Monday, August 26, 2013

My top 10 tips for productive writing

Here are my 10 favorite productivity tips, all of them copied from highly productive writers. I wrote this post for the freelancer, so if you’re a staff writer, please adapt the tips to your particular office environment – for example, in Tip #9, you may prefer to keep the Post-It-Note out of sight.


1. Choose a reliable, easy-to-use system for planning, scheduling, keeping track of to-do’s, taking notes, and capturing ideas so you won’t forget them. Keep adjusting your system until, over time, it becomes effortless. Currently, I use Google Calendar and I carry a Moleskine pocket notebook everywhere except in the shower.

2. For most writers, the best work schedule is to write in the morning and leave the afternoon for administration, correspondence, social media, and research. Experiment to see if it suits you.

3. Ruthlessly schedule and jealously guard large blocks of time for writing. You can also get a lot done during waiting time if you always have work-in-progress with you in a pocket, backpack or briefcase. For example, I’m always writing or editing in the waiting rooms of auto-repair shops, doctors and dentists.


4. Use Mindmapping. It’s more efficient and effective than outlining, and it helps prevent procrastination.

5. Keep on hand a picture of a friend or acquaintance who is a member of the audience you’re writing for – a techie if you’re writing for techies, a business person if you’re writing for business people, and so on. Occasionally look at the picture and ask yourself if that person would understand and like what you are writing.

6. Never stop to edit while writing a draft; finish the whole draft and then edit it. While you’re writing, steadfastly refuse to look at social media or answer idle phone calls. Remember, you’re a professional writer and thinker, not a clerk.

7. Break once every 60 or 90 minutes. Stretch. Drink water. Walk around the office or outside the building. Rest your eye muscles by focusing on distant objects.


8. When we’re tired, we work unproductively and don’t realize it. Make it a habit to quit writing before you get tired – a tip from Dale Carnegie’s 1948 bestseller How to Stop Worrying and Start Living. And always quit in the middle of a sentence, so that next morning you’ll start writing easily and without hesitation.

9. If you’re feeling discouraged by an assignment, do this before leaving the office: On a Post-It-Note, write “You can do it. You’ve done it before.” Stick the note to your monitor. That reminder has kept me from despair on many a wintry morning.


10. Watch fewer TV programs and read more books and magazines. It will sharpen your intelligence, expand your knowledge, and refine your diction.

The Takeaway: By using these techniques, and adding your own, you can constantly improve your productivity.

Thanks to Janice L. Brown, Dale Carnegie, Stephen R. Covey, Daphne Gray-Grant, Charles R. Hobbs, Michael Hyatt, Stephen King, Alan Lakein, and Robert Ringer for dozens of productivity techniques.

Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in the sales of any product or service mentioned in this post. See general disclaimer.

No comments:

Post a Comment