I was reading the latest issue of The People’s Friend Special when it struck me how many stories were written by one of three writers. These same names crop up in pretty much every issue of The People’s Friend and other women’s magazines. I wondered how on earth they manage to produce so many good stories consistently. So I set myself the target of writing four new stories this month, partly to see if I can increase my productivity this way and partly because I’ve been very lax recently and have written very few new ones. However, I am now faced with how to achieve this. How does one move from writing hardly anything to producing four polished stories in just a few weeks?

I found some clues for increasing productivity on this website. Some of these, such as stop messing about and just write, are commonsense. (I’m assuming the last comment about taking crystal meth was a joke.) This is what I’ve done today (just sat down and written, not taken crystal meth). I’ve gone back to an old story that never sold and have started “killing my darlings”. Parts of the story were simply not working, and for it to be a saleable Womag story, I needed to radically change the protagonist’s personality. It felt good to select the last 2000 words of the story and hit delete. It allows me to stop tinkering at the edges and just rewrite the story as it needs to be if I am to sell it.

picture courtesy of Markus Winkler at Pixabay

Another strategy I shall employ is getting out more because I often get story ideas when I’m out and about from things I see, hear or experience. I shall recycle old stories, too. What do I mean by that? I mean returning to stories that have sold and changing them in some significant way to make a new story. For example, I may tell it from the husband’s point of view instead of the wife’s, or change the setting or time of year but keep the basic framework of the story and the theme.

Another thing I might do is try a daily free write, either by simply setting myself to write for five or ten minutes on the first thing that comes into my head, or by selecting a word or situation from a preselected list. I was given a list of words in May on the National Centre for Writing’s crime writing course that I’m currently taking. I was supposed to choose one word/phrase per day every day for two weeks and write about it. Have I done it? Not consistently, no, and most of the words remain unexplored. For example:

  • a chase
  • a headache
  • the kindest person
  • the biggest mistake
  • after an argument
  • my childhood bed

So, that’s my afternoon sorted out – I could write all day on my childhood bed! Have you got any good ideas for improving your creative writing output? Share them with me here.

PS I was just about to post this when I got an email from drawing my attention to this great free short story competition. That’s another way to boost your output I hadn’t thought of. Just need an idea, now…

One thought on “Productivity

  1. There’s a big difference between full- time womag writers, who earn their living from story sales, and the hobbyists. Paying bills motivates them, but I’d hate to be put under that kind of pressure.
    I find some of the frequently published writer’s output is very rushed, as if it’s being written for the sole purpose of selling to a market.
    When on a production line and churning them out- well, to me, the quality dips, as it’s more about quantity and earning a salary, rather than taking the time to pen a really fabulous tale.
    Some keep an ideas file and draw these out when they start a story. I have one.


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