Writing Productivity Tips

Hi, folks.

I wanted to make another “writing tips” post, because we’ve been doing a whole string of scam posts. Victoria has been great, keeping up with the blog. I’ve been so busy lately, writing, working on two book projects (one is a proposal with a collaborator, that I’ll be finishing up today) and of course Winds of Vengeance, the sequel to Storms of Destiny. I’m taking my notebook computer with me on vacation so I’ll be able to work while I’m gone, so as to not lose my momentum.

Which brings me to my first “writing productivity” tip:

1. Don’t lose your momentum! Write something every day, if at all possible, even if it’s only half a page. Doing that will keep your mind “on track” with your writing project.

I can’t over-stress how important this is. Even if you go away on vacation, bring your most recent chapters or your current short story, and hand-edit and write a few paragraphs in your notebook, just doing a little every day. Your story will thank you, because you’ll be able to return to it full-time with your brain still “in the writing groove.”

2. NEVER end your writing for the day by completing a scene or a chapter. Nothing’s worse than facing a blank screen the next day! When I finish my day’s writing, and it happens to be the end of a chapter, or the conclusion of a scene, I ALWAYS make a scene transition sign (***) and then start in on the next section I’ve outlined. I can then block move what I’ve written into the proper chapter as soon as I’ve set it up.

I make sure I write at least one page into the next chapter or the next scene, so it’s set up and I know exactly where I’m going the next day when I start.

3. When you’re feeling unsure about what to do next, RE-READ and EDIT. I do this to get my mind back in the groove. I’ll have to do it anyhow, so I just do it at that time. By the time I’ve re-read and edited a chapter, my train of thought has crystallized in my mind, and my path is clear. Usually.

4. Dealing with “block.” Someone once told me this tip, and I can’t for the life of me remember who. If you are really blocked — you haven’t been able to write for days or weeks or months and your train of thought is totally derailed, etc., try this: print out the last five pages of your story. Then delete those pages off your computer. Then, type them in again, polishing and editing as you go along.

By the time you get back to the end of the five pages, your mind ought to be working on your story again!

5. Review your synopsis. I always write a very detailed one. This suggestion doesn’t work for every writer. Not everyone can work from a story outline/synopsis. But for those who can, reviewing the next section of what you have to write can help tremendously.

6. If all else fails, and you just can’t write in your normal place try going ELSEWHERE to write. Take a laptop to a cafe, or outside, if the weather is nice. If you don’t have a laptop, try writing by hand in a notebook, then transcribing into your computer. Sometimes this will work when nothing else does, to get your creative flow going again.

(It recently worked for a good friend of mine. I got to be a hero for suggesting this!)

So, okay…there are the tips I tell my students. They often ask me what schedule I use, how much I write every day, etc. I suppose they are hoping they could exactly copy what I do. This probably won’t work. I tend to be a very slow starter, who goes faster and faster as I get closer to the end of a project. By the end of a project, I’m cranking out ten pages a day, or more, often.

But at the beginning, I’m often lucky to write a page or two. Then I have a long period where I just write four or five pages a day, for many, many weeks. (Especially when working on this Exiles of Boq’urain trilogy, since these the books are very long…at least for me.)

So I rather doubt my working habits would be of any help to anyone. I’m kind of quixotic, I suspect.

Okay, before I go, a couple of things. First, I must apologize to you, and to Victoria, for being so scarce here in the blog. My campaign against Robert Fletcher is taking up a lot of my Writer Beware time, and generally, it’s sucked up the time I’d usually give to making blog posts. I owe Victoria a lot for keeping up this blog.

So…if you have been scammed by Robert Fletcher or any of his scuzzy “literary agencies” (Childrens Literary Agency, Christian Literary Agency, Poet’s Literary Agency, The Screenplay Agency, Literary Agency Group, Stylus Literary Agency, S.T., or New York Literary Agency)*, PLEASE consider making an official complaint. If people don’t complain, Robert Fletcher will just go on and on, scamming more writers. Write to me, and I’ll tell you exactly what do do: anncrispin@aol.com

Secondly, I’m about to go on vacation for most of the month of August. I’ll try to check my email, but it will sporadic. I’ll be gone for most of August, then back only a few days before Dragoncon, so then I’ll be gone for another five days.

Thirdly: if you are an aspiring writer, and you’re going to Dragoncon, I still have the “scholarship” slot open in my Basic Writer’s Workshop. Writers, you could take the two-day workshop, which runs Thursday August 31st and Friday, September 1st, from 9-5, for FREE. I’m looking for someone who would love to attend, but basically can’t afford the $135.00 fee to Dragoncon. You’d still need to have your Dragoncon membership to attend the workshop on Friday, but it is possible to buy a one day workshop ticket to the convention. The website for Dragoncon, where you can read a syllabus for the workshop, is www.dragoncon.org

This chance is being offered on a first-come, first served basis. You can write to me at: anncrispin@aol.com to inquire about availability.

If the slot is filled, I’ll try to get back in here and make a short post to that effect.

(Usually, the head of the Dragoncon Writer’s Track nominates a worthy aspiring writer for this scholarshop, which I offer every year. This year, however, she didn’t have a candidate. So I’m making the offer here.)

Okay, I guess that’s all for today. I hope all of you will stay well (and cool!) and keep writing. Enjoy August!

-Ann C. Crispin

*Remember, some agencies with similar names may be legitimate. Scammers do this deliberately to create name recognition confusion.


  1. Thanks so much for the productity tips. Your advice has been very helpful to me; a fantasy romance project I’ve been working on has been going slow over the course of this year because I’d always stop writing when a scene ended and wound up staring at a blank screen the next day thinking of what to write next. Following your advice, I’ve been able to get this book back on track and I’m about two to three chapters from completing.

  2. I read somewhere that Ernest Hemingway (I think it was Hemingway) would end his writing sessions in the middle of a sentence. I always thought that was kind of cool and it’s something I try to do with my own writing. It’s always helped me keep the train moving on the (mostly) right track!

  3. Thanks for the productivity tips, especially the “retype the last 5 pages” tip; that sounds like the kind of thing that would work for me.

    Also, I enjoyed Storms of Destiny a lot; I’m looking forward to Winds of Vengeance! 🙂

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