The Life of a Super-Productive Writer

In this broad and deep look at the Productivity ABCs—attitude, biology, and choices—we’ve considered many of the roadblocks that keep us from “cranking it out.”

Every writer is different and brings with him, into his writing life, a unique set of roadblocks. Only you can determine what those are, the ways that might work to crash through them or hack around them, and the lifelong adjustments you may need to make to become the super-productive writer you long to be.

Who Is That Writer in the Mirror?

I want to talk about your self-image for a moment. In the introduction, I mentioned that you’re not really an author in the professional or career sense until you publish a book. But even before you get “there,” it’s important to see that goal, that finish line.

If you haven’t finished writing that first book, fix it in your mind that you’re a productive writer. See yourself as a professional, not an amateur. Everything you do should be with that mind-set, and with the ultimate goal before you.

If you’ve already published a book or two, you still need to adjust your thinking. You want to be a highly successful, highly productive writer, so picture what that looks like. Can you imagine writing and publishing two or three books a year, every year? Maybe you envision five or six.

Whatever your ultimate dream is, let it be a positive thought and motivating force to get you there.

Fear Not

I have editing clients who have written a few novels, but those manuscripts are just lingering in a folder on their computer. These writers are not taking those next steps to publish. This isn’t an issue of money—waiting until they can pay to have the books edited.

This is really about fear. And fear leads to things like procrastination, making excuses, striving for “perfect,” and succumbing to endless distractions.

One of the toughest and most important attitudes writers need to master is summed up in the famous words of Franklin Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

When we work from a place of fear, it infects every aspect of our life.

I recall one of my high school teachers lecturing us graduating students, describing how most people go through life “content to taste the broth and never bite into the steak.” That line stuck with me all these years, and it reminds me of another observation I heard somewhere: “Some people live for eighty years, but they’re really only living the same year over and over eighty times.” Which implies that those people aren’t really living. They’re not stretching themselves, taking risks, trying new things. They are doing the same old, same old, and, frankly, that’s a sad thing.

Why do I say it’s sad? Because life is short, and if we let fear hold us back from exploring all the many things we’ve longed to do, that’s a tragedy.

I’m not talking about a bucket list here. Who wants to wait until she’s old and feeble to climb Half Dome in Yosemite or drive cattle across Wyoming? Don’t put off writing until you are too old (or dead) to write.

Maybe you don’t think you have any fear when it comes to writing. But then, why aren’t you cranking out books? Why aren’t you super productive? I’m guessing it’s because you’re afraid of something.

Just Too Busy to Write

I hear some of you saying, “I’m not afraid. I just have no time.” Well, we’ve seen how that is often an excuse for not writing. We’ve seen how plenty of writers, working more than full-time, and some with huge challenges in their health or responsibilities, have carved out time to do what they love. Maybe they don’t “crank” out books, but they do get their books written.

So if you’re saying you have no time to write, and you’re not making this excuse because you’re just unmotivated to be a writer, then maybe it is fear. You may be afraid that if you co-opt time for writing, other areas of your life may suffer. Your family may end up hating you. Your husband will leave you. Your chores will pile up. You’ll have a nervous breakdown.

I get all that. But these fears, grounded or not, have to be faced if you want to be a writer. Sure, it may take some time, some trial and error, to come up with a good schedule that won’t adversely affect the rest of your life. And you may have to tweak that schedule from time to time. I do, all the time.

If you really want to be a productive writer, don’t let those excuses stop you.

If You Truly Can’t Crank Out Books

I want to be clear here, again: some people have ginormous obstacles to being productive. They have health issues, or they’re full-time caregivers, or they have mental, emotional, or situational challenges that are not easily conquered.

I hope, if you fall into this group, you’ve learned some helpful tips to maximize what precious little writing time you can steal away. I hope, if you’re plagued with some of the aforementioned attitudes or habits, that you’ve learned some useful ways to best them to help make those brief writing experiences fulfilling.

My words to you are these. Find joy in those moments, but don’t expect yourself to produce like those who have few valid excuses for not writing. Try to find a strong sense of fulfillment in the effort, and if you don’t think you can crank out books in the near future, consider cranking out blog posts, which can be as short as three hundred words. Or crank out some short stories.

If writing is your passion, don’t smother it. Eke out those moments to write, grabbing your “weird” time opportunities. You have insights and experiences to share through your writing, and you probably know better than I do how therapeutic and comforting writing can be. You have an audience waiting to hear what you have to say, so don’t quit. Make writing, somehow and in some way, a part of your life.

Make It So, Number One

When Captain Picard of the starship Enterprise was ready to zoom off on some mission, he would look at Commander Riker and say, “Make it so, Number One.”

Every time you sit down to write, you are in the captain’s chair, facing a wide-open, endless, limitless universe of potential. Isn’t that thrilling? Think about it—the sky’s the limit when it comes to writing. You can write anything you can imagine. Doesn’t that excite you? That excites me!

As we age, we seem to lose our awe. We get sucked into the daily grind and weighted down by life’s responsibilities. We forget what it feels like to throw off our shoes on a whim and run through a meadow barefoot. Or run off a dock and leap in the air, shivering as we splash down into the cold mountain lake water.

We can recapture the sense of awe whenever we sit down to write, if we would just tell ourselves, “Make it so, Number One.”

It’s all up to you to examine your Productivity ABCs and make the course corrections that will lead you to the stars and beyond. May you write long and prosper!

AND IF YOU ARE A NOVELIST . . . if you’re NOT in my email Fast Track group, you need to join. You get free books, special offers, lots of help to fast track you to success! If you are already on my mailing list, all you have to do is click on the “update your preferences” link at the bottom of any email blast from me and click “JOIN” for the Fast Track group. No participation required.

To join my mailing list and get in the group, click HERE. Or click on the link on the right to get my free Strategic Planning for Writers ebook (and when you enter your email, click on JOIN for the Fast Track group).

If you are serious about success, you need all the help you can get. You need to filter out all the noise and distractions and spend your time wisely, focusing on what will truly help you reach your goals.


Regardless of whether you write fiction or nonfiction, if you want to get established as an author, you need to be productive. Highly productive.

You can’t just write one terrific book and call it good, expecting that singular work to carry you atop the wave of success for years to come.
Studies show readers want 3-4 books a year from their favorite authors. And to build traction and a growing audience, authors need to deliver.

The key to being highly productive is centered on knowing yourself. First you need to identify your distractions, excuses, and attitudes that are keeping you from being the productive writer you want to be. Then you need to assess your unique biology, to determine the best times to write and to optimize your sleep and eating habits. It’s all here in Crank It Out!

Get your ebook or print copy HERE.

Turn your life and career around by learning the surefire way to be the super-productive author you long to be!

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One Comment

  1. Thank you for your uplifting post. I’m a Fast Track member, and I enjoy all of your posts, articles, and other goodies. I struggle with fear and emotional issues. I recently hired a writing coach with whom I’ve had one excellent session. I need her support, encouragement, knowledge, and accountability. I agree that we need to do as much as we possibly can to empower ourselves and move our writing in the direction we want to go.

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