2017/02/24

How to Be Productive

productive writer

A reader and fellow author approached me with a question that I think is worth sharing.
Hey Brian, I had a question for you as an aspiring writer. What are some tricks that you do to keep on top of your production? Most days I can barely get 500 words on the page and often I'll not have breached my already low 2500 word goal for the week leaving me feeling demoralized for the next round.
Because being prolific is the key to success as a writer, knowing how to stay productive is essential. Here is my approach.

First, what I_don't_do is set word count goals. I think Scott Adams gets it right with his maxim "Goals are for losers. Systems are for winners." The reason is the demoralization you feel when you fall short of a goal. That creates disincentives that you must expend willpower to overcome. No one has unlimited willpower. Eventually, you will burn out.

Second, the way to achieve high productivity is to set up a system that minimizes effort. Really examine your writing process. You already know that you top out at 500 words most days. Guess what? That's about equal to my most recent daily word count on a paying project under a deadline. But I'm not worried because I wrote well over 2000 words the day before and likely will tomorrow, too. If you're like me, some days you'll barely muster 500 words, and other days, you'll break 5000. Take note of those peak productive days. Ask yourself why you were so prolific. What factors contributed to your high output? Chances are, there are certain conditions that you can replicate.

In summation, avoid holding yourself to artificial, arbitrary benchmarks. Learn as much as you can about your own writing process, paying special attention to which conditions facilitate your writing the most. If you're getting low word counts during the day, try writing at night. If you need to take the odd day off to recharge your creative batteries, go take a walk, read, play some video games, and get back to writing tomorrow. You may end up making more progress than you would have by forcing yourself to write on both days. Experiment. Once you find the right system for you, it'll hardly feel like work.

You know I'm not pulling your chain because I've already written three books, and I'm working on a fourth right now. If you found this information helpful, please consider showing your support by picking up one or more of my award-winning, fan-pleasing novels.


@BrianNiemeier

4 comments:

  1. One mental trick I've used for myself is to make all goals stretch goals. This way I don't feel bad when I don't make them, since I didn't expect to anyway, but it does help to give me an anchor to figure out the structure of how much time to set aside, how to prepare (e.g. have a meal first or not), etc. I'm not a full time writer, though, so I have to make arrangements for time slots longer than about 5 minutes, and this may be more related to that. :)

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  2. Very practical advice. Do you mind if I link to your post from my personal blog? I'm still learning blog etiquette.

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  3. I highly recommend the book "5,000 word per hour" by Chris Fox. Listening to it on Audible now. Well worth the investment so far!

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