Art of being prolific #1: Short bursts

Prolific: Fruitful or highly productive

I’d be pressed to name even just a few writers that are known to be highly prolific. But, contrary to stereotypes, it is what a writer does behind the scenes, things you never see that make them prolific. From a novelist churning out two or more novels a year, to a blogger who writes multiple posts a day, and other content writers who type through carpel tunnel to get the next project done. Prolific writers are everywhere, even though we may not know it.

What is considered prolific is different for everyone. One person may consider a 1,000 word blog post everyday as prolific. After all, that would be 365,000 words each year or the equivalent of three good sized adult novels. Yeah, that’s a lot of words. For others, myself included, prolific ranges between 5,000 to 10,000 words a day. After all, this is my career. I write about five to six hours each day, the rest of my time is spent between research, phone calls, administrative work, and interviews. On the odd-day where I am just writing, I could clear 12,000 words. Sounds like a ton and it is, but really, over time it doesn’t feel that way.

So, what do I do to write so much each day? For starters, I rarely work more than eight hours a day. Actually my work day (except for constant text messages) ends around 3:30 PM when the kids are done with school. It starts up at 4:00 AM after a cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal. I’m also going to say, I don’t write as much as others. I have a mix of client novels, non-fiction books, web content, and blog posts I work on each week. That doesn’t even count the 1-2 blog posts, adult novel, non-fiction historical book, and middle-grade books of my own that I try to get in each week.

So, when it comes down to it there are more prolific writers than you can imagine, so the question comes in, “why am I not as prolific?” Well, for starters, you may not need to be. If you have a full time job and write a novel on your time off the reality is you might not even write 500 words a day. That is telling, but not in a bad way. Where 500 is a lot for one 5,000 is a lot for another. The difference between being prolific and not is more in regard to those who do and those who do not. If you do not, then you will not be prolific. If you do – even a little – you will be. Simple, right? How genius! Why hasn’t anyone ever thought of it before.

Jokes aside, this series – The Art of Being Prolific – is all about little tools to take advantage of small parts of your life to help you understand how even just a little can be a lot.

As a writer, the goal for being prolific is to put something on paper everyday. You’ve probably heard the same advice from countless writers. You need to write everyday. Whether it is 100 words or 1,000 words. That is because we all have the innate need to see progress. Without progress, you lose motivation. Without motivation, you stop writing.

 So, with this overly-long description of my series – The Art of Being Prolific – my first tip is all about using short periods of time in your day to keep it going. 

Tip #1: Write in Short Bursts

There are dozens of apps on the market to help you write. The one I use most often is called Penzu, and second on my list is Werdsmith. While these are the two I recommend, there are several you should research. 

Werdsmith

The reason I started using Werdsmith is because I found I was writing a lot for my clients, and nothing for myself. I needed an outlet and a way to express my own writing. I set my goal at 500 words a day with Werdsmith. I also set my reminder for 9:00 p.m., a time when I am heading to bed for the night. After two months of writing, I uploaded what I’d written and found that in that 30 minutes each night I was able to produce over 38,000 words, which is awfully close to completing the 1st draft of a short book. This enables me to write a couple sentences at a time throughout the day – waiting in line, in between TV commercials, and during just otherwise wasted time.

The concept of Werdsmith is to give you the flexibility to write using your smartphone or tablet.  This, of course, provides greater flexibility in how and where you can write. I use my Werdsmith account with my iPhone, but you can also sync it with all of your Apple devices. So, regardless which one you are using, You will always have the most recent copy of your work at your fingertips.

Werdsmith has a reminder feature and a daily word count goal, as well as current word count tracking. This way, while I write through the day, when my reminder comes in = I know it is time for me to finish up to my daily word count goal if I have not already. 

Penzu

Penzu is an online journal that I started using when I just needed to get stuff off my chest, but didn’t want to pester anyone. I was quickly using Penzu as my everyday journal to highlight what’s been going on everyday – the good, the bad, and only what should be released posthumously.

It also did not take me long to realize how nice Penzu’s format is offering both device and PC use and quickly syncing between the two. Penzu has offered me a nice way to use a journal to track ideas, plots, organize my short stories, and write novels. Maybe not what it was meant for but I love it. In a matter of seconds I open my iphone and begin typing away.

The reason that writing in short bursts – however you decide to do it – is that over the course of a day you may not even realize you are writing at all, but before you know it you’ll have tens of thousands of words completed quickly. Think of it this way. If your goal is 500 words a day, that is only about 40 words per hour you’re awake.

Writing in short bursts allows you to whittle away at your writing throughout the day. You don’t need to stretch your brain for hours, or find a writing “safe place” that provides quiet. You can simply take little bursts of time and turn them into your next great book.

Stay tuned for the next Art of Being Prolific tip on using your voice…

Do you want to write your novel, memoirs, or autobiography but need some help? Please contact me to discuss. You can find my rates and types of projects I work on here.

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