Clear Your Head, Improve Your Writing Productivity
Updated: Jul 26, 2019
How do you make your writing time as productive as possible? It’s a question most writers end up asking themselves at one point or another, and the answers tend to deal with setting routines and monitoring how much you write per day. While both of these are true (and necessary) they don’t address another factor that impacts your writing: how “busy” your mind is.
Writing isn’t a task you can simply do with muscle memory. It requires you to actively think and debate things like word choice, sentence structure, overall organization, etc. It’s one of the odd jobs where you can create the perfect conditions to write in (fantastic idea, best possible environment, outline to guide your work), and still struggle to write.
For writers then, actively working to clear your head is just as important as any other step of the writing process. Once you remove some of the mental clutter, it’s easier to find the words you’re looking for, and express what you want to say. How can you do this? There are several ways:
1. Meditate. The benefits of meditating are well acknowledged by the scientific community. They go beyond reducing stress and include increasing focus, attention, and creative thinking. There are so many different types of meditation available from guided meditations and mediation apps, to binural beat meditation music and active meditation that you can easily find a way to meditate that best suits your lifestyle. The benefits may not be apparent overnight, but overtime you’ll find it easier to write.
2. Journal. If you can’t let go of the thoughts that bother you, write them out! Before you try writing for your project, give yourself permission to write about all the frustrations, fears, etc. that are at the front of your mind. Doing so essentially clears out the cobwebs occupying your head and taking up mental energy so you can focus on your project.
3. Exercise. As mentally active as writing is, it requires you to be very physically stagnant. When you write you have to sit (or stand) in place for minutes/hours on end until you’ve finished. This doesn’t bring fresh oxygen to the brain - it just makes it more difficult to think over time. Regularly exercising gives your brain the fuel it needs to function. The exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be effective; just choose something that suits your personality and lifestyle. You can walk, bike, hike, dance, run, swim, practice martial arts, yoga, swim, etc. As long as you’re moving you’re bringing fresh oxygen to the brain.
4. Travel. Writers tend to write in the same place - and for good reason! It creates a routine in an environment that’s conducive to writing. The flip-side of that is that you’re not being exposed to anything new, and new experiences are some of the best ways to clear away old thoughts. Make time in your week to leave your writing abode and explore someplace new whether that’s a nearby city/town or a tourist location. You could even take a day trip to explore somewhere farther away! The change of pace will wake up your brain cells and make it easier to write when you get back.
5. Socialize. When you’re stuck in your own thoughts it always helps to get a different perspective on the idea, event, situation, etc. That new perspective can bring clarity and help you move forward with your writing. If possible, speak to a friend/family member you trust about your writing project and the problems you’re having writing. If that’s not possible, try to find an online writing community you can voice your thoughts/questions in. Most writers are happy to offer ideas and help each other along the journey writing takes you on.
These aren't the only ways you can clear a busy mind, but they are the ones that have helped me the most. How do you keep your head clear as a writer? Do you keep those practices up regularly or implement them as needed? Share your experiences in the comments below so we can learn from one another!
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