Words are hard, mmmkay? — Thoughts about productivity

Lately I’ve been feeling quite productive as far as writing goes. I hit 34k in my current manuscript, I have been submitting short fiction (which means I’ve been writing short fiction), and I squeezed out a poem or two in the last few weeks. What’s my secret, you ask? No secret, really. A graduate program intent on filling my whole life with school things, and the need to make money–they both fuel my obnoxious need to procrastinate. Procrastination often turns into writing, but that’s not necessarily the best route.

This semester, however, many things have been transpiring on the writing front that I can’t completely attribute to the procrastination disease. When the leader of my fiction workshop asked the class to set our writing goals for this semester, on my list was Write more. I’ve always said it and never done it. But so far it’s holding, and there are a couple of things I have to thank for that.

For one, I have been trying to submit more. The simple act of submitting is somewhat of a reward for me–it feels great to finally be able to call myself a “writer,” and getting my work out there is part of that. Beyond that, one of my classmates mentioned that she has herself on more of a concrete reward system: she writes for 15 hours in a week, she buys herself a more expensive bottle of wine. So I tried that too. When I reached 30k in my manuscript, I bought myself some flavored coffee and my if it isn’t fine. Not sure if this system is working yet, but that coffee is good and I have no regrets.

Maybe the thing that has made me the most productive of all is the pact that I made with my good friend. She and I have promised to give each other daily word counts that we must reach–or else shame and other terrible things ensue. And you know what? It’s working. I have cranked out 4k on said manuscript in just the last week–and lemme tell you, that’s saying a lot. I’m a notoriously slow writer. I like to think (and procrastinate) about what I’m putting to the page. Two days ago, I actually sat down and plotted out the rest of the book, which is something I’ve needed to do for over a year now. I’m thinking this buddy-system technique may be working a little better than my coffee trick.

I’m definitely pumped about getting more words on the page. The more I write now, the more I can revise later, and the better chance I have of getting my work into print.

How do you remain productive? Are there specific techniques that you use when you write?

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