Effective to do list planning, to really boost productivity

Having a list of goals can be a great way to make us as productive as possible. But like everything else in life, if we overdo it, we run the risk of ending up with nothing to show for our shiny list of goals. In fact, a list of goals should be as laser-focused as short. For example, if we want to increase our writing output, it’s doubtful at best the usefulness of adding to our list something like running 40 miles a week. Sure, running is a great way to keep in shape and in good health, and a…

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The craft of writing – my top picks

I’m on vacation in Spain. Near Cartagena, to be precise. The weather is fine, and the sea pleasantly refreshing. A couple of hours ago I finished lunch. I had gazpacho, fried cheese, bread, salad, and lomo. I concluded my meal with a couple of ripe and tasty plums. And washed everything with genereous amounts of sangria. Then I wrote a short story. It is more or less 900 words long. And I think I’m going to post it sometime during the next week. You know, I need to let it rest a bit, to clean it adequately. Instead, today I’m…

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Daily word quota revisited – be stubborn about your goals and flexible about your methods

Setting up a daily word quota you have to hit can be an effective way to beat procrastination and improve your productivity–of course, provided you’re not like Douglas Adams, who is often quoted saying, I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by. Famous quotes apart, some time ago I wrote about procrastination, and I must say I considered my daily word count the most important metric for productivity. However, lately I’ve been examining a bit more deeply my writing habits and I discovered that a fixed daily quota can be ultimately of detriment to…

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Multitasking and monotasking – the essential difference

These days it seems you need to be multitasking away all the time if you are to truly consider yourself a citizen of the 21st century. Unfortunately, multitasking is the perfect way to carry out innumerable tasks at the same time with mediocre results at best. If what you’re trying to accomplish is something mundane or whose results are ultimately of small import, maybe multitasking can save you some time–maybe. But if you’re working at something that requires a lot of attention, multitasking is the best recipe to come up with sloppy results. Multitasking is also bad for your IQ and,…

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How to create awesome character names

I already wrote another post on character names. But I felt it wasn’t as complete as it could have been. So here is a sort of part two. Some authors don’t even start writing if they don’t know the name of their characters. Others write a full first draft or even more using working names. Then they finally come up with a name that is the natural result of their staying with the story for such a long time. The name reveals itself, we could say. Now, probably names aren’t among the most important aspects of a great novel–but many great…

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20 signs you are a writer

Maybe it’s Neil Gaiman’s statement that particularly resonates with you–“As far as I’m concerned, the entire reason for becoming a writer is not having to get up in the morning.” Or maybe you feel more in line with Dorothy Parker’s take–“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” In any case, shedding light on your desire to become a writer and what you’re actually doing to…

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Use gamification to increase your daily word count

Some years ago, after I repeatedly found myself still playing at five o’clock in the morning, I had to wipe Skirim off my hard drive. And when the deinstallation program asked me if I wanted to keep my saved games I immediately clicked no. To prevent second thoughts from taking shape into my mind and persuade me the saved games were just harmless files. That I could keep them and be safe nonetheless. To this day, the same happens whenever I play chess. The game is so complex and compelling, and I find it so intriguing, I can’t just play…

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Original horror story prompts

In a previous post–Seeds of creativity–I said ideas are never a big problem for writers and creative people in general. But given that each one of us is unique in her way of thinking and looking at the world, in her way of understanding how things work, and in pretty much everything else, from time to time this uniqueness can also feel a bit suffocating. In fact, we tend to come up with ideas that feel like Xeroxed copies of previous ones we already wrote about. For example, if you are someone who feels strongly about hierarchies and power in corporate America…

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How handwriting can boost your creative productivity

When it comes to creative writing, deep down we all know that if literature giants like Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels),  Homer (Iliad, Odyssey), and Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote), wrote their masterpieces when electricity was still in the realm of science fiction, then there are no excuses for not being able to write just because our PCs aren’t perfectly up to date. In fact, a sheet of paper and a pencil. That’s all it takes to write. I mean, from a purely technical point of view. But time does fly, and times do change. As a result what was usual in the…

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