Productivity for Writers

Or maybe it’s writers for productivity. Who the hell knows. Oh, wait – Jane Cui, the writer of the following article, does. Man, does she know:

Lunin1030 Accomplished Writers Reveal Their Productivity Secrets
by Jane Cui

This is probably not the first productivity article that you have read. You probably have seen countless lists telling you tips like “Don’t go on facebook!” or “don’t check your email!”

But the real key to productivity is not about little tricks or one-day-stints. It’s about working consistently even if you don’t feel like it, or you’re too tired, or you have to take care of children. It’s difficult, but not impossible to create a system for works. You can do it, because these writers (who are human, just like you) have done it.

When you read their responses, you will find out that their motivations and schedules are as different as their line of work. But what connects them all is their cultivated system for accomplishing their goals.

Here’s what some accomplished writers say about how they stay productive and manage their time.

Christine Nolfi

Christine Nolfi is the author of Treasure Me and other fiction novels. In her blog, she writes articles on how to publish a book, and tips for new writers. Website:Christine Nolfi


What is your motivation to sit down everyday and write?

Meeting deadlines and producing great copy became second nature. As my publishing career bloomed, finding the motivation became easier. There’s nothing like fan mail to keep a novelist hungering to write the next book!

How do you keep a regular writing schedule?

I’m a bit like the Marines: up at dawn and writing creatively until early afternoon. Then I break to go to the gym. After an hour-long workout, I return home to edit the morning’s pages, connect with readers, chat on social media and work on marketing tasks. Then I break again to walk my dog on Charleston’s gorgeous boulevards.

Writing is a solitary, sedentary career, and I can’t emphasize enough the importance of building exercise into the daily workflow. I find it disheartening to attend conferences and find that many of the most successful scribes are obese. It’s no way to live. To anyone planning to become a career novelist I’d point out the obvious: those of us capable of producing great fiction over decades are as serious about nurturing our bodies as our craft.

What do you do to increase productivity and avoid procrastination?

Perhaps it’s easier for independently published novelists to avoid procrastination because we’re able to write the books we want to write. Nothing spurs creativity like a story that fires one’s imagination. I hear a great deal about writer’s block, something I’ve never experienced, and I suspect some writers are simply struggling with mechanics.

It takes time to learn the craft of writing, how to compose a story in a compelling fashion, create interesting characters and write crisp dialogue. Many career novelists share an observation: the process gets easier with each novel produced. I’m about to publish Four Wishes, my sixth novel, and I’ve written many others that sit dusty and unloved on a bookshelf. So don’t despair. A great deal of procrastination is rooted in a beginner’s need to learn the mechanics of storytelling.

Adam M. Grant

Adam Grant is the youngest tenured professor at the Wharton School of business. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success. Adam writes about work motivation, and helping and giving behaviors. Website: Give and Take

Rewritten with permission from Dorie Clark’s Forbes Article

What is your motivation to sit down everyday and write?

I start a lot of things and purposely leave them unfinished. We have a better memory for incomplete, rather than complete, tasks. Complex tasks are often better handled in the back of our mind, and that’s often true of creative tasks. I’ll start working, put it aside, and sometimes I’ll wake up the next morning with a solution, or I’ll find one when I exercise. If I finish a paragraph when I’m writing, it takes a while to get back to where I left it three days earlier. But if I left a sentence unfinished, more often than not, I can literally dive right back into where I was.

How do you keep a regular writing schedule?

For writing, I can sit down for 15-30 minutes and plant the seeds of an idea. I actually write every single day for at least 15 minutes based on that. Then I let the material sit for 2-3 weeks, which allows me to get enough distance to edit the piece.

What do you do to increase productivity and avoid procrastination?

I use every minute. If it is 9:52 am and the next meeting starts at 10, most people slack off and do nothing for 8 minutes. But instead, I will say, ‘Let’s see how much progress we can make.’ I have lots of micro-goals of trying to get things done, whatever the amount of time available….

Read it all at Focus A Lot