Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Positively Productive Writer

A great guest post from writer friend Simon Whaley on how to be, as he says in the title, a positively productive writer.

Twitter is terrible, Facebook is ferocious and Google just gobbles up all of our potential writing time. To be proper writers we have to throw away these distractions and lock ourselves up in some primitive garret somewhere and start squeezing the creative muse from whichever little grey cell it appears to be hiding in.

Actually, no. Twitter, Facebook and Google can be good … if you use them correctly.

As a positively, productive kind of writer, I’m forever setting myself writing goals. I have various projects on the go at any one time: a novel, a non-fiction book, a short story, a couple of articles, and even the odd letter and filler. I do think variety helps to keep me motivated, but so do my goals. Or rather … the rewards I give myself for meeting those goals.

As writers, we tend to look at the bigger picture. We know about goals: to write a novel, to get a book published, to win a prestigious creative writing competition. And they are admirable goals. However, to stay motivated and productive, we don’t just need those whacking great big New-Year-resolution-type goals. We also need smaller goals. Your long-term goal may be to write a novel, but your medium-term goal could be to write the next chapter. Your short-term goal could be to write the first 1,000-words of that chapter.

Meet your short-term goals, and you will achieve your medium-term goals. Meet your medium-term goals and you will achieve your long-term goals. The benefit of having short-term goals is that these are easier to achieve. They are less daunting. Which of the following is psychologically easier to sit down and tackle:

·         Writing a 100,000-word novel
·         Writing the first 1,000-words of a 100,000-word novel?

Breaking our goals down into smaller, more manageable steps is vital to staying positive. And this is where those little nasties like Twitter, Facebook and Google come in. Because, whenever you achieve one of your short-term goals you MUST reward yourself. If you treat yourself every time you reach one of your goals, then when you next come to sit down and tackle your next short-term goal, you’ll remember the pleasure you felt the last time you achieved your goal. Which will help to spur you on.

Rewards need to be appropriate. If you’ve drafted a 1500-word short story, today, then you deserve a short ten-minute break catching up on Twitter or Facebook. Meet a medium-term goal and reward yourself with lunch out with a friend. If you achieve a long-term goal then treat yourself to weekend away, or buy that new toy or gift you’ve hankered after for so long. You deserve it!

So, next time you get an urge to check out Facebook or Twitter, tell yourself that you can only do so when you’ve met your next short-term goal. And then when you do, you can then enjoy your reward. Because rewards will help you to become a positively productive writer.

Good luck!

Twitter: @simonwhaley

The Positively Productive Writer, by Simon Whaley, shows writers how to reject rejection and enjoy positive steps to publication.

ISBN: 9781846948510
UK: £11.99
US: $19.99
Available now on Amazon

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