I’ve been very fortunate to learn some valuable lessons while on my novel journey. First, always be prepared for people to ask to read your (unfinished) work. Second, if they don’t ask to read it, prepare to be asked to write something for them. And, lastly, there will inevitability be days (possibly even weeks) when the writing productivity stalls.
I learned the latter after going for my yearly eye exam… well, more like my five-year eye exam.
Since it had been so long since my last exam, I knew it would be a long visit. Ever the planner, I crafted the perfect schedule the night before to make the most of my day. This included my morning workout, shower, eye exam, afternoon walk/meditation and, of course, writing well into the night. I even brought the latest Writer’s Digest to read in the waiting area. Adulting wasn’t going to stop my productivity… or so I thought.
My exam started off well. I finished the paperwork and was seen in less than fifteen minutes. After some initial poking and prodding, the doctor placed the “blurry drops” in my eyes. “You don’t have any work to do today, right?” she joked as the drops landed on their target. I laughed, thankful that I didn’t blink and thinking nothing of her doctor humor. Unfortunately, that was just the beginning, but I’ll just say I learned my lesson and will make yearly appointments from now on.
Turned out, my entire exam took well over two hours. My parting gifts included a (expensive) glasses prescription, a parking ticket on my car and blurry/light sensitive vision. I hadn’t thought to make arrangements so I had to drive myself home. It took some time but I eventually found my way back, which resulted in the decision to stay home for the day.
Skipping my walk meant I had extra time in my schedule to dedicate to writing. After I turned the computer on, I retreated to the kitchen for a quick lunch before writing. When I returned, the bright glow of the screens quickly reminded me of my eye’s sensitivity. With nothing more to do, I walked to the couch in defeat.
I waited several hours for the effects to subside, and after it did, I had a headache. The day of productivity was wasted but, I realized, it didn’t have to be.
Here are Five Productivity Ideas for those Stalled Writing Days
- Review: On those days when the writing isn’t coming to me, I make the most of my time by reviewing. I look over all of the written chapters and notes to see if everything is still flowing well, or if there is something better. Reviewing (sometimes) motivates me to write or, at the very least, edit.
- Strategize: Most times my lack of productivity stems from not knowing where to go next. In times like this, it helps to have an arsenal of ideas to reference and try out. I plug in different ideas and think about the scenarios. If I find something works well, I make it official by writing it down.
- Walk or Exercise: Getting away from the screen brings out many great ideas. I always carry a pen and notebook with me, even at the gym!
- Learn: Read a book, watch a webinar, read an informative blog (lucashorn.com?). When I’m not writing, I like to read books about writing. Doing this often helps stimulate ideas in my mind and motivates me to get back to writing.
- Anything But Netflix: Whatever you do, resist the urge to binge watch your favorite series.