Shhh! Here’s the Secret to Prolific Writing

WhispersPlease welcome guest poster Jessica Baverstock to the blog this morning and read her wise words on getting a lot of writing done.

by Jessica Baverstock

 I'm sure just about all of us have witnessed the Tortured Writer Syndrome. Perhaps we've even experienced it personally.

The syndrome begins with a bit of writer's block, some rubbish first draft material, a savage critique or just some good ol' white page fright.

It then grows into the expectation that writing is a difficult, thankless task that requires many hours of hard work with inevitable disappointment at the end.

Eventually this syndrome can even turn the best of writers into a martyr to their craft as they face weeks, months or even years of frustration, without ever feeling the wonder, excitement and exhilaration of what it truly means to be a writer.

Where Does It All Go Wrong?

The process starts getting all twisted when we do too much thinking and not enough actual writing.

Instead of starting our day with a freewrite to get the words flowing (and get the rusty first 300 or so out of our system before we get down to business), we worry about what we're going to produce today.

We start wondering: What am I going to write about? Will it be any good? Do I have anything worth writing about? Will anyone want to read what I'm writing anyway? Within three or four sentences we've completely lost our motivation, stopping up our natural flow with so much negativity that it takes a phenomenal effort every day to overcome it.

Then comes the inevitable writer's block and other woes of the writing life which become self-fulfilling prophecies. If you believe writing is hard, then it most certainly will become so. Words have power, especially the ones we use on ourselves.

So many writers are in this rut, that they are in the majority – posting, tweeting and talking about their difficulties – when the writers who are prolifically enjoying their writing life are too busy writing to respond.

How do I know?

I'm one of those prolific writers. When my words are in full flow, it's easy to write over 1,500 high-quality words in an hour. I sit down to my computer each morning with a relaxed but expectant attitude.

I feel like Sharon O'Brien who said, "Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning: I wanted to know what I was going to say."

So what's the secret?

How Can You Loosen Yourself Up and Making Writing Fun Again?

Here are a few points to get you back on the road to an enjoyable writing life.

• Get the bilge out early. Start your day with a journal entry or a freewrite. If you're in any way nervous about what you're going to write, then set 15 minutes on a timer and pour your thoughts onto the page. Once you've got them out of your head, you'll be amazed at how much lighter and more confident you feel.

• Lower your expectations. You don't have to sit down at your computer and write a best-selling novel. Start writing something true – about yourself, or about life in general – and keep writing that truth until it turns into a narrative and that narrative finds a protagonist and then that protagonist goes on a journey. Allow the words to flow wherever they want to go. When you're finished, then go back and decide what to do with the end result.

• Enjoy the process. Putting words onto the page should be a cathartic experience. It's best done regularly, daily if possible, so that the words literally flow out of you. At the end of your writing day, look for one thing you especially liked about what you wrote, even if it was just a sentence or a word. Carry that positive feeling with you through to your next writing session.

• Ask for help. So many writers struggle with certain aspects of their writing. Don't let this hold you up. Get yourself a writing coach, a creativity coach, an editor or even just a good book on the subject. Invest in yourself. Show yourself that your writing is worth the extra time and effort. An outside perspective will usually pick up on where your problem lies – and you'll often be surprised at how easy the fix is.

• View your writing life as a journey. You're never going to know it all. Even the most experienced writers are still learning and honing their craft. Rather than looking at writing as something you will be graded on, view it as the narrative of your life. As you grow and change so will your writing. Get your story written now so the next story can appear and surprise you.

What about you? How do you keep your writing relaxed and fun? I'd love to read your comments!

Jessica_0551_cropped_sml (1)Jessica Baverstock blogs at Creativity's Workshop where her Creativity writes in purple text. She offers creative coaching for writers. You can read her latest book De-Stress Your Writing Life for free as she blogs it over the coming months.

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11 Responses to Shhh! Here’s the Secret to Prolific Writing

  1. Don Williams 01/25/2014 at 05:36 #

    This post has really hit a nerve; it was like you were writing about lil old me! Great points, and all I will say about, “The process starts getting all twisted when we do too much thinking and not enough actual writing.” is BINGO!

  2. Jessica Baverstock 01/25/2014 at 15:54 #

    Hi Don,

    I’m so pleased you found it helpful! 😀

    It’s like we have ‘writing muscles’ that get stronger the more we use them. While there is, of course, some thought involved in our writing, if we think too much we’ll never actually get the words out there.

    I wish you much success with your writing. 😉


  3. Zan Marie 01/26/2014 at 07:02 #

    Thanks, Jessica! We all need to revisit our reason for writing–the actual love of the story and just letting it flow. Leave that angst behind.

  4. Charlotte Dixon 01/26/2014 at 07:31 #

    Zan Marie, it is so important to stay in touch with our love of writing, and so easy to forget that's why we do it. 

  5. Robyn LaRue 01/26/2014 at 13:14 #

    The trick for me is to put blinders on. Don’t think about what others thing, don’t think too much about the process or the story, don’t think about what might happen to the story once written. Just sit down and write, and trust that the well inside has filled up since the last writing session. Words flow. :)

  6. Charlotte Dixon 01/26/2014 at 13:44 #

    Could you point me to a place where they sell those blinders?  Heeheehee.  Actually, it's not a bad idea for a product to sell to writers….

  7. Jessica Baverstock 01/26/2014 at 16:23 #

    Hi Zan Marie,

    You’re so right. Love of the story should be a motivating force for our writing. Once we get deep into the life of our characters and the world we’ve created, it’s amazing how the words can flow!

  8. Jessica Baverstock 01/26/2014 at 16:26 #


    I love what you’re describing! Thinking about all those other elements divides up the focus needed to write. It’s like trying to write while in a crowded room where everyone wants to talk to you!

    It’s sounds like you’ve got a great creative routine that keeps your creative well filled. :)

  9. Jessica Baverstock 01/26/2014 at 16:27 #

    They should sell them in a pack with a bonus bottle of Bum Glue. Then we’d have everything we need!

  10. J.D. 01/28/2014 at 04:24 #

    Good stuff, Jessica.

  11. Jessica Baverstock 01/28/2014 at 16:37 #

    Thanks, J.D. :)

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