Life Habits, Writing Tips

Breakdown Writing

A few years ago I began instigating a method that allowed me to be the most productive I’ve ever been. I think of it as breakdown writing. Writing is hard, and sometimes I really struggle. Not because I have writer’s block or too busy. But because I have a hard time just sitting and writing. At times, I get too caught up in thinking about the story and what happens that I don’t feel like I can get it written. However, the method I utilized helped with focus, efficiency, and the periodic case of writer’s block.

This concept has two parts to it. First by utilizing any five minute increment available. Next by just writing what has to happen next. What goes along with exercising these parts is the realization that the first draft will not be perfect, and you can always come back to fill in what isn’t quite right.

Especially at the beginning of November, you may want to practice greater efficiency. With NaNoWriMo, I can’t thing of any better reason to use breakdown writing this month.

Use Five Minutes

No one can write a novel in one sitting. The process is broken down into a number of writing times. Since the majority of us don’t have all the time in the world, and are actually quite busy in life, we have to breakdown writing moments into smaller or less frequent times. I argue that smaller is more efficient than less frequent.

Writing is an immersive activity, especially when writing something as long and complicated as a story. Longer increments of time between writing opportunities requires additional time to refresh and re-immerse in the story at each writing session. If writing daily, the story probably has not had time to leave your mind.

When I faithfully practiced breakdown writing, I spent the 5 minutes of time I had between getting ready for work and when I had to leave to write at least a sentence or two. While it may take a long time to write a story one sentence at a time, I was able to keep the story fresh in my mind. This actually helps in the development of the story since most development is in thinking rather than writing.

What Needs to Happen Next?

The second part this writing method of increased productivity involves asking one question. What needs to happen next? This question prompts the very next words to be written. The answer may involve a reaction of a character, or an event in the plot. But this has allowed me to focus on what needs to be written at that moment.

My mind is allowed to daydream about the rest of the story while I’m walking to work or otherwise available to think freely. But while I am at my computer or notebook, it is time to write the next moments of the story.

I generally reread the last paragraph or two that I wrote and then ask what needs to happen next. With the answer, I start writing. Periodically I don’t know all of the details, however, I write what I do know and then continue on. The purpose of this is to make progress and as you go further along, you are able to work out the details in the second and third drafts.

What helps you improve your efficiency in writing and creating?

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