Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Work smarter not harder: engage your subconscious

Here are three simple ways to increase your writing output without giving up sleep.  It’s a lot easier than you’d think and not nearly as painful.

Write every day.  WWe’ve all heard this one before and it’s difficult to find writing time around your commitments but we’re not talking about finding more time to write each week, just scheduling your time a little differently. If the most you can manage on your busiest day is ten minutes or a hundred words that’s far better for keeping your subconscious engaged than having seven days between an eight hour writing slog.

Writing each day keeps the story fresh in your mind and allows your subconscious to continue working on it even when you’re not. You’ll be surprised by how easily solutions to plot holes pop into your head during the day and this means that the precious time you spend writing isn’t wasted on agonizing over other things. Just make sure you keep a pen and paper with you to jolt down ideas on the go because they can disappear as quickly as they come.

Write while you sleep.  Yes, you can literally “sleep on it” by guiding your mind to work on writing problems while you rest. The hypnagogic state occurs between wakefulness and sleep. Some writers take power naps and focus on a problem with their WIP as they drift off. This is when the ideas come. James Scott Bell also recommends using the dream state to assist with writing. He suggests writing down any questions you may have regarding your WIP right before you go to sleep. Then before you do anything else in the morning write down as many answers as you can to those questions.

Repetitive Activity.  You can also engage your subconscious by taking a drive, exercising, concentrating on something else such as paying the bills or through repetitive activity such as knitting. Doing the ironing could be just what you need to turn your MS into a blockbuster.  The ironing's looking pretty good right now, isn't it?

Happy writing!


Jackie Ashenden said...

Great advice, Lacey. Will try that dream thingy! Got to be better than thinking around and around in circles!

Suzanne Jones said...

This is great advice, Lacey. Thank you.


Julia Broadbooks said...

I find walking to be very helpful when I get stuck. I started going for walks when I got frustrated to get away from the story. And I did at first. After a while of letting my mind drift, the right answer would just sort of come to me as walked. Not always, but often enough to motivate me to walk more.

Nicole said...

I love the idea that you can "work" while you sleep! Very interesting.

Nas Dean said...

Hi Lacey,

Great post. I'm going to tweet this as this is what every aspiring writer out there needs to read. Thanks for posting!

Lacey Devlin said...

Jackie - Isn't it fascinating how the human brain works? I hope it works for you too.

Suz - You're welcome!

Lacey Devlin said...

Julia - It's amazing, isn't it? There's no guarantee that it will happen every time but my theory is that, like anything, the more you do it, the better it gets.

Lacey Devlin said...

Nicole - It's much easier to do than stare at the computer screen for an hour =P

Nas - I'm glad you liked it and I hope you find it works for you too. Thanks for tweeting!

Anonymous said...

It's weird how you can beat your head against the wall for hours searching for the answer to a particular problem and as soon as you stop trying to come up with the solution - BAM- the perfect one hits you! (okay, not all the time. But SOMEtimes, LOL)

I find the little bit everyday part helpful too.

All around, a most EXCELLENT post. Thanks so much, Lacey!

Lacey Devlin said...

I'm glad you liked it, Aimee! I used to be a frequent member of the "beating your head against the wall" club =) This way's much better!

Happy writing!

Talli Roland said...

I find I often dream about my novels. It's my mind's way of working things through!

Great advice!

Teresa Ashby said...

Great advice, Lacey. I often find if I go to sleep on a writing problem, I wake up with the solution!

Anne MacFarlane said...

I find driving is one my best "plotting" activities. Sometimes I take a few wrong turns when my mind wanders.

Lacey Devlin said...

Talli - I'm so jealous =) I'm still working on tha.

Lacey Devlin said...

Teresa - That's so great! I'm a big fan of the solutions from nowhere too. Who wants to waste all that writing time? =)

Anne - LOL! You literally never know where it might take you!

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