Keep your writing app open

There are many techniques and methodologies and goodness knows what else that claim to help you with your productivity. For writers, there is often a battle to get started, but the keeping going, that’s also tough, what with all those pesky distractions. This year, I’m trying a new approach to writing fiction and it goes against everything I’ve ever done. But it works.

In sight, in mind

Via the passage of marriage to my wife, which is how it usually happens, I am son-in-law to widely published children’s author and all-round maker of fine evening meals, Kathryn White. I spoke to her on a recent episode of the Write for Your Life podcast about her writing process. It’s from this conversation that I came to an obvious conclusion.

If my writing is in front of me, if it’s always nearby, both in sight and in mind, I will probably write more.

Kathryn keeps her laptop open in the living room at all times. She will do the bulk of her writing in the study, but when she’s finished, she takes the laptop with her and sets it up in the communal area. She goes back to it on a regular basis and does a little writing here, a little writing there. I’ve seen the system in action. It’s effective.

Always open, always there

That’s not the tip I want to pass on or the approach I’m taking this year, but it’s based on a similar notion. I’m not taking my laptop with me everywhere I go, but to make sure I always have my work close at hand, I’m never shutting it down. My writing app of choice is Scrivener. Scrivener stays open. Always.

In fact, not only is it always open, whenever I leave my desk to get a nice cup of cocoa or change a nappy, I make sure that my writing is the first thing I see on my return. I figure, if Twitter is the first thing I see, I will likely tweet. If my writing I the first thing I see, I will likely write. So far, that theory is proving to be true. It makes perfect sense.

Share your thoughts

So there you have it. A super simple productivity tip for writers. Feel free to tell me yours in the comments.

14 Comments 23 January 2013 Reply

Interesting concept and psychologically it makes sense too. Unfortunately with a household like mine, it’s impossible to do.
My main productivity method is to shut everything down on my computer except my word processing page, ignore the phone, ensure I’ve done everything I need to do so it won’t prey on my mind, and commit to a time slot for my writing, even if it’s only 20 minutes.

Thanks for sharing. 23 January 2013 Reply

No problem at all. I think your way is probably the most sensible! 23 January 2013 Reply

This is a great method when you’ve got young children. Been there! Now that mine’s older though I am more able to schedule my time in front of the screen. I think any writing life is always evolving and having to adapt to the needs of regular life. 23 January 2013 Reply

Well being flexible is certainly important for any writer and I think that’s the essence of this theory, especially how Kathryn does it. 23 January 2013 Reply

I love this idea immensely. I am going to try a combo of your suggestion and Kathryn’s method as well. Thanks for sharing. 23 January 2013 Reply

No problem. Hope it works for you!

Anonymous 25 January 2013 Reply

[…] Great tip from the much admired and respected Ian Broome, over on his blog Write for Your Life. It seems quite obvious at first, but when you think about it, do you actually do it? Have you ever done it? It’s so simple that we just don’t think about it. Why should having Byword open help me writing? Well, Ian explains. […] 26 January 2013 Reply

That. Is. Genius.
I always have mine open as well. I use Scrivener like you, but I’m still a tad wet behind the ears in its uses.

But I never thought of pulling it open before I walk away from it I think I shall have to try that from now on.

Thank you!

Anonymous 2 February 2013 Reply

[…] A Simple Productivity Tip for Writers… – Keep your writing app open. If it’s in your face and the first thing you see, you are more likely to do it. I agree. […] 6 February 2013 Reply

I’m not saying it should be of paramount importance, but as writers shouldn’t we respect the rules of the language we’re using? I’m talking grammar, sorry. Blogs, emails, suchlike encourage a more careless approach, I know, than we’d use for our manuscripts and the rules are difficult, but I’m pretty sure it’s not ‘you’re’ for ‘your’ or ‘it’s’ for ‘its’. (Now I’ll check over this message and miss an error probably!) 8 February 2013 Reply

Hi!Your reply to first above (23 Jan) and C R Trumbo’s posting 26 Jan. Ta for reply
vb 8 February 2013 Reply

Ah, okay. Harsh!
I thought you meant in the article itself. It’s fair to say replies to comments are written with a little more haste and a lot less proofreading. I’ve changed them both. 26 February 2013 Reply

We are what we repeatedly do.Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
– Aristotle

The moments we are in, not asleep, are the moments that fill our cups.

Nice reminder Iain.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.