How To Have A Productive Writing Day (Especially As A Slow Writer!)

I’m not going to lie: I’m not a very fast writer. I did win 2015 Nanowrimo, and it’s true that I finished the first draft of my book in less than a year, but most days I wrote very little. Now that I’m editing/rewriting my WIP, I average around 500 words a day.

But every now and then, I decide to have a Productive Writer Day™ and write a lot, all at once, until my fingers start to hurt and I question my life decisions. On these days, I generally write 4,000 to 6,000 words.

Why do I do this to myself? I wish I could answer that question. In case you’re as crazy as me, here are some slow-writer verified tips on how to write more in a day.

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Cancel All Plans And Pretend That Other Humans Don’t Exist

This is most important step to have a productive literary day. First of all, I am giving you advice on how to have a concentrated day of writing, and not every day can be like this. In fact, a “cram a lot of words into a couple of hours” day only comes around every two weeks or so for me. A day where I have absolutely no obligations to anyone besides myself. No parties, no school, no work, no pre-planned Netflix binges. Chose this day, circle it in red on your calendar, and, as J.K. Rowling said, “Be ruthless about protecting your writing days.” Let EVERYONE know that you will unavailable that day. Your parents, siblings, children, relatives, friends, coworkers, and more. I find this is easiest as a teenager with no one around her who won’t take no for an answer, but regardless of who you are, be stubborn about preserving your time.

On the actual writing day, continue to ignore everyone. Bake them apology Banana bread later for their patience. It’s a good deal.
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Schedule Breaks

I’m not sure anyone can actually write for 8 hours straight, but personally, I find that  breaks can help keep me refreshed. Here’s what my typical writing schedule looks like:

7:00 – 8:00 = Write!

8:00 – 9:00 = Breakfast & Fun Writing Prompts

9:00 – 1:00 = Write!

1:00 – 3:30 = Reading

3:30 – 4:00 = Blog Post

4:00 – 6:00 = Write!

6:00 – 8:00 = Dinner, instagram, and revisions

8:00 – 9:00 = Write!

9:00 – 10:00 = Journal

As you can see, I break my writing into several large chunks, and I work on my book for approximately eight hours of the day. This gives me enough time to get a large amount of writing down, but also, my hands don’t literally fall off, which is a fun bonus.

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Turn Off the Internet

I know. I say this in every writing post I do. Maybe I just have an internet problem, but while I’m writing, I get the urge to check everything from my Instagram feed to what Dr. Seuss’s real name. (Theodor Geisel, by the way.)

In order to get a lot done in one day, you can’t be taking mini breaks every few minutes to check your email. Minimize all your distractions, and save your pseudonym inquiries for one of the larger breaks you have scheduled for later in the day.

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Write in Public

There is something about the low hum of people talking in coffee shops that’s good for the writing soul. By going out to your local library, park, or coffee shop, you can almost trick your brain into thinking that you’re going to work. There’s no where to slack off when you’re sitting in a restaurant. You’re forced to stay staring at your screen, writing. Also, the caffeine can help with morale. 😉

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Don’t Read In Your Genre

You may have noticed that I put two and a half hours of reading time into my schedule. That’s because I like to remind myself how words work halfway into my day. But I give these words of caution: Don’t read books in your genre on days you plan to be working extensively on your novel.

Any other day in the year, my first piece of writing advice would be to read books that resemble your own. Dissect them. Figure out what makes them tick. But on writing days, avoid them like the plague. Don’t compare yourself against other authors. You don’t have time to feel bad about your words. You’ve got to get writing!

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Create Little Goals

Whether you’re shooting for 2,000 words or 10,000 words, you have to pace yourself. Set little goals. For example, write 300 words by the end of the hour. Finish this chapter before you eat lunch. By splitting up everything you have to do, it’ll be less stressful and overwhelming. You’ve got this!

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Turn Off Your Inner Editor

I should clarify: These writing days are for just that: writing. I wouldn’t recommend trying to edit like this. In fact, I’m pretty sure that there’s no way to edit quickly. Editing makes you rethink everything you’ve written. You have to consider how every word works together, and how every sentence fits in to your book’s overall themes and plot. It’s an immensely slow process.

Which is why you shouldn’t try to edit as you write. Ignore the critic in the back of your head, and just let the words flow. Write without a care. It’s easier to work with a story that isn’t perfect than to work with a story that isn’t written.

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Reward Yourself

And of course, the final step! Make writing days fun. Reward yourself when you’ve reached a goal. Some of my favorite writing rewards are:

  • Food (I’m partial to potatoes and pound cake for writer’s treats)
  • Watching an episode of Project Runway (just make sure one episode doesn’t turn into three)
  • Scrolling obsessively through all that I’ve already written and feeling proud
  • Reading other blog posts!

I hope that this advice can help some of my fellow slow writers reach a higher word count! Please share some of your own tips in the comments below. Until next time, you can find me on Pinterest or Instagram.

vivian-sign-off

28 thoughts on “How To Have A Productive Writing Day (Especially As A Slow Writer!)

  1. bequietkate says:

    This is some really good advice – especially the bit about scheduling writing days! Normally I just squeeze whatever writing I can into my day. Which, I suppose, is why I don’t get as much writing done as I’d like. 😞 Thanks for writing this, will definitely set aside one Saturday to do nothing but write!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sithara says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for this! I actually have to get something done by tomorrow and I haven’t even started writing. In fact I have no idea what to write😱 But thank you for this post. I actually did get inspired to go sit down right now and write! And also thanks for using the Friends gif! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Laidig says:

    100% on that second-last point! Self-editing before the words have even made it out of you is such a flow-killer. My favourite piece of writing advice is that everyone’s first draft is always shit, so just get it out of you and out of the way as quick as possible 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. delphinespublications says:

    This is exactly what I needed today! Thank you for this post! Personally, I’ve been trying to wrap my imagination around some short stories while reading Haruki Murakami which, according to your graceful advice is a BIG (no no)! Lately I’ve been racking my brain trying to come up with something as charismatically clever as pink sheep and talk cats and the comparisons of myself I’ve been making with other novels have driven me deep into a pitfall, but reading your post has helped TREMENDOUSLY! Happy blogging! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Marie says:

    Such great tips, thank you so much for sharing! I’m always trying to have days – more like, evenings, since full days are always too hard to come by – dedicated to writing and it really helps me to have these time scheduled, to put myself into writing mode 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bre Wignall says:

    I feel like I’ve found my new favourite blog — excuse me while I go and binge-read all your other posts (whilst procrastinating writing 😜). I loved all of your tips, and it’s a very nice realistic approach to an extreme day of writing, if those two contradictions even go together hehe 😊 Great work, I can’t wait to see more! 💓

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ben Sandberg says:

    Vivian,

    I’m a new follower and blogger myself! Great advice! I always feel like I need to edit what I wrote the day before, but feel like it’s a sneaky way of procrastinating. How actively are you thinking about plot, character motivation, themes, etc. when you write? I hope that makes sense?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ben Sandberg says:

    Thanks for this! I am a new blogger and have dreams of publication. I find myself always line editing what I wrote the day before, but I think I’m just being a sneaky procrastinator. how do you avoid this?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Rachael Moore says:

    This has got to be one of the best advice posts I’ve seen for writing and I loved this GIFs! 😂
    I’m having to stop myself from editing as I go along (my inner perfectionist coming out! 😂) otherwise it just slows the whole process down for me. Really useful tips, looking forward to reading more! 🙂
    Rachael
    alittlemooresite.wordpress.com

    Liked by 1 person

  10. westonjd says:

    Hey, really great post.

    I have a schedule for my writing every day and typically hit it. I factor in a catch up day at the weekend, so if i mess up and don’t hit my target word count it means I cant go fishing or playing with the other guys.

    I think a break is super important,for me that’s when ideas come to mind. Ill pop to the kitchen to make a sandwich, an idea will hit me and I’ll be screaming to get back and get it down.

    Before I had a schedule, well, it took 6 months to write 40,000 words. ( I had a bit of break). Now I have a schedule, I write 2000 words per day (I still have a day job) and am publishing end of July.

    My schedule is on my Outlook calendar, so wherever I am my phone or my laptop tells me its time to do something. Kinda like a wife…and we all know not to disobey the wife!

    J

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Felix Hinson says:

    This is great advice!! I only started Phosphor 6 months ago, but with the amount of work I’ve done, I might as well have started last week. At one point I was writitng half a chapter a day and things felt like they were going great when I suddenly… stopped. I started revising for my GCSEs, I thought of more characters and almost started a new book. Over the past few days I’ve been forcing myself to write (which is not a good idea in the slightest) until today I, again, started slacking. My biggest concern was, and still is, that I wasn’t writing enough – my longest chapter was just over 1,000 words and all the others were around 700. But after reading your advice, I really should stop rethinking everything too much.

    Liked by 1 person

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