A Month of Progress: 4 Writing-Related Things I Learned in January

This month has been big for me, and it’s felt like a lot of progress has been made over the last 31 days. I’ve posted my first story to Wattpad, I’ve sent another story in to a contest in London, I’ve joined a challenge on thewritepractice.com called the 100 Day Book Challenge where I get a coach to help me write a first draft of a novel in 100 days, and, though I wasn’t trying to come up with an idea for a novel, I figured out a premise for a YA Fantasy that I’m going to use as my 100 day challenge.

I’ve also learned a lot this month in the areas of productivity, so I’d like to share 4 of the main things that have been very beneficial for me in January.


I know right? Just the word by itself is enough to spark tension and groans. I definitely felt the same way. What changed my mind, however, was that I started listening to a podcast that interviews writers about their processes, and these writers talk about how much more productive they are when they use an outline.

So I did two things: I read a book called “Outlining Your Novel” by K.M. Weiland, and I started using an outlining app called OmniOutliner that can be found in the iOS App Store.

As a therapist, I should have by now realized how much anxiety can be relieved by simply having a plan, but the fact is, I always have resisted writing an outline because my inner self believes that I’m wasting time in doing so. I could say much more about outlining, but to do so would probably require its own separate post. (Note to self: plan to unpack this further in a future post.)

Being a dictator

I read another book this month called “On Being a Dictator” by Kevin J. Anderson and Martin L. Shoemaker, and in it both authors describe how they are able to get through several thousand words per day by dictating their novels and stories using a voice recorder.

I have tried this before with my therapy notes, and though it did help with my productivity, I started resisting it mainly because I don’t like talking to nothing or being precise in my speaking. Not to mention I don’t like the sound of my voice.

However, their testimony about their process encouraged me to give it a try again, so that’s something that I’ll be practicing in the future. This should also be even more effective when combined with an outline. Often I just don’t know what to say, so combining this with the first thing I learned should help.

Writing a Premise

This is another thing that I was very resistant to. A premise is just a short sentence that says what your story is about. I never actually saw the point in doing this because I figured that I should just “know” what my story is about, and taking the time to craft a premise was just a waste. I was very wrong.

In crafting the premise for the story I plan to use in the 100 Day challenge, I found that writing down the sentence solidified that my story was something valid, and it served as a launching point for further idea generation.

Here’s the premise I plan to use for my first novel:

Desperate to know if her father is alive, a young teenage girl traverses through the portal he vanished through two years ago and finds herself alone and defenseless in a deadly underground land.

(The working title I have for this is called Underland. I’ve already started working on the outline.)

Keeping up with my reading

The last and probably most important thing that I learned in January is how to stay on top of that massive reading list. If you’re like me, you buy a lot of books and probably attempt to read them all at the same time.

In the past this has led to massive book burnout where I don’t even want to pick up a book because I’m always thinking about the next book that I should be reading.

But I’m pleased to say that I think I’ve found a method that works for me.

First I read on my Kindle Oasis. I do this for several reasons. 1. I can have the books book that I am reading at my finger tips without hauling them around. 2. I am able to read in short spurts if I get time. 3. I have something very lightweight to hold so that I am rarely uncomfortable. 4. I minimize distractions and keep my eyes from being uncomfortable.

The next thing I do is I take my Kindle with me to the gym and read while I’m on the treadmill or stair-stepper. Writing and reading are sedentary things, so I felt that it was best to start walking while I read so that I get my exercise in (plus I feel a lot better). This has helped so much in getting through my reading, and I think I focus on it more since my body is being active; which means I remember more (more on the psychology on this later).

That’s it! 4 things to increase productivity: Outlining, Dictating, Writing a premise, and ways to keep up with my reading. I hope you find these helpful! Let me know in the comments! Or talk about what productivity habits you have that help you get your writing or reading done!

Happy writing!


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