It’s New Year! And chances are, you’ve decided to really buckle down this year and check all of your writing goals off of your master list.
But before you begin, let’s take a look at some ideas that can help you to become your most productive writer self.
What does it mean to be productive?
First, let’s define “productive” and understand what your level of productivity can be.
“Productive” has different definitions, but one most of us agree on is: “Achieving or producing a significant amount or result.”
Hang on. What about this qualifier: significant? What constitutes a “significant” amount?
Well, who you are and where you are in your life makes all the difference with regard to how much you may be able to produce.
Productivity means different things to different people at various times of their lives. If you’re a mom with small kids, working at your most productive level could be organizing your thoughts for a blog post while they nap. (Been there!) If you work a fulltime job, a stolen hour to write a chapter before your nine-to-five, is progress.
Everyone’s ability to produce is different, and someone else’s progress has nothing to do with you.
Let me repeat that: Someone else’s progress has nothing to do with you.
You do you.
Sometimes, we see our fellow authors producing large amounts of work. Good for them! Truly! Let’s give them a shout-out and cheer them on. That’s fabulous. For them. But it might not be where you are right now.
Just because they can produce a blog post a week and a book a month, plus fresh content on their Instagram daily, does not mean you have to. Nor does it mean you are a failure if you don’t.
Success is not measured by how much you achieve as compared to others.
Now that we have defined what being productive is, let’s explore how you can become your most productive writer self.
Before we delve into tips, read on. 😊
There is a story about the Buddha that all writers should know.
In a nutshell, (and I am paraphrasing here), one of Buddha’s disciples comes to him exhausted from his spiritual work. Buddha knows the man is an accomplished lute player and asks him if he strings his lute too tightly or too loosely, does it make a beautiful sound?
Both times the man answers no.
Buddha explains that a practice, like a lute, cannot be strung too tightly or too loosely. “A practice that is evenly tuned is like a lute that makes beautiful music.”
The same is true for our writing and creativity.
When we try to force our creative spark, we may find that our words are pushed and stilted, and that we become irritable and exhausted. Or worse, we may find that the more we force the words, the less they want to come.
On the other hand, if we simply wait around all day for the muse to visit, we may feel like we’re alone in a restaurant waiting for a blind date who never shows.
So? How do we find the middle then? The “Middle Way” as Buddha calls it?
It’s all about coming from a place of peace and wellness.
You cannot be your most productive if you are feeling stressed or exhausted. (The idea of a writer who smokes packs of cigarettes every day while downing a bottle of vodka is an old stereotype that it’s time we abandon!)
Wellness is key.
How do we incorporate wellness? Below are some action steps to help you use wellness to become your most productive writer self.
How to be your most productive writer self:
- Set aside a time to write
Even if it’s only 20 minutes. Whatever time you can spare. Committing to a time to work signals the brain to get onboard.
- Prioritize your writing
Maybe your writing doesn’t pay the bills yet. What does that matter? If you want to make 2023 your year to be productive, make writing a priority.
- Start fresh
My yoga teacher has a wonderful analogy: if you throw a stone into a raging ocean, you won’t hear the splash or see the stone again. But if you drop that same stone into a still pond, you’ll hear when the stone makes contact with the water, and see the ripples.
This is how our minds work. If you sit down to write with a million random thoughts swimming through your head, chances are, you won’t think clearly or see the brilliance of your work. You’ll sabotage yourself before you’ve had the chance to begin.
We want to begin our writing session by coming from a place of peace. How? We start with the breath. Simply close your eyes and take three cleansing breaths. Inhale deeply and exhale through your mouth.
- Calm your mind
In yoga, we call this our “Monkey Mind,” the endless loop that plays over and over in our brains. To calm it, after you complete your cleansing breaths, get out a piece of paper and write down everything that is nagging at you. Do you need to make a doctor appointment? Grocery shop? Whatever it is, leave it on the paper and do not carry it into your writing session.
- Have a clear idea of what you want from this writing session
Even if you’re a “pantster,” have an overall goal for your session. Why? When we don’t have clear goals, we tend to go down rabbit holes on social media, or we begin answering emails, and before we know it, our writing time is up.
It doesn’t need to be a detailed plan. Something as simple as: “Today I will write that next chapter,” works.
- Do not worry about how others write
I was a ghostwriter for a long time, and during that time, I had to become very good at creating detailed outlines for my clients. You know what? I found working in such a confined way was not conducive to my work. I felt stilted and what’s worse, more of my energy went into how I was going to do something than into creating the actual product!
The way you work does not have to be the way someone else works. Find your groove. Your way. And then honor it.
- Show up for yourself
You wouldn’t leave someone else’s project half-finished. Commit to yourself in the same way. Yes, it’s tempting to jump from project to project—we all do it. But we still have to circle around, come back, and finish. Tell yourself you (and your work) are worth your time and energy.
Likewise, before you tackle your writing project, make sure you are hydrated, not hungry (eat fresh, nutritious foods whenever possible), and well-rested. Try to move before you work. A yoga class or a walk in nature can make a big difference in your level of productivity.
- Get outside
If you can, before you begin writing, step outside. Touch a tree, go for a short walk, whatever you can do. Nature helps us clear our minds and focus.
- Understand that progress is moving forward toward your goals
Progress is moving toward your goals, not completing them. It really is about the journey. Celebrate every step that you take, and accept that being your most productive as a writer does not mean finishing everything immediately. You will be coming back to your computer, again and again.
- Finally, understand why you are writing something
Many of my coaching clients have answered this question as: “To make money.” Or: “To have a bestseller.” “To become famous.” “To see my book in Barnes and Noble.”
Guess what? None of these reasons will keep your fingertips glued to your keyboard during those times when you most want to quit. Why not? Because they are simply outcomes you hope will happen. In yoga it’s called, Aparigraha, (part of the 8 Limbs of Yoga) and it can mean attachment to the outcome.
To be your most productive self, write for reasons that make you feel healthy and well. Reasons that make your heart sing. Not for a paycheck. Not for glory. Write because you want to help people, because you have something to say, or because you can’t help but write.
Write for you, and your people will find you.
So, how can I be my most productive writer self in 2023 and beyond?
To be your most productive writer self, you have to practice wellness. How? By coming from a grounded and connected place, by showing up for you, writing in your way, and by having clear goals on why you are writing that have nothing to do with fame or money.
Get outside in nature, take a yoga class, clear your mind, and the words will come.
Trust yourself, enjoy the process, and decide that 2023 will be your healthiest most productive year yet. Because it can be. 😊
One thought on “How to Become a More Productive Writer”
Reblogged this on and commented:
Shared this today on My Crunchy Granola Yoga Journey.
Happy New Year!