How I increased my writing productivity with a $40 piece of hardware

I write where and when I have two seconds to spare, but one thing I was rarely using to write was the netbook computer I got specifically for writing. My obstacle? I couldn’t install Office on it easily without a DVD drive, and netbooks—for the sake of weight—don’t come with optical drives. So I put it off, I limped along with freeware and copying things to .rtf files and converting them where and when I could. I tried a bunch of different workarounds and alternatives to the real Microsoft product (and I’m no MS loyalist or anything, but Office is the standard in most environments, and it makes things like reading track changes and comments from editors incredibly easy). At the end of the day, however, I knew I had to figure something out; it had gotten to the point where I was starting to price new desktop machines, totally negating the point and portability (and price!) of my netbook.

On July 12, I went to my local big box electronics giant. Ten minutes later, I was $40 poorer and had an external USB DVD RW drive. I installed Office that same afternoon, and proceeded to finish a 100-page editing project I’d been putting off. If I hadn’t done this simple thing, I would have had to carve time out for this project when I could use a Word-installed machines, typically on weekends. I finished the editing project in exactly 19 days because I could do it in mornings before work, afternoons and evenings after work, and on weekends. Had I done it piecemeal, I would still be working on it.

So the point of this post is not to say that a DVD drive will make you a more productive writer. It’s what helped me, because it was something I needed. Look at what your equivalent obstacle is. Sometimes we make things harder on ourselves for no good reason. I can afford forty bucks. Your technology, time, or effort block might not even be that expensive to fix—heck, it could be free. On the other hand, it might be significantly pricier. If I didn’t already have the netbook and a copy of MS Office, this would have been more like a $400 outlay. But if the obstacle is something that can be overcome quickly, easily, and creatively, why aren’t you doing it? Laziness? Procrastination? Fear?

I think there’s probably something in the back of my head that knew that if I did this, it would mean I had to write more consistently, because there was no other excuse not to. So maybe my fear wasn’t of failure, it was of success—success at creating a regular writing practice and getting pieces out the door more regularly. If I wasn’t publishing as much before, I could always claim it was hard for me to get enough writing hours in. Now, if I’m not publishing as much, I don’t have that as an excuse and must examine why my output is still low. The happy result of this simple addition to my home office has shown me that I’m capable of a better output, as I’ve managed to place some short stories this summer and have several more in various stages of completion, not to mention my novels-in-progress. I also managed to get The Red Eye ready to go, so in a roundabout way, this $40 piece of hardware led me to the impending publication of my first novel.

If you’re feeling not so much writer’s block as writer’s laziness, see if something as simple could shake you out of that rut, too.


Filed under blog, writing advice

2 responses to “How I increased my writing productivity with a $40 piece of hardware

  1. Pingback: Permission to write: why a writing retreat offers 4 great benefits to your creativity | K.W. Taylor

  2. Pingback: Boost Your Writing Output in 2016 – Broadkill Resort

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