Productivity tips help you to write more, and sell more. Here’s my best tip: use lists. You can use lists at every stage of the writing process. Lists will make any writer more productive. I encourage you to create Quick Lists for tasks you can do in under ten minutes.
Here’s a secret: all your writing goes better with LISTS. Lists are a form of brainstorming. You may not even use anything from a list in the final piece of writing, but a list conquers inertia, so that you’re rolling.
I use lists every day; all day. Sometimes they’re just lists; often they’re cluster diagrams, or mind maps.
Here are five ways in which you can make writing easier with lists…
1. Lists kick aside your logic. Logic can kill your creativity.
When you’re writing first drafts, logic is your enemy. If you apply logic too early in the writing process it will stifle your creativity. Of course logic is necessary, but our schooling ensures that we apply logic too early. Once logic gets a death grip on your first draft writing it sucks the life right out of it. You can’t get that early inspiration back.
Brainstorm lists in your first drafts. Then let yourself write freely. Logic comes later.
2. Lists get you started writing. Getting started is always a challenge.
A list will get you started, even when you don’t know how to get started. Let’s say someone’s hired you to write the Web content for a new website.
You’ve never done this before. The gig scares you so much you stare at the computer screen until your eyeballs are dry and sore. You wonder why you ever got the crazy idea that you could write for money. Believe it or not, you’re doing great! Your imagination and creativity are working just fine. You need to bend them into the right direction.
Create a list of all the reasons you can’t write the website now, or ever. Keep going until you run out of reasons. If you do this, here’s what will happen:
* You’ll feel silly;
* You’ll get angry. (Anger is good; it’s energy. You can use this in your writing.)
Next, start another list. Write down anything you like, right down the page. Your list’s new title could be: “If I did know how to write Web content, this is what I’d write.”
Now you’ve got all your negativity out of the way, your inspiration and creativity will flower.
3. You can use lists at any stage of the writing process.
Stuck? A list will always get you out of any stuck place. Start with a question.
Staying with our writing Web content example, you might ask yourself when you’re writing the About page: “What do customers really need to know about this company?”
Write down anything at all — don’t over-think this. Write whatever pops into your head. Your list helps you to conquer inertia, and the fear of the blank page.
4. Lists help you to become prolific and overcome procrastination.
I’ve encouraged you to stop thinking. Well… thinking in YOUR HEAD, instead of thinking on the page, or computer screen.
Years ago, an editor told me I was “too prolific”. I thanked him for pointing it out — I used to be the Queen of Procrastination. Thinking on the typewriter, rather than in my head (this was pre-1981, when I got my first computer) helped me to overcome procrastination. Listing helped me to become prolific. Eventually.
5. Lists are a powerful editing tool.
Writing is messy, especially if you’re working on a long project, like a book.
Lists help you to keep everything straight. Think of your editing lists as post-writing outlines. When you create a list, you’ll see the bare bones of what you wrote. Usually you’ll discover that you left out something vital. All writers are prone to page blindness; what we think is on the page is still in our head.
For example, let’s say you’re writing a novel. One of your characters is “an ineffectual father.” You know he’s ineffectual. Other characters say he’s ineffectual, but WHERE do you SHOW him being thoroughly ineffectual? You may well be baffled when your lists tell you that you’ve never shown him to be ineffectual, and if you don’t show it, your readers won’t believe it, and they won’t be satisfied.
Lists can help you in many ways. They’re a powerful writing tool. Best of all, lists are easy to create. Go and create a list, right now. 🙂
Start using these productivity tips today. Use lists in all your writing.
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