20 Ways to Become a More Productive Writer

by | Dec 3, 2014

By Nina Amir

If 81 percent of the U.S. population wants to write a book, why do only two percent accomplish that goal?

First, the majority of aspiring authors don’t have a strong enough desire to achieve this status, so they don’t take the necessary action to manifest their dream. Second, they lack the motivation, organization, tenacity, mindset, or energy to write their books. Thus, they are left feeling they can’t become authors.

If, to date, you have not written your book, you likely fall into one of these two categories. Since you read this blog, I’m going to assume you have a strong desire to write your book. That means you are willing to take some action toward your goal.

Maybe at this moment, however, you feel like I did at one point in my life. You are frustrated with your past level of performance and achievement, and you are ready to make a change. You want to generate more motivation, organization, tenacity, and energy to write your books. You want to rid yourself of limiting beliefs and negative thoughts that hold you back from becoming an author or succeeding as a writer.

Change Happens in a Moment, Transformation Takes Time

You can make the decision to change in a moment, but that doesn’t mean you will change at that moment. Think about New Year’s resolutions: You may decide to change as the clock hits midnight, but how many resolutions have you only kept for a few days or a week? Transformation didn’t occur even during those early weeks of the New Year.

That’s because real transformation takes work and commitment. Change takes time. Personal growth requires a moment-to-moment commitment as well as a high level of intention, consciousness and initiative. You need these qualities to make the changes you want or need related to writing a book as well.

High-Performance Habits for Writers

As you approach the New Year, I’m sure you’d prefer to know you will keep your resolutions. You would like to create sustained change so you can write your book or books, produce more content and do so in a consistent manner.

To write a book, employ the habits used by high performers, successful people in almost any industry as well as in publishing. Here are 20 such habits you can use this coming year to help you meet your writing goals consistently.

  1. Prepare your mind and body. Your mind responds to how you take care of your body. Eat a good diet. Drink a lot of water. Exercise. Sleep enough. Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine. Use high-quality supplements and nutritional products. You will write with more clarity if you feed your mind what it needs.
  2. Take frequent breaks. Studies show that those who take frequent breaks outperform those who work for hours without stopping. Get up from your computer and get a drink of water, stretch, or go for a walk around the block twice every hour—or, at a minimum, once every 50 minutes.
  3. Set your daily priorities. Know what you need to get done. Stick to those priorities—that means your daily word or page count or project to-do list. Don’t do anything else until you meet that goal. No surfing the Net. No calling your mom or checking email or posting on Facebook.
  4. Leave your email until later. Do not check your email first thing in the morning or right before you begin to write. This habit distracts you from your priority—writing. It also allows other people to dictate how you spend your time. Focus on want you to do and accomplish, rather than on what others want to do and accomplish.
  5. Use a daily to-do list or productivity planner. Rely on this tool to help you stay organized with your time and projects. Plan out the next day as you finish your work. When you show up at your desk, you’ll know exactly what you need to accomplish.
  6. Use time blocking. Organize your daily schedule in blocks of time, and include one or more for writing. Set an intention, or goal, for each block. Nothing else happens in your writing time block other than writing. You also can set goals for each time block.
  7. Turn off the Internet. While working on a time block, shut down your Web browser completely. You know what happens when you check email or a new Facebook or Twitter message; you get lost on the Internet—sometimes for hours. You must turn off the Internet for periods of time. There are great programs for this, such as:
  8. Have a routine. Create a routine if you don’t have one. Stick to it! This routine can be for writing, but you should have a daily routine that includes exercise, meditation, learning, and anything else you value.
  9. Master your thoughts. Negative thinking and limiting beliefs are a sure-fire way to get off track when you write. They make you feel inadequate and unable to accomplish your goals. If you need to take up a meditation practice to become more conscious of your thoughts, do so. Find some way to pay attention to what goes on in your mind. When you find your mind filled with messages that make you feel badly about yourself and your writing, change those thoughts to positive, affirming ones. You control 70 percent of your potential because it involves controlling your mind.
  10. Choose who you want to be every day. You get to choose how you show up each day. If your boyfriend dumped you or you owe the IRS $4,000, you can still choose to bring joy, focus and concentration to your writing periods. You can determine how you feel and who you want to be. Do you want to be depressed or worried? Or would you like to be joyous and confident. Choose…then choose again and again and again. Every day, hour, moment, you create yourself. Brendon Bouchard says, “A power plant doesn’t have energy, it generates it.” Decide what you will generate every day—what type of writer you will be every day—productive or unproductive, successful or unsuccessful.
  11. Show up. Every day, show up as the person you want to be with the energy and attitude you want to have. No matter what happens, you have to show up and be effective.
  12. Protect your confidence. Don’t put yourself in situations that might cause you to question your ability to write a book. Don’t tell your mother you are writing a book if she is critical and will say, “There’s no way you can write a book. You are crazy to try.” Don’t show your manuscript to your friend who aspires to be a nonfiction book editor (but isn’t one) and who will return it “bleeding” red ink just to prove she knows what she’s doing. These events will wreck your confidence and possibly cause you to give up on your goal of becoming an author before you are even halfway through your project.
  13. Have clarity about your goal. Know why you write. Understand your motivation and ambition. Once you do, you’ll find it easier to sit at your desk each day and work on your manuscript. Choose your purpose, and know your Big Why. Have clarity about your goals. Ambition will move the needle on your productivity. That means you have to know what you desire and why.
  14. Be on purpose. Determine if your activities align with your goals. For each activity or opportunity, ask yourself, “ Is this helping me achieve what I want as a writer or author?”
  15. Do the most important things first. If writing is your priority, that gets accomplished before everything else.
  16. Create a restart button. This will helps you stop the processes in your mind or body that hold you back when external situations become challenging. Your restart could be a 30-minute jog, a meditation period, a bit of chi gong, a nap, or playing catch with the dog. Choose an activity that brings you back to center and reminds you of your purpose and how you want to show up.
  17. Bring energy to your day and writing periods. Wake up and create a heightened state of energy so you approach the day or the times when you write with joy and enthusiasm. Do this with mind exercises, body movements, music, or self-talk. Don’t ever sit down to write feeling tired, bored or low energy.
  18. Realize that fears aren’t real. There are only two types of fear: The first involves physical safety and the second emotional safety and comfort. Few writers fear for their physical safety, but many make excuses that allow them to feel emotionally safe and comfortable. If you suffer from the latter type, fear becomes a mind-management issue. You have to become conscious of your thoughts and aware of how they control your behavior. Then you have to change them into ones that support your writing rather than hinder it.
  19. Combine your passion with your purpose. Passion will sustain your writing efforts. That’s why when you start a writing project it’s important to choose subjects about which you feel passionate. You also want to choose a book project that feels on purpose—that aligns with your Big Why. If you do those two things, you will feel inspired. That feeling will move you forward to the conclusion of your project more often than anything else.
  20. Make yourself accountable. Set a deadline for the completion of your first draft and for the publication of your book (or for finding an agent or publisher). Then schedule time into your calendar for the necessary tasks, including writing, so you meet that deadline. Don’t create a deadline that is a year or two years from now. Push yourself to get your book written and published fast! You’ll get more done if you push yourself.

To write a book, to become an author, learn high-performance habits and mindsets. If you are struggling to become an author, or if you are finding it difficult to finish your book project, your current habits likely are not helping you achieve your goal. That means you need to adopt new ones. If you put even a few of tips above to work for you, you will find yourself more productive each day. That means your manuscript will start taking shape faster than you thought possible, and you’ll become a consistently more productive and successful writer.

Nina AmirNina Amir, is a Contributing Writer for TheBookDesigner.com. She is also the author of How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, and transforms writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs.

You can learn more about Nina here.

 
Photo: bigstockphoto.com

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33 Comments

  1. Kathy Patricia

    Writing is an art in my opinion. I found these tips really helpful. Thanks for your effort.

    Reply
  2. mamun

    Exceptional tips Nina! thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Nina Amir

      Glad you found them helpful, Mamun.

      Reply
  3. jacky risham

    Extraordinary tips. I resounded with the counsel to “be deliberately.” I’m an amusing blogger, a book analyst, a short-story essayist and a writer of ladies’ fiction. Kinda everywhere. It might be ideal on the off chance that I limited my concentration to hone my character. And after that stick to exercises that keep me intentionally, for example, withdrawing to any online journals/pamphlets/whatever that don’t meet that reason, regardless of how superb they are.

    Reply
    • Nina Amir

      Thanks for your comment, Jacky. Has being more deliberate helped?

      Reply
  4. Rahul amin

    Good write thanks for your great Article.

    Reply
  5. Susan Feerman

    Ooohh, a solid list for a writer. I should try this!

    Reply
  6. ebooks2go

    Exceptional tips Nina! Really amazing and could be handy for most indie authors and writers.

    Reply
  7. Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva

    “Change Happens in a Moment, Transformation Takes Time.” This is such a true and powerful statement which has inspired my writing as well as my life in general. I’m learning to make subtle changes everyday, but I understand that my heart won’t change over night. It’s a process. Transformation takes time and dedication. Thanks for this.

    Reply
  8. Daksh Kadian

    Well Written article… I will be visiting again to read more… Sharing this with my friends

    Reply
  9. preetam

    Can you suggest some good topics for my website too. Thanks in advance

    Reply
    • Nina Amir

      I can’t do that here, Preetam. And I don’t even see the site. You are welcome to contact me at http://www.NinaAmir.com for a blog consult. I’d be happy to help you create a content plan.

      Reply
  10. David Freeman

    Well said Nina. Your guidelines are applicable to anyone with dreams and challenges.

    To punctuate my time blocks, I’ve added a half hour bike sprint in the morning and in the evening to keep my parts primed and my brain cells lubricated. I also, like your idea of a standing desk I suggested it to my wife, yesterday.

    In a standing position, I think I will be able to keep my ADHD fidgets directed at writing and it will eliminate the problem of having to pry myself out of my chair to straighten my back.

    Additionally, I could jog or dance in place as I search for the perfect word or phrase in my writing of the day. I’m feeling healthier and more productive, already.

    Dave

    Reply
    • Nina Amir

      I’m adding in short exercise more and more and standing more and more. Let me know how it goes, David!

      Reply
  11. Antara Man

    Write or die – I like the slogan!

    Reply
  12. Bijutoha

    Wow! Excellent, It inspired me so much. Many thanks for “Turn off the Internet”. Extreme collection ever. I think when we are alone with anything form inadequate things it helps everything as a pretty lame.

    One thing that, Do you write articles on Graphic Design such as Clipping Path, Image Masking, Drop Shadow and so far?

    Reply
    • Nina Amir

      No…sorry. I don’t write pieces on design.

      Reply
  13. Lucas Schaeffer

    I can tell you NOT drinking coffee is an excellent way not to get ANY work done. As a professional screenwriter, I can tell you unequivocally that caffeine is an essential part of the daily work life, if not the creative process itself. In TV writing rooms, we can be absolutely fetishistic about the choice of coffee beans, etc. And based upon my personal observations, the better writers most definitely drink alcohol socially and the majority occasionally; teetotalism is almost the exclusive purvey of agents, managers, and self-help types — not writers themselves.

    Reply
  14. Kathleen Pooler

    Excellent tips, Nina. It has amazed me how sedentary –and deleterious–the writing life can be so I really appreciate your focus on the mind-body connection. The butt needs to be out of the chair as well as in the chair. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Nina Amir

      I struggle with the butt out of the chair as well…I’m trying to stand and work–getting a standing desk. And I’ve started a new exercise routine!

      Reply
  15. James

    Hi Nina,

    Excellent, well written and highly helpful post. I love this phrase ‘ Change Happens in a Moment, Transformation Takes Time’; this is very much true.

    As a blogger, it has been my dream to publish a book about my knowledge on blogging and that of my profession ( I’m a geologist); but I jjust couldn’t understand why I’m causing such delay.

    I think point 1 on preparing one’s mind and body is what I really need to focus on and work on.

    Thanks for sharing this helpful post.

    James

    Reply
    • Nina Amir

      So glad you found this post helpful, James. The reason we aren’t following our dreams usually has more to do with what goes on in our mind than anything else. However, we need our body to create a clear and creative mind. I struggle with that part, but I’m working on it, too!

      Reply
  16. Diane Holcomb

    Great tips. I resonated with the advice to “be on purpose.” I’m a humor blogger, a book reviewer, a short-story writer and an author of women’s fiction. Kinda all over the place. It would help if I narrowed my focus to sharpen my identity. And then stick to activities that keep me on purpose, such as unsubscribing to any blogs/newsletters/whatever that don’t meet that purpose, no matter how wonderful they are.

    Reply
    • Nina Amir

      By always asking if what you are doing is on purpose, you will definitely move faster toward your goals.

      Reply
  17. Valorie Grace Hallinan

    This is an excellent, excellent article. I’m going to print it out, highlight it, and post it next to my desk.

    Reply
    • Nina Amir

      So glad you think so, Valorie!

      Reply
  18. Michael Kelberer

    Nice post Nina. What pulls me out of the deep most often are the Big Purpose ones (12-14, 19). Reconnecting with Why I’m doing this hard work gets me going. And there’s always the WIBBOW test (Dean Wesley Smith): Would I Be Better Off Writing :-)

    Reply
    • Nina Amir

      I love that…WIBBOW! Thanks, Michael. And, yes, WHY, is so important and drives most of us.

      Reply
  19. Ernie Zelinski

    Great advice for the vast majority of people. Not for me, however, since I violate practically all of these principles. Here is one principle I like:

    “Write drunk; edit sober.”
    — Ernest Hemingway

    And here are some other people’s important points of view to keep in mind if you would like to be a successful author:

    “If you want to be a writer — stop talking about it and sit down and write!’
    — Jackie Collings

    “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
    — Richard Bach

    “Writing is a profession in which you have to keep proving your talent to people who have none.”
    — Jules Renard

    “Nobody ever committed suicide while reading a good book, but many have while trying to write one.”
    — Robert Byrne

    “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambition. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
    — Mark Twain

    “Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth. Writing may be interesting, absorbing, exhilarating, racking, relieving. But amusing? Never!”
    — Edna Ferber

    “Writing a novel is like blowing up the Goodyear blimp by mouth — anyone can do it.”
    — Kurt Vonnegut

    “A blank page is God’s way of showing you how hard it is to be God.”
    — Unknown wise person

    “Book writing is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Anyone who decides to write a book must expect to invest a lot of time and effort without any
    guarantee of success. Books do not write themselves and they do not sell themselves. Authors write and promote their books.”
    — Dan Poynter

    “It’s better to do a sub-par job on the right project than an excellent job on the wrong project.”
    — Robert J. Ringer

    “You are never given a wish without the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”
    — Richard Bach

    “Writing a book is a tremendous experience. It pays off intellectually. It clarifies your thinking. It builds credibility. It is a living engine of marketing and idea spreading, working every day to deliver your message with authority. You should write one.”
    — Seth Godin

    Of course, the only way to know anything definitely about success and
    prosperity as a writer is to attain them for yourself by yourself — anything less is hypothesis, idle talk, and folklore.

    Ernie J. Zelinski
    The Prosperity Guy
    “Helping Adventurous Souls Live Prosperous and Free”
    Author of the Bestseller “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free”
    (Over 225,000 copies sold and published in 9 languages)
    and the International Bestseller “The Joy of Not Working”
    (Over 275,000 copies sold and published in 17 languages)

    Reply
    • Jason Matthews

      Excellent tips, Nina. Great collection, Ernie!

      Reply
      • Jason Matthews

        Interesting how writing about writing is such a lengthy topic. Do other professions and other arts spend as much time as writers discussing what they do and how they do it?

        Reply
        • Nina Amir

          I don’t know, Jason…but you need only look at the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield to know that artists in general struggle to get their work done.

          That said, becoming a high performer in any field requires much of what I outlined here. Check into Brendon Bouchard’s work and you’ll see this to be true. He’s fabulous on this topic, and I’ve learned a ton from him.

          Reply

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