Give Your Productivity a Boost
By Evan Braun
My favourite part of writing is the first-drafting stage, when I don’t exactly know where my story is going but I nonetheless get to just go with the flow and see where things lead. I don’t write completely without an outline, mind you, because writing without an outline invariably sends me into the weeds. So, I always have a number of concrete story targets, but figuring out how to get there is definitely the fun part.
There are times when I’m enjoying this process so much that I can happily churn out, on average, one thousand words per day. Or more! I even have a spreadsheet that allows me to track exactly how many words I write per day, per week, per month, etc. I love tracking my writing output, because it gives me something specific and measurable that I can point to and be proud of.
But as much fun as it is to track my words when those words are flowing, there are very few things as demoralizing as tracking my words when the words aren’t flowing. In those sad times, that spreadsheet becomes a source of frustration and depression.
That’s where my writing group comes in.
A lot of writers belong to critique groups, and they are hugely effective tools at keeping us honest and helping us to grow as artists. I have belonged to a few different critique groups, all of which helped me enormously. I don’t currently have a critique group, but there’s a one hundred percent chance I will belong to another one at some point in the future. It’s just a matter of time and opportunity.
But for now, I have a writing group, which is a very different sort of arrangement. The group is comprised of a bunch of writers who are all serious about pursuing publication. Some of us are actually published, others are still trying to get their foot in the door, and for the last two years we’ve made the commitment to meet one evening per week at a local restaurant and write. Sure, we run ideas off each other, share advice, catch up on life, and enjoy some great dinners. But mostly we’re there to write.
We arrive, sit down at a table, pry open our laptops (or notebooks, for the handwriting-inclined), and get down to business. Sometimes we fall silent for long periods of time, clacking keys the only sound escaping from our table. Other patrons occasionally give us strange looks, because we no doubt make for a strange sight. Our servers are always asking us what on earth we’re doing.
This writing group has been given my productivity a huge boost during times when I’m not otherwise “feeling the flow.” There’s something about the accountability that comes from writing in a group that really helps me to get a lot done. This same group also meets three or four times a year for weekend write-offs, and I’ve been known to churn out ten thousand words over the course of a few days of uninterrupted creativity time.
If it wasn’t for this, there’s no way I would have finished my last novel or gotten as far as I have in my current one. These friends of mine show up consistently and force me to write solely through the power of peer pressure, and nothing could be more glorious. It ensures that my creative locomotion never stalls for more than a few days at a time.
If you are looking for ways to boost your writing output and have a few other friends in the same boat, I would encourage you to come to a similar arrangement. For me, it’s done wonders both for my writing and my social life.
About this Contributor:
Evan Braun is a full-time author and editor. He has authored three novels, the first of which, The Book of Creation, was shortlisted in two categories at the 2012 Word Awards. He has released two sequels, The City of Darkness (2013) and The Law of Radiance (2015), completing the series. As a professional editor, Braun has seven years of experience working with Word Alive Press authors. He is also a regular contributor at The Fictorians, a popular writing blog.