How Prolifiko changed my writing practice

Until about six months ago I loved writing but always found it an agonising process. This might sound odd for someone who earned their living by writing and who has kept a journal for thirty years. But it’s true. I was so gripped by ‘not good enough’ worries that I found it painful to write and my writing practice suffered as a result. But I was driven to do it. I love writing, but it was almost a form of torture punctuated by enough waves of blissful creativity and flow to be addictive.

Then I saw a friend’s tweet about Prolifiko and how it was helping her write her PhD. I had started writing a book last year, and I’d had some wonderful writing spurts, a couple of months when everything was working and I could write easily.

Then came troughs of blankness, or other life and work things elbowing my writing out of the way, which of course set up a spiral of guilt and writer’s block. I really wanted to finish my book, but getting beyond 25,000 words seemed impossible.

Tackling the monolith

Then I was interviewed for a writers’ podcast and the interviewer prodded me to commit to finishing my first draft in six months. I agreed to finishing my book by the beginning of October: I really wanted to, but it still seemed impossible.

So seeing my friend’s tweet came at just the right time. I signed up to beta Prolifiko and my whole writing practice changed.

I didn’t have to tackle the whole monolith of 90,000 words, I could break it down into tasks as small as I needed and slowly make my way up the mountain. And I did! I finished my first draft two weeks ahead of schedule. Just over 90,000 words. Not perfect, but done and ready for editing.

Of course this is project management 101, but it hadn’t occurred to me that I could apply this to my personal writing. I was so hamstrung by anxiety, the fear of not knowing enough, and that my writing was no good, that I couldn’t be objective about how to get the job done.

“I signed up to beta Prolifiko and my whole writing practice changed.”

Prolifiko felt like a relief. These were familiar tools: set goals, steps to achieve the goals, and deadlines. It demystified the process of building a manuscript and freed my mind to focus on the act of writing.

It didn’t mean I had to write eight hours a day in a lonely garret. I wrote when I could and ticked off the steps and goals as I went. As a person who loves lists, this suited me really well.

Never nagging

It helps that Prolifiko is encouraging, not nagging, and allows you to pause or edit goals if you need to. The semi-public nature of the website gives a different level of accountability.

It feels like Bec and Chris are cheering you on but not judging you if you have to adjust your deadlines. And they literally cheer you on social media – the Twitter encouragement and now the Facebook group help you feel supported and less isolated in your writing.

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Using Prolifiko meant I could go on a trip to Australia for three weeks and not lose writing time. Instead of a line on my to-do list that said ‘write manuscript’, I had some concrete tasks to do while I was away that kept the momentum going.

Syncing with Scrivener

I think it also helps that I write when and wherever I can, on whatever I have in front of me whether it’s the notes app on my phone, a pen and notebook, or a scrawl on the back of a receipt.

One of my regular Prolifiko steps is to write up notes and put them in my Scrivener project so they’re not lost.

Which brings me to the next point. Prolifiko dovetails nicely with Scrivener. I use Scrivener’s project targets and statistics to keep track of my writing progress and to update Prolifiko.

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At the moment I’m using Prolifiko for editing my manuscript, and for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, where you sign up to write 50,000 words of a novel in November, a commitment I wouldn’t have contemplated pre-Prolifiko).

Creative habits

Prolifiko has become more than a writing tool, it has boosted my confidence that I can reach my word goals and get the project done in my own way. Lots of writing coaches and websites tell you to get up in the cold grey dawn to write, or to be disciplined about writing at the same time every day.

I’m sure it suits some people, but I find even the idea immediately demotivating. When I was a single mother I could only snatch moments of time to make art, but I had a groove in my mind that was constantly thinking about art and where to take my current project.

“Prolifiko has become more than a writing tool, it has boosted my confidence that I can reach my word goals and get the project done in my own way.”

This has become my creative habit and applies equally to writing as it does to art.  Ideas, phrases, even titles and plots can materialise at inconvenient times, so I write a quick note and collate it all later.

Prolifiko brings a way of ordering this process. I don’t need to follow someone else’s formula for writing. I can do it my way and still finish.

If you want to write but feel daunted, or if you have trouble finishing your writing projects, Prolifiko is just the thing you need.

Felicity Griffin Clark About the author: Felicity Griffin Clark is an Australian artist and writer, living in Rome. She writes and edits website and blog content for money, and short stories, poems and prose pieces for the love of it. Current obsessions focus on exploring the interactions of art and writing, text and textile, and fiction and memoir.