Tricks to make yourself write more

Anybody who is passingly familiar with my writing is aware that my update speed is slower than the moon's orbit around Earth. I'm currently trying to beat that and wondering if people have actual "tricks" they use to make themselves write. Anybody who writes "just do it" will be pointedly ignored.

One of the things I do is have days where I set a rule that I'm not allowed to go to sleep until the next chapter is posted. Needless to say, I end up going to sleep between 5-6am with a hilarious chapter that is the product of a sleep-drunk mind, but this technique is not suitable for days when I need to get up in the morning, which is six out of seven days of the week.

The other thing I found helpful is to write tiny amounts between being constantly interrupted. I had a volunteer job a while back at a help desk, and jotting down a sentence or two between visitors for four hours a week ended up giving me the fastest update speed I've ever had. I no longer hold that post and it's not easy to just find a task where you can be constantly interrupted whenever you want to write.

The third thing I found helps is to do something incredibly frustrating. A while back, I was playing an exceedingly simple game on the computer that kept lagging even though my computer had more than enough processing power to run it, and it was a puzzle game that timed me through the lag and screwed up my score. Rage 10/10. I ended up putting my notebook next to my laptop and writing whenever it lagged, and sentences flowed (not even angry sentences). Fortunately or unfortunately, that game stopped lagging, so my rage levels have dropped along with my writing productivity.

Any tricks others would like to share or anybody find my tricks worked for them?

Have you tried doing an egg timer write? It is a really simple solution and has worked wonders for me! All you need is an egg timer, and 45 minutes a day. The idea is that you have to commit to writing for at least 45 minutes a day before you can do anything "fun" with your time. Because 45 minutes is less than an hour it feels like it is easier to fit into your day than say an hour, and can be squeezed into your morning routine or right before you go to bed. By the end of the week you should have put in about five and a half hours of writing which can be pretty hefty if added to whatever other writing habits you have.

I hope that helps!

Haha, that brings back old memories of piano practice. My parents started me off at 30 minutes a day and increased it by five minutes a year. I'll see if I can manage it for writing, thanks!

Try Write or Die. It's a variation on the egg timer idea and it's directly geared toward writing. I found it even helped me write papers in grad school (first drafts, of course). It's definitely the sledgehammer approach and you can't edit with it, but that's the point.


That's awesome that you have some sort of history with it, hopefully it means an easy transition? I like the idea of adding time to it gradually, maybe I'll try to add five minutes every month...


I have heard of Write or Die, how long have you been doing it for?

I heard a lot of good things about 4thewords, a browser roleplaying (I think?) game that rewards you with ingame mechanics for writing.

@revfitz Hmmm. Probably since around 2007 when I first did Nanowrimo or maybe a little earlier. Not sure.

To be honest, with the way I write, it doesn't so much as force me to write but it helps me overcome the ever-present drone in my head of "this is stupid." That right there is a huge boon when writing papers because getting your ideas down is 90% of the work. In practice, it's like the egg timer but it's then it's sub-divided into a gazillion little egg timers to make sure you don't stare at the wall for 10 minutes inside of the 45 minutes of but-in-the-chair.

And as we all know, even though the inner editor says "this is stupid" it sometimes isn't. As I said, it's a first-drafting tool.

Hehe 4thewords looks really fun. I do so enjoy levelling up.

Write or Die is pretty much the complete antithesis to how I write. I constantly go back and fiddle with wording while I write because wordplay is a very large part of my main project. I take a more holistic approach to writing than I think most people do. If something is really rough, I'll delete the whole passage and rewrite it rather than edit because the work ends up feeling more coherent that way.

@unice I totally feel you. Everyone has their way. I tend to lead with dialog and having a flow where you don't go back helps get that draft out - but that's me. I'm also not shy about using the trash can as an integral part of the editing process, but it tends to get entire stories or big fat chunks. All I know is that if I didn't have a line between writing and editing I'd drive myself mad. Good luck up-ing the production.

Forewarning: I've heard this method is SUPER frustrating for some writers.

I've found it very helpful to train myself to separate the "writer" and "editor" parts of my brain. When I get stuck, or when I am reluctant to write, it's usually because I'm trying to force out perfect (or even high-quality) writing, even though I know full well that I'm going to be doing several editing passes before anyone sees it.

To combat that, I start a new section (so that I know exactly where to come back to) and just start moving my fingers across the keyboard. The point isn't even to write coherently, just to write something. At first it results in sentences like "Elena went down to the grey thingy and said something stupid about the gem. Fred corrected her, and she felt embarrassed, but appreciated his help", but I'm often very surprised at how quickly it shifts into my typical writing quality.

On a good day, the simple act of writing lets me go from "stuck staring at my screen" to "continuing on writing as if I hadn't gotten stuck at all" within a few paragraphs. Even when I'm forced to trash those paragraphs entirely, it's almost always a net gain.

Hehe, I don't really get stuck. Usually, I know what's going to happen next, and then my brain gets bored and decides that there's no point to writing it down because it already had the fun of imagining the adventure. My problem is more along the lines of having the creative energy and discipline to get 'er done. That being said, I only have one "edit" in transferring it from my notebook to the computer, and that's really all I need.