seem to stick to one thing for long. Everyone in my life who’s seen my writing tells me it’s amazing, but I still wonder if maybe I just don’t have what it takes to be a writer. Honestly, I can’t explain exactly why I write, which makes me think I’m writing for the wrong reasons. I can’t really picture my future beyond my teenage years at all really, but I can’t picture myself doing anything but writing. I guess I’m a little too defiant to take orders for a living, haha. I can’t see myself working in fast-food, because I don’t really like cooking for two people the rare times I have to, so I wouldn’t survive serving hundreds five days a week. I know I can’t work in a clothing store, and I know this because I volunteered at one once, and hated every second, so yeah, that’ s a no-go. I guess I don’t like taking orders from people, but it’s fine as long as they aren’t rude, act like you’re below them, or are ungrateful. Point is, I can’t think of anything to do with my life but write. I can’t seem to complete any sort of project whatsoever, and it kills me. I really admire your advice, and the special effort that you make to send a personalized and sincere reply to each and every comment. I really do want to manage my time better and actually have something to show for the blood, sweat, and tears I put into trying to write. I’ve heard the advice about just getting the first draft done as fast as possible and revising later so much, but I can’t seem to just leave it be. I end up spending twenty minutes writing, erasing, then writing a sentence again. It feels nearly impossible to just leave my past sentences the way they are until I finish the first draft. I always get the drive, and the ideas in my head, but getting them on the paper just how I want them is near impossible. My friends and teachers swear that writing is going to take me somewhere someday, and as much as it flatters me, I get so frustrated with myself for my lack of follow-through. I’ve heard so many writers say “bad writers have nothing to say”, and I wonder to myself sometimes if I’m bad because I have nothing to say… But I KNOW I have PLENTY to say, my dad and brother call me the “one-man protection group.” There is so much I want to stand up and shout about to the world, but I just can’t figure out how to go about it… I’m so very sorry that I ramble on so much…. I type like I’m actually speaking in stuff like this, so you don’t even wanna KNOW how much I deleted LOL. I always seem to have great ideas, but then I just end up throwing them to the wayside, and I can’t seem to climb out of this hole of unproductivity . I can’t really put my life on a schedule, and I never seem to have enough time to really get some good writing time in. I feel like I spend to much time gathering up articles, name research and things just to stall out the disappointment of realizing I have no idea how I’m going to get this on the page. I can tell that you are probably in a successful writing career, and even though I’ve been told my whole life not to care so much what others think: Do you think I could really be a writer? I think I can at times, but at other times, I feel like pounding at the floor in frustration. I have no idea how I’m going to do this, but like I said, it doesn’t really seem like a choice- I HAVE to be a writer, I just HAVE to be. I can’t fathom a world where I don’t write. I also don’t quite know, being my age, how I can reward myself for achievements or “punish myself” a little for failures. Also, I’ve been called an old soul my whole life, and I usually write about older characters, usually within the age range of late teens, and early to mid-twenty’s (When the story begins). So, when I try to “get to know” my characters and imagine what they would be doing where I am, it’s a bit hard, some of them being like 18 or 23 years old, I can’t really see them hanging around at a Junior High School…. Again, I’m SO sorry for wasting your time with my terribly long comment… Thank you so much for reading this and making excellent content, and supporting aspiring writers! Any advice you could give me would mean the world. I have no idea what I’m doing here, and it looks like you’ve got it down. 🙂

    • It takes time and discipline to build a career as a writer. You might try looking into techniques for productivity and self-discipline. Try setting goals (like finishing a project) and forcing yourself to finish what you start. Most writers face these struggles, and those to overcome them have a better chance at success. Good luck to you!