Bottom line: before you can be a super-productive writer, you have to want to be. I’m guessing you do, because you’re reading this material. And that’s great.
Some authors write every day; they feel they have to. And maybe finding time to do so isn’t an issue. Others write sporadically, sometimes putting writing off for months, for whatever reasons. But how frequently you sit down to write, or how many words you write a day, doesn’t necessarily correlate to how much you produce.
Plenty of authors who hardly have an hour to write a week put out more books a year than some authors who write all day every day. And while being a “fast” writer may imply you can crank out more books than a “slow” one, that’s also not necessarily the case (I put those words in quotes because fast and slow are a matter of perspective.)
Do you recall the fable of the tortoise and the hare? Who won the race? We’ll talk about all this later on.
So, time does not equal productivity. The trick is to get the most “productive” bang from each minute you write or engage in any writing-related activity.
You may have a picture in your mind of what success looks like to you—and that picture includes having numerous published books that sell well. You may have already written a book or a dozen books, but perhaps you’re not feeling productive.
You may argue that too many things are vying for your time, and you can’t get into a schedule and mind-set to produce on a regular basis.
This is the challenge for just about every writer, and it’s nothing new. Creatives of all types, throughout the centuries all across the globe, have had to figure out a way to carve out the time for their creative pursuits. Much of the time, creative people have to work other jobs to support themselves. Not all of us have the luxury of devoting huge chunks of time to our writing.
Yet, surely you’ve heard of many writers who’ve “cranked out” books while working full-time. Or raising and homeschooling a passel of kids. I know one writer who’d penned six award-winning novels in that many years, wrote and published about six hundred magazine articles a year, while raising and homeschooling six kids under the age of ten (at that time). Not sure why six is a constant here, but it is.
Was I astonished? You bet. Jealous? Oh yeah. I, who many consider crazy productive, felt like a worm when I learned about this author. How in the heck did she manage all that? She must be a genius (well, she is, with multiple advanced college degrees in subjects that would blow your mind).
Okay, I chalked it up to her being an exception. An unusually organized person. Maybe borderline (or beyond?) neurotic. A type AAA personality that would make my type A look like a wet noodle. No one can be productive like that. Or practically no one.
Or so I thought.
Super-Productive Writers Are Just Crazy, Right?
I’ve gotten to know a number of super-productive authors. They each have published more than one hundred books, many of them best sellers. Many of them long, deep books—not eight-page picture books for children.
These authors also find time to teach, raise kids, conduct workshops, tour, go fishing or play golf, keep up a blog, teach online courses . . . and the list goes on.
What I learned about these authors that surprised me is this: they’re not neurotic. They’re not obsessed, foregoing sleep, burning the candle at both ends until they melt into a puddle of wax. They’re actually quite balanced and level-headed. They show no hint of madness—as far as I can tell (other than the usual creative madness).
So, what’s their secret?
I’m going to share some identifiers of productive writers with you. But keep this in mind as well: everyone is different, and what works for one writer may not work for you.
My aim in tackling this topic is to give you as much helpful insight into productivity as possible so you can become the highly productive writer you dream of being.
We’re going to look into attitude, habits, hacks, and practical steps you can take to squeeze as much productivity out of you as possible without making you crazy. They’re the ABCs of success.
If you want to be a successful writer, you have to be productive. It’s that simple.
So get ready to learn some cool things and be open to making adjustments in your attitude and schedule and habits.
I believe every writer can become a productive one, and that being productive brings great rewards. We feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment when we publish a book and send it out into the world to readers. But we feel an even greater satisfaction when we crank those books out and repeatedly thrill our audience that is eagerly awaiting our next masterpiece.
An Important Consideration
I don’t want to ignore this one important point, though: some writers have huge challenges. Some suffer from chronic illness. Some are caring full-time for a loved one. Some have mental challenges. While it’s possible a writer with tough challenges might never crank out books, there are ways for her to at least be more productive during those coveted writing times.
It’s not helpful to lay on the guilt if you know you’re unable to produce like so many other writers. We should all find joy in our writing, regardless of whether we write ten books or only ten pages a year. However, I believe every writer can benefit from exploring these productivity ABCs. Only know your circumstances and abilities. So take this journey with me and see what works for you.
Ready to get cranking? Next Monday, we’ll look at the first big chunk we need to break into grist for the mill: attitude.
How’s your attitude? What attitude of yours gets in your way to becoming super productive? Share in the comments.