I can't tell you how many times I have started a story and not finished it.
Now, I don't expect to finish absolutely everything that I start because ideas fade and change and “better” ones come into play. However, I do think that not making the most out of my writing sessions has been a hindrance to my writing.
So, I've come up with my own little check-list of questions, which if I can answer yes to all, helps me to be a more productive writer.
#1 Am I committed to this piece of writing?
I've come to understand that if I'm not 100% committed to exploring my idea and finishing the piece, then I rarely finish it.
Are you 100% committed to what you're working on at the moment?
#2 Am I in a good writing spot?
I have two favourite writing spots which I find very comfortable and allow me focus solely on my writing. One is a cosy corner in my house where I have my desk and writing clutter. The other is in a café around the corner between 14:00 and 16:00 on the weekdays.
Do you have a favourite writing spot?
#3 Have I minimised distractions?
To really focus, it's good to find a place where you have as few distractions as possible.
My main distraction at home is access to the internet, where one quick search for something leads me into an ‘internet fog' where after 30 minutes I suddenly realise I'm looking at nothing in particular. So I close all my browsers and only have my word document open for my writing session.
Do you make a conscious effort to minimise distractions before you start writing?
#4 Do I know the objective of my writing session?
For me, one key to my productivity is having a clear idea of what I want to achieve by the end of my writing session before I begin e.g. finish chapter three.
Through practice, I now know how long on average specific tasks take me to complete and this helps me to better plan my writing time. For example, it usually takes me 1 hour to get a good first draft of a plot. So this I know I can fit into a short writing session in my local café. Tasks that take me longer to complete probably wont be a good choice for a session in this spot.
#5 Will I need a break?
I know it may seem obvious but taking regular breaks from writing can be really beneficial. For me, intense, marathon writing sessions do not always result in my best work!
How do you get the most out of your writing sessions?
Make a plan for your next writing session.
Make a list of the next few things that you want to work in with your work in progress (e.g. make a plot outline, brainstorm personality traits for your main character, or write chapter three). Then, before you begin, ask yourself the five questions above before you start and see if they help you to focus and get more out of your writing session.
If you'd like to share your plan in the comments section, please do!