Friday 22 February 2013

Nina Post on Productivity for Writers

Story Time: I met Nina Post during a Twitter Chat hosted by Curiosity Quills. And I was immediately blown away by her focus and output of writing so I asked her to stop by and share some of her secrets.

From her Website:
Nina Post is a fiction writer who lives in
Seattle. She is the author of DANGER IN CAT WORLD, THE LAST CONDO


How to Create Your Own Productivity Benchmarks

Madame Writer of Wrongs was kind enough to invite me to write a guest post about how I stay focused and productive with my writing. During 2012, I wrote five novels and had three published. Here in 2013, I'm about to complete my second novel so far this year, before the end of February. Several people have called me "prolific," but I think high output is more a factor of consistency. So, I hope I can provide a tip or two that will help you be more productive in your writing.

Tip #1: Set targets based on past performance
Look at your average output and your output during your most productive writing stretches, then set your targets somewhere in between -- maybe 75-80% of your highest consistent output. I make my schedule for six days a week, and don't schedule Sunday (for built-in flexibility). My word count target is a sweet spot because a) it's easily achievable and doesn't make me feel harried, b) I know exactly when I'll have the draft finished, and c) since I aim higher, I can come out ahead of schedule, which allows me to under-promise and over-deliver.

Tip #2: Realize that some projects may be different

When you're trying something new, or you have a more intricate plot, expect that you may have slightly lower output. With the targets I set, I know that the output level is achievable regardless of the type of project. But it's also fine if you need to set a different target for a specific project, e.g. if you'll be doing a lot of research prior to drafting each major section of the book.

Tip #3: Budget time for your secondary projects

Whenever I'm working on a novel, I'm also waiting to get manuscripts from earlier novels back from the editor or proofreader. At that point, I need to spend time going through the edits. Depending on how much time I put in, this may mean exceeding my target a few days that week or working on Sunday. Regardless of the method you choose, be sure to budget at least some portion of your schedule for those secondary projects so they don't blindside your primary ones.

Tip #4: Keep track of your tasks and goals

The most valuable tip I got from David Allen's GTD methodology is the 'Waiting For' list. This is a stand-alone list separate from your 'To-Do' list. I keep a list called 'Upcoming,' a list called 'Waiting For,' as well as a list for each month. As an example, in March, if I'm waiting for edits, I don't put that in 'March' or 'Upcoming.' I put it in 'Waiting For.' This is basically a catch-all list of things you can't do just yet, since you're waiting for someone else to take some action or get you a deliverable in order to move forward with the next steps. David Allen also recommends keeping a 'Someday/Maybe' list -- I don't call mine that, but it's where you can put your ideas for future projects. Restrict yourself to a log line or short paragraph for each, then return to your main project. As any fan of lists would tell you, your life is a lot easier if you keep all your To-Do items, future projects, etc, in the same place so your mind doesn't keep cycling through them.

Tip #5: See it through

Eliminate distraction and finish your primary project. A lot of people have trouble staying focused when they think of something else they want to do, or when they don't restrict their use of social media. Try to resist those impulses, and put anything you may want to revisit later on an appropriate list above.

New releases

Danger in Cat World
On the verge of losing himself in his work, a homicide detective investigates the murder of a reclusive heiress, but when he discovers a window to another universe and dozens of cats begin appearing out of thin air, he must embrace the unknown to solve the case.

Extra Credit Epidemic
Release date: April/May
When a brilliant yet reclusive high school student uncovers a small cluster of foodborne infections, she teams up with a former state epidemiologist turned science teacher to investigate, but as the cases start to multiply, she realizes that she’ll need more than just her sharp intellect to find the source of the outbreak.

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