Wednesday, February 9, 2011

10 Tips to Ensure a Productive Writing Day

Are you ready? Really ready? Here's a checklist to help your writing day go swimmingly.

10. Disconnect your computer from the internet.
NO! Not now! Wait until you've finished reading this post! And maybe a few other blogs...and checked your email...and...

9. Know the location of the sugary snacks.
Check to make sure they're still there. Knowledge is power.

8. Have a vague idea of what you're going to write.
This is no guarantee that you will write what you expect.

7. Wander around the room flexing your fingers and muttering encouragement.
The yelp you just heard was caused by, in your daze of self-glorification, your treading upon your pet's tail. Crouch down, apologise and try to ignore the thump of pet-guilt that just wrapped its legs around your shoulders.

6. Go get a sugary snack.
Wash your hands afterwards. Chocolate fingerprints tend to make seeing the letters on your keyboard a challenge.

5. Ignore the baleful stare emanating from your pet.
Really try. It's harder than you'd think. Try not to feel the laser beams penetrating the back of your neck.

4. If you're working on a first draft do not go back and reread everything you've written before you start today's writing.
This is a no-win scenario. You like it and you've lost an hour to imagining which yummy movie stars are going to be clamouring to play your characters and starting to compose your acceptance speeches for both the Booker and the Oscar. You don't like it and the temptation to just stop writing and pursue that career as a welder may become overwhelming.

3. Is there a dragon or other cuddly monster in your manuscript?
Your main character noticing a poster with one on it as he/she is walking past a bookstore counts.

2. Add one scene where someone smells the worst smell they've ever experienced.
This situation can end in horror or humour. You decide.

1. Realize your trod-upon pet is now devouring the sugary treats.
You can't write now - you have to go to the store.

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Elspeth Antonelli is an author and playwright. Her twelve murder mystery games and two plays are available through She has also contributed articles to the European writers' magazine "Elias". Her blog, "It's A Mystery," explores the writing process with a touch of humor. She is on Twitter as @elspethwrites.


  1. 10. Must...check...e-mail...
    9. But I'm on a diet.
    8. - 5. Check. (There went the diet.)
    4. But...but...
    3. Need to find dragon/monster.
    2. Need more disgusting smells
    1. Clean carpet from pet throwing up sugary snacks

    Okay, got it. I'm ready. Thanks.

  2. LOL, Not sure which was funnier, yours Elspeth, or Linda's. I am not even going to try to top either. Thanks for the chuckle ladies.

  3. Hmmm. Sounds like someone has been spying on me when I write. Except I have several pets, a few of whom sit on my desk and occasionally have to be brushed off the keyboard. Or the keyboard brushed off after they've sat on it.

  4. Love it, so true. Does an imaginary pet dragon count, though?

  5. Very cute. And not such bad advice!

  6. In item #4 "an" should be "and."

    Oh! I know it was just a typo, but it must be fixed, right? ;)

  7. Linda; Well done. Dragons/monsters are crafty. They could be anywhere. I suggest checking the cookie jar first.

    Maryann; I agree, Linda's comment is great! Glad to be able to be a chuckle-giver.

    Becky; Muahahaha. Good luck getting that keyboard fur-free.

    Girl Friday; Of course an imaginary dragon would count!

    Helen; Thanks!

    Lauren; Here's an odd thing. I went to fix the typo and that 'd' was there in my draft. Re-posted it and suddenly the 'd' appeared. I have no explanation. Thanks for the heads-up!

  8. That list is so ME!!!

    Elspeth has been spying on me again, except I'm getting the baleful pet stare because I trimmed the sharp tips off Katie's front claws this morning. Now she slides off the chairs (and my pant legs) and can't cling.

  9. Patricia; A warning: Revenge of the Kitten, not as painless as you'd think.

  10. That's me, too. I don't have a pet, though. Does my hubby count?

  11. Actually, I read the day's writing before I go to bed, and then use my notes to get a running start the next day.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  12. Luana; Spouses always count. Some more than others. Wow. That was dark.

    Terry; And that is why you're far more efficient than me!

  13. Lisa; #4 is a hard hurdle to scramble over.

  14. Elspeth, since you announced on your blog that you were not feeling well this morning, I baby-sat this one for you. Fixed the typo and added your bio. Glad to see you are feeling better and able to say howdy here.

  15. Excellent advice. The only thing missing from the checklist: Make sure you've enough teabags for your endless supply of cups of tea.


  16. David; Of course. I've learned, however, to keep the tea pot a safe distance from the keyboard. And that's all I'm going to say about that painful episode.

  17. I've got the dog who barks when I start typing, so I have to let her out. Many times it wasn't a false alarm, so I never know. Sometimes it is.

    Then I have to ply her with bones and treats until she gets tired and falls asleep.

    Then I get tempted to see what's happening on Facebook or my emails. Sometimes I can resist, not always.

    Despite that, I've been good almost every day now at getting 1,000 or more words done on my manuscript for Forever Young.

    Morgan Mandel

  18. Morgan; Well done! You deserve a cupcake.

  19. LOL. That's me, except for the pet but I can substitute that with another walk to the kitchen cabinet, getting the chocolate.
    Great post!

  20. Christa; Think of the walk to the cupboard as a cardio workout. Now you've earned that sugary snack.

  21. If you feel you need to use an exclamation point, you haven’t written a good line of dialogue or a creative scene. Incorporate the excitement in what you put on paper, not with punctuation symbols (and don’t write another vampire story).

  22. Okay, sorry I'm late. I've been listening to Rodney Crowell YouTubes so I can bet my writing more lyrical. :)

  23. Larry; Thanks for the tips. Those are food for thought.

    Dani; You're a writer after my own heart.

  24. Love the ones about the pet! I have a mastiff that thinks she is a lap dog every time I sit down to write. I typically having a shoving match with her... I win but not after I am fully exhausted... Did I mention she will try and but my lap top shut?

  25. Mflik1; Oh, thank you for sharing that! I needed a laugh. Crap. I just used an exclamation point. Sorry, Larry.

  26. Well I tried today. 2.000 words or there abouts... but my muse is failing me now. Phew... and it's only 3.22pm.
    Is it wine oclock yet? :)

  27. Suzanne; Good grief, yes. You've earned a glass. Well done.

  28. As to #8: Just experienced that with my blog yesterday. Had one topic in mind but then I realized I had typed a word whose meaning I didn't intend.

    Then realized the word I'd typed had a strong societal underpinning--most women would have expressed this--but it wasn't really the way I felt.

    And I was off and running on a whole new topic!

  29. That was cute. MMy problem isn't the internet. It's the stupid games I have on this contraption.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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