My students get tired of hearing me say: “write more.” Very few writers write as much as they can, and as they should. If you’re experiencing challenges with your writing, ask yourself whether you’re writing enough.
- Approach more prospective clients?
- Blog more?
- Create a three-month cache of social media posts?
- Brainstorm more?
- Write more Kindle ebooks?
If you could do more of these things, what kind of an effect would that have? Would you increase your income? Get better clients?
Although we’re living in a golden age for writers — we have many more opportunities today than writers have ever had — we need to be active, and proactive, to take advantage of all those opportunities.
I try to be a productive writer, but when I review my own processes, I know I could be more productive. For me, that means more time focused on writing, and a little less time chatting on the phone, and browsing news websites.
A tip: keep a time log for a few days. You may be shocked, as I was, at the many minutes spent in useless activities.
My students find these tips useful. I hope that you do too.
1. Do your goals inspire you? Scrap any goals which don’t
We’re almost in the final third of 2015. Spend ten minutes thinking about your progress this year. How many goals have you achieved, or surpassed?
Your goals must excite you. If you’ve created “should” goals, that is, goals you think you should achieve, but don’t care about, scrap them.
Perhaps you’re struggling in a dying industry. Several ex-journalists have joined Team Up because they’ve seen their income drop year by year. When something isn’t working, do something else.
Look around. Your writing skills are valuable. It’s hard to leave your comfort zone, but take a step or two out of it. You’ll be amazed at how easily you can make the switch into more profitable forms of writing.
2. Brainstorm solutions to your writing challenges
You’re your own best coach. You use brainstorming to help you to write. Brainstorming is also useful for finding solutions to challenges. One “mommy blogger” discovered that she was more productive when she collaborated with another blogger, and hired a personal assistant.
3. Separate writing from editing: this instantly increases your productivity
Without a doubt, this is the number one reason we aren’t as productive as we could be.
Writing and editing are two very different mind states. Over time, you’ll be able to tell where your head is at. For example, yesterday morning, I found that I was stubbornly in an “editing” mind state. I had a mile of projects due, and allowed myself to panic. My “I’ll never get all this done” panic eclipsed my creativity.
Luckily, I had a couple of projects to edit, so I gave in. I stopped trying to force creativity, and edited the projects.
My lesson learned — stop overbooking myself.
When it’s time to write, relax. Let yourself write. Writing is discovery; it’s not typing. Accept what you write, when you write it. Fix it tomorrow. Write a project through to completion. Then edit.
To be in a “writing” mind state, you need to be relaxed, both mentally and physically. Have fun — it makes you more creative.
4. Visualize success: see it, be it
Before you start a project, imagine it completed. See yourself writing, in your mind’s eye. I try to do this with every project, but I tend to forget.
When I remember to visualize, and see projects successfully completed, I write more.
5. Protect your time: use “NO!” more often
If you don’t protect your writing time, you’ll find that others’ demands crowd it out. Don’t explain why you can’t do whatever it is that’s asked of you. Just say “no”, calmly.
Over time, your family and friends will realize that writing is important to you, and they’ll protect your time for you. Be willing to stand up for yourself until that happy day arrives.
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