Writing may be one of the most difficult jobs in the world. No other job is as dangerous or often lethal as writing (to pride at least). Wielding the mighty pen, clashing with paper, defeating just yourself but growing from it, and waking late the next day to do it all again is the blood call of every warrior scribe.
But constant battle ensures exhaustion, sapping the will to write from the best of us at regular intervals. It’s important to have a healthy training regime against the eventuality of “writer’s block”, so I’ve collected below 7 bad tips to keep your writing productive; like, they’re super bad, so bad they’ll rock your world and really change the way you write. Hopefully for the better.
7 Bad Ass Tips on Writing Productively
When you envision your inevitable victory as a writer, are you being handed trophies for having read every book in the next great fantasy series or did you write them? This should be obvious, but writers should be writing, not reading.
Reading is important to children. It helps their weak, tiny, stupid brains grow. When you can’t read, it’s vital to learn how, but it’s also like riding a bike: once you understand, you should get a car and stop playing with kids’ toys.
And consider how much time is wasted while reading. “This person said that and did it like this.” “That guy fell off whatever into her who knows.” Whoooo caaaares, amiright? This is why America loves movies; you can just see what’s happening, who’s doing what and how. If an author must spend time consuming someone else’s content, then TV, film, and video games are far superior methods.
A week of reading can easily be condensed into 90 minutes, with maybe some tits too. Stop burning time reading for more time to write.
Let Noise Be Your Muse
Distraction is the bane of productivity and no one suffers it as easily as the penman. Music tends to qualify as a distraction, but there’s fairly even division between writers for and against listening to music while working. I have the ultimate answer. The solution isn’t to do what works for you, but instead to immerse yourself above the ears in the engulfing warmth of pure unadulterated noise.
Ears gifted us one of our most valuable senses, yet so many are so willing to shun it while writing. Writing is all about taking the world around you, breaking it down, and cooking it into bite-sized bits for the masses. Think of all the morsels you’ll miss due to silence: no traffic noises telling you the mood on the street, no commercials promising the newest bestest thing if you’ll just look for a second, no catchy lyrics to supplant your thoughts.
Without listening to everything, it’s impossible to hear anything important. How does missing out on anything benefit your writing?
Experience So Much Life
Our work demands arduous effort and editing. Anything less than a 2 hour block for writing probably isn’t going to be especially productive. Spending more than a healthy amount of time writing comes with the turf.
But, as mentioned before, that doesn’t mean you should miss out. Experiencing life is how the writer learns how to write and what to write about. Narrow worldviews are not known for astounding readers. So you have to take yourself out into the world and partake in greater existence, live like others do. To spend more time living than writing, you might:
- Never schedule appointments; always walk-in.
- Have long polite conversations about nothing with strangers you’ll never meet again.
- Get drunk with a group!
There are many ways to live life before putting any words down. Just walk away from your tools and find something else to do!
Never Write Inconsequentially
We’re all unique snowflakes with tremendous thoughts and astounding ideas, but as a writer, that’s just a little bit truer of you than most. Since you’re so valuable, spend your time like it is too. As such, you should never write inconsequentially.
What does that mean? Well, it better mean something, that’s for sure. I mean, your writing must mean something every time you write, otherwise it’s not worth your time. Does it come from the depths of the heart? Does it speak to the darkness of the human condition? Could it move a mountain onto a molehill and mess a mole’s day all up?
We don’t publish free-writing exercises in local journals, or short stories from your diary, or even half-finished outlines of quarter-developed movie scripts. If there’s any chance that what you’re going to write isn’t going to be the next best thing ever, then don’t even bother. Wait.
Writers aren’t just good with words, they’re good with people, too. We’re all a little bit psychologists, sociologists, and whatever else we need to be at a moment’s notice; “omnipotent thunder ninjas” you might say. When looking for insight, remember there’s none better than your own.
Now that you’re out more because you’re wasting less time reading, you’ll develop better understanding of what makes others tick. But remember, you’re the writer, not them, those civilians! Should you make a character out of them or that’s like them, don’t bother yourself asking “What would this guy do?” Ask instead “What would I do if I were this guy?”
You’ll get words on the page much faster this way. You are the voice of your characters; let everyone hear your voice, alone.
The beauty of being a writer is that the qualifications are so pure. You only must:
- Write something.
- Say you’re a writer.
As long as you repeatedly say so, no one can deny your self-given title. That means you get all the perks of being a writer whether or not you’ve ever had anything published. You can:
- Correct others’ spelling.
- Interrupt a conversation to recite the one thing you remember from a particularly old book.
- Cruelly judge paid “bloggers”.
Use these skills to ingratiate yourself with better upon better cliques which you then take inspiration from, after the party dies and you finally have time to sit down and write, that is. For real-world experience in how to only act like a writer, visit your local coffee shop and listen (with your laptop open so you fit in).
Inspiration afflicts us all. Few things are done “first” because leading is hard, but very often they are done “better”. If anyone can do “better”, you can too. Also, the expense of developing something new is typically prohibitive. Keep that in mind when developing work to set yourself apart. Ask, “Is this new, or is this too new?”
There’s a reason many of the top-grossing movies every year are sequels, remakes, or reboots. WE LOVE WHAT’S FAMILIAR because everything else is scary. Nostalgia may be the most powerful force on psychology. We can easily relate to anything that we’re already related to.
Take the things you already know are popular and just give them a little personal twist. Was the protagonist a guy? What would it be like if it were a girl? What if instead of discovering a great personal quality inside a temple, it’s found inside a spaceship?
Barely tweaking the formula is fast, ensures everything remains stable, and you’re much less likely to stumble across any surprises. Every zombie flick good or bad is basically the same thing, yet we still devour those brains every year. Try to make a zombie flick that’s too different, like Pontypool or Maggie, and no one can afford a fuck to give. We. Want. Shotguns. All time spent on anything that can’t be racked for affect is wasted.
Thus, your ideas should be different, but not necessarily new. That way your fans will always know how they’re expected to react and feel, and you won’t waste time building too much plot or setting that ultimately just confuses them.
These tips should greatly improve your productivity as a writer. There are further steps to becoming as good as, say, Stephanie Meyer or Dan Brown, but these should help you keep pace from beneath their shadow.
For my next article in this series, we’ll discuss character development and how to determine the bare minimum necessary to sell a script and fuel your burgeoning coke addiction.