picY

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
I can help them write their book and share their message… but I am not an authority on the rest of this… and you clearly are!

Alice Sullivan,
Editor and Ghost Writer
(Worked on nearly 1,200 titles
including 11 New York Times best-sellers)

Yoav developed such talent and knowledge with specific regards to book marketing that even with my background selling more than $30,000,000 in marketing consulting…I couldn’t hold a candle to his plans and insights […] If you’ve got even the smallest opportunity to work with him I highly recommend you grab it before it’s gone… you won’t be disappointed!

Dr. Glenn Livingston
www.GlennLivingston.com

this isn’t the first time I’ve seen something like this and mostly they sell the idea of making a million dollars overnight instead of dealing with the difficult issue that you’ve dealt with of how to stand out in the market place and actually create something that sells.

Chris Garrett
Chief Digital Officer at
Copyblogger Media
(Co-Author of ProBlogger:
Secrets for Blogging
Your Way to a Six-Figure Income)

I’ve learned how to think strategically about Amazon – I know that most authors understand the pivotal role Amazon has in the book marketing world, but I don’t think many authors understand how to approach Amazon in a strategic way.

Professor Dan Breznitz
Munk Chair of Innovation
Studies,University of
Toronto (Dan is the
author or coauthor of
several books on
innovation-based growth.)

How to Write More – 90 Authors Share Their Best Writing Habits and Productivity Tips

Let’s be honest … We all know that if we just put our delicate behinds in the chair and write – we will achieve our writing goals. It doesn’t matter if we’re working on the book we’ve always dreamt of publishing, a blog post or a doctoral thesis.

And yet, so many of us struggle to be more productive, overcome writers’ blocks or just simply finish this darn chapter already…

So… I’ve decided to find out how the big boys and girls do it.

I’ve interviewed 90 published authors and asked them about the habits they foster and the tools they use in order to produce at such a high level.

And this (rather large) guide is the result.

It contains over 60 techniques, tips and tools you can incorporate into your writing routine.

And they can dramatically increase your writing productivity.

But my advice is – go slow. Incorporate one or two tips a time, see if they work for you, and only then move on and incorporate a couple of new tips.

Important: This is an extremely long article, so I’ve created a PDF version which you can download and read later (download here).

Maintaining a Writing Schedule/Routine (50%)

This was by far the most common advice. Half of the interviewed authors swore that keeping to a writing schedule has boosted their productivity immensely and that this is the real key to being a successful author or writer.

Here are the tips they had in regards to establishing a writing routine and sticking to it:

  • Be proactive, not reactive – Don’t wait for writing time to magically appear. Schedule it into your day and stick to it.
  • Understand that writing is a physical discipline – Treat writing time the same way you’d treat an important meeting. Make sure to be there on time and once there – write.
  • Know when your brain is ready to write – Plan your writing schedule around your natural body and brain rhythms. No use fighting to write 1/2 a page in an hour at 8:00 AM when you could slam out 3 pages in that same timeframe if you wait until 10:00 PM.
  • To get maximum results force yourself to write – There are days you won’t feel like writing, or maybe you’re just not feeling well, but unless you are delirious, if you force myself to write anyway you’ll create a writing habit and that will take your productivity to the next level.
    And if you’re not feeling well, it’s OK to put down just a couple hundred words, but make it a habit to write every day.
  • There’s always time to write – Everyone is bombarded with tasks that can consume us. Most people use the excuse that they don’t have time to write a book, but yet they find time for sitcoms marathons. So if you feel like you don’t have time to write, think what you can eliminate from your schedule and write instead.
Contributing Authors: Dani Brown, Jeff Berryman, Amanda Hill, Scott Suthren, Marcus Herzig, Amanda L McCormick, David Prever, Matt Micheli, Virginia West, Arun Thaploo, Charles Avent, Deborah Gatchel, Lantz De Contreras, N.M. Catalano, Linda Hanley, Dennis Sharp

Getting Ready to Write and Writing Rituals (36%)

Another huge productivity booster that came up in the interviews was “writing preparations” – which makes so much sense…

When you have a clear idea of what you are going to write, it becomes that much easier to accomplish more during the writing session.

Here’s how the interviewed authors get ready to write:

  • Document your ideas throughout the day – Keep a small notebook with you because when those “random ideas” that pop up through the day are gone – they’re really gone! In a pinch, you can write things down on any scrap of paper -even on the back of receipts!
    Or you can use your mobile phone to send yourself an email or record your ideas.

    You can keep a “Rumination File” for every major writing project. And as ideas come to you (even long before you need to create something), you can just drop them into the file. Then when you are ready to sit down and work on your first draft, you already have detailed notes to guide your thinking. You can quickly see the trends and patterns that are emerging in your thinking. This will help you write a lot faster.

  • Learn to write in the dark – Keep a pen and paper beside your bed. But don’t turn on the light or open your phone so you won’t mess up your light/dark cycle. Disrupting your body’s natural rhythm by exposing your eyes to light in the middle of the night will result in poor sleep and will do more harm then good. But if you just write three words in the dark you’ll remember the idea on the following day.
  • Make sure you have everything you need before you begin writing – Your notes, the outline, coffee, the music you like – you don’t want the writing process to be interrupted unnecessarily
  • Have a ritual before you begin writing – It might be 10 minutes of meditation, drinking a cup of tea or taking a brisk walk outside. In any case a ritual works as a trigger for your mind and signals it that it’s time to get into writing mode.
  • Plan/Outline your writing – Outlines and To-Do Lists are great and keep your mind organized.
    Optimally, you’d create the To-Do List/Outline the night before so that you can sleep on your ideas for the next day.

    You can even use mind-mapping tools like Scrapple, FreeMind and XMind to create a complete mind map of your writing project.

    Planning your writing is so important I’m including the verbatim description of how one author (C.D Wilson) goes about it so you have a reference you can use:

    “During the planning/developing phase of a manuscript, I don’t do a lot of plotting. I do hit the high points: beginning scenes, the ending (or at least a vague idea of it), and a few highlights in the middle. When I sit down to write, though, it really helps for me to sort of pre-write the scene. Sometimes it’s just a sentence or two or a brief outline, and sometimes it’s a page or two of truncated dialogue and action. Whatever it is, having that outline for what I’m going to write next really bumps my writing speed, sometimes doubling it (over my “normal” writing speed).”

  • Play key scenes in your mind – Play key scenes in your head until you hear your characters speak and see what they do. Think of it as if you’re watching a TV version of your story in your mind.
    You can do this anywhere and everywhere. But … if you haven’t ‘played out’ the scene in your mind, you can do this just before you begin writing. That way you can follow the stream of consciousness. Try not to edit or think too hard about what’s happening, just write it down – you can always edit it later.

    One trick you can use is to play the scene out and wait for one of the characters to start talking and then just write down what they say.

  • Use whatever time you have to prepare – Even if your writing time is very limited. You can try to use other time (shower, car, when you lay in bed at 2am, etc) to plan out what you are going to write, so when you sit down to write you can just go!!!
  • Read every day – This is a fantastic way to generate ideas. Especially if you read great books.
  • Read what you’ve recently written – This helps you focus your thinking on the subject matter and can even result in new ideas.
  • Know your subject matter well – When you are passionate about a subject and know it well, the entire writing process becomes much easier and you’ll find that you are motivated to write.
  • Sleep and day dreams – This is a huge subject. It begins with getting enough sleep every night. Countless studies have shown that creativity declines dramatically when you don’t get enough ZZZs.
    On top of that, entering a state of daydreaming is a big key to unlocking your imagination. So instead of writing with your logical left hemisphere, you activate your creative right hemisphere by entering a ‘day dream’ state.

    And finally, in recent years a type of dreaming called ‘lucid dreaming’ has emerged as a technique to unlock the creative mind.

    When you induce a lucid dreaming state, you will be actually dreaming but at the same time you will be (at least somewhat) aware of dreaming and can affect the course of the dream. On top of that when you wake up, you will remember the dream.

    Having played around with lucid dreaming myself, I can tell you that it produces some really strange ideas. Sometimes they are good. And sometimes they are just plain STRANGE.The bottom line is … if you have time to learn about and implement lucid dreaming techniques, it will help you become more creative.

Click here to download the PDF version of this article (and other writing productivity tools).

Contributing Authors: Panda Johnson, Chad Hofmann, Tracy Stone Lawson, Tom Hopp, Dharlene Marie Fahl, Barbara Lenk Harrington , Jolene Cazzola, Tess Bowery, Meghan Scott Molin, Becky, Joy Kluver, Jeroen Steenbeeke, Virginia West, Arun Thaploo, Shyma Mohan, C.D. Watson, Craig A. Hart, Dab10, Elaine Calloway, Ellen Huxtable, Heidi Angell, Jill Tebbe, N.M. Catalano, Raj Bapna, Raul Candeloro, Sarah Sarnoff, Janice Dietert, Wanda Luthman, Brinda Ross, Alison Massey, J Stephen Peek, Dennis Sharp

The Writer’s Mindset (36%)

This section contains a lot of insights that were new to me.

Apparently, like athletes, to be at the top of your writing game, you have to have a very specific mindset.

Following are some very insightful suggestions on how to foster and maintain a high-performance writing mindset:

  • Don’t edit while writing – Write as much as you can and as freely as you can, revision is your book’s best friend and an editor its soul mate.
  • Don’t make excuses to not write – It’s easily done – “I don’t feel like it today” or “something else came up” it happens all the time this type of thinking is a real productivity killer. Even if you are not in the mood, get something down and tidy it up later!
  • Have fun writing – Write without worry or fear. Write with joy and wild abandon. There will be time for obsessing during the editing phase.
  • Think about the bigger picture and your career – Think of how the work you’re about to do fits into your book, series, future writing, career, personal development, relationships, branding – don’t overdo it but understanding that the words you’re about to put on paper will bring you closer to your goals can help motivate you.
  • Stop thinking – Sometimes writers overthink. If you are properly prepared then just stop thinking and let the words come.
  • Set achievable goals – Set realistic achievable goals that won’t demoralize you. Writing is solitary, so don’t psych yourself out by crazy goal-setting. Set yourself up to succeed. This way you’ll enjoy writing and become even more motivated.
  • Love your characters – A lot of writers complain about distractions, blocks, laziness and the like. But I have a simple solution that allows me to write thousands of words in one day: I love my characters.
    I love them as if they were friends and family standing here next to me. I allow them to enter my heart and grab hold. They become me and I become them. Once I start telling their story, I can’t stop because I care about them so much. I love them, in fact. I am genuinely concerned for their well-being, as if the threats to their world were a part of my own.
  • Work on multiple projects – Working on multiple projects will keep you from burning out on any particular project, and keeping your mind fresh by challenging it with multiple things at once. And if you get frustrated with one project, there’s always another you can feel good about, so it’s good for your self-esteem, which helps you stay productive.
    When you get stuck, (writer’s block), put aside whatever you are working on, and start a story of a different genre. If you are writing romance, “shift gears” and try your mind at romance, or horror, or whatever you wish to try. It doesn’t have to be a great piece of literature, it only has to get your mind away from your first story and keep you writing. It is important for your mind to get lost in something completely different, but that you keep writing, during your specified, set aside timeslot, each day.
  • Make writing seem like the preferred activity – Make sure there is some nasty house work that needs doing, and you’ll suddenly get filled with creativity and will be able to write for hours.
  • Feed the muse – Writing may be good for the soul but it’s bad for the waistline. No doubt about it. Find out what your muse likes and keep it handy. My Muse likes Chocolate, but your muse might have a different palate.
  • Meditate – Meditation calms the mind and lets you vividly hear your thoughts. Practicing meditation once a day will increase your productivity and creativity. And if you want an extra boost of productivity you can have a short meditation session (2 minutes or 20 breaths) before you begin writing.
  • Take a nap – I find a nap does wonders. It refreshes my mind and I often dream the next part of my book. And even if that doesn’t happen, I wake up refreshed and ready to tackle some writing. It has never failed me.
  • Listen to inspiring music – I like to listen to movie sound tracks, such as The Hobbit, Star Trek, Thor or other action packed movie. Just as the music stimulates me at the movies, it also stimulates my creativity and the words begin to fly on the page.
  • Don’t get angry at yourself – Even if you’re in a slump and the words aren’t coming. Doodle. Take a walk. Do crosswords… Just keep writing
  • Be kind to yourself – Your work may not be great or Nobel material, but it is yours. Accept that your voice will change and evolve, but it is still yours.
  • Change things up – As soon as your routine starts to feel stale change things up. I’ll dedicate a section of my office to fiction, and not do anything else in that spot. But when I notice my productivity starting to taper, I’ll relocate that spot to another part of the house. I may move it to the dining room, or even outside. Then that new spot is my writing zone, and everything seems fresh and new while I’m there. It’s a bit silly, but it works for me.
  • Dress business casual – I don’t sit around writing in my pajamas– well, okay sometimes I do, but when I’m on a deadline or otherwise need to produce a lot of words I dress up like I’m going into a traditional office. It keeps me focused and reminds me that at 4pm I get to call it a day, put on comfy clothes, and binge-watch Netflix.
  • Write a good book – When I enjoy my writing, when I’m proud of it, I want to keep on writing. If you feel that you’re doing good work you’ll be motivated to continue doing it and your productivity will increase.
  • Try to select writing projects passionate about – Make sure the topic of your project is something of Interest that you have a passion for. It’ll make writing ten times easier.

Click here to download the PDF version of this article (and other writing productivity tools).

Contributing Authors: Rebecca Bosevski, E.C. Jarvis, Claire Cock-Starkey, Brian Rathbone, Shannon, Chad Hofmann, Tracy Stone Lawson, Becky, Anniken Haga, Lali Zaibun-Nisa, Kep Lagrange, Virginia West, Simon Skiles, Anne E. Johnson, Charles Avent, Chloe Hammond, Craig A. Hart, Debbie Richardson, Deborah Gatchel, Ed Spina, Heather Kristian Strang, Jennifer Conway, Lantz De Contreras, Lory LaSelva Paduano, Muffy Wilson, Pam Garcia, Phoebe Wray, Rosalyn Stowell, Siff Daniels, Jared McVay, Jacqueline Jordan Brinda Ross

Timed Writing Sessions (3.5%)

I’ve been using this technique for ages and it’s extremely helpful.

This is because no matter how unmotivated you feel, writing for just 25 minutes is achievable. And more often than not, just the fact that I’ve begun writing changes my mood and motivation.

Here’s how our authors describe this…

  • Write in spurts – Also known as the “Pomodoro technique”. Set a timer for 25 minutes and focus only on your writing for that period of time. Then get up and walk around for 5 minutes, rinse and repeat. Following this plan you can raise your productivity enormously, and it’s also good for your health, because you’ll be moving more.
  • Use an actual timer – You can use a simple kitchen timer or download a free timer app.
  • Use a timer to get through a block – When you feel stuck. Set a timer and force yourself to write until the timer rings. It doesn’t have to be a long session 15-25 minutes can suffice. But force yourself to write and you’ll often find that you can break through a block that way.

Click here to download the PDF version of this article (and other writing productivity tools).

Contributing Authors: April Holec, Barbara Lenk Harrington, Charlotte R Dixon

Writing Accountability Groups and Partners (7%)

While I haven’t tried this one yet, it seems like a really good idea. Especially if you are competitive or motivated by other people…

  • Form relationships with other authors – Another thing I find that helps is accountability. Cultivate relationships with people who will hold you to your word. Also the process of working together can serve you later when you need other author’s help to promote your work.
  • Join a monthly writing challenge – This is a great way to get support and encouragement from other writers. Google “Monthly writing challenge” and you’ll find several challenges you can join.
  • National Novel Writing Month – This is a big commitment, but if you join NaNoWriMo you can write 50K words in 30 days.

Click here to download the PDF version of this article (and other writing productivity tools).

Contributing Authors: April Holec, Mattias Ahlvin, Amanda L McCormick, Dharlene Marie Fahl, Tunnel Typing, Devorah Fox

Setting Writing Goals (11%)

Goals are a double edged sword. If you rise up to the challenge and accomplish them, they will motivate you. But if you fail, they will demoralize you.

Here’s some advice from our authors on how to harness the power of goals to… well… achieve your goals:

  • Decide on a daily writing goal – Write a set amount per day. Don’t get intimidated by the size of the mountain you’re climbing; just keep moving.
  • Mark down your progress on your calendar – Write how many words you wrote for each day. This way you remind yourself that’s you’ve written for X days straight. It’s a huge motivational boost!
    Additional bonus – Put the calendar on the wall besides your computer. This works very well for motivation/shame.
  • Don’t go to bed until you’ve met your daily word count – This way, even if you’re terrible about keeping an actual schedule you’ll still achieve your daily goals.
  • Set realistic goals you can easily achieve – If you’re pressed for time (30-60min), set a 200 word goal. A full day is 500 words. Your numbers might be lower or a lot higher – but remember you want to create a sense of achievement and consistency, so try to set very achievable goals for yourself.
  • Set goals that won’t demoralize you – If your daily word count is too high that can easily demoralize you and prevent you from writing altogether. Writing is solitary, so don’t psych yourself out by crazy goal-setting. Goal could be time-in-seat, target word count, a chapter, not web-surfing, ignoring all chores – whatever it takes. Start small.
  • Treat writing like a job you like doing – Not like a hobby. You can’t decide not to do it. But still remember that you like it and do it joyfully.

Click here to download the PDF version of this article (and other writing productivity tools).

Contributing Authors: Rebecca Bosevski, Rob Kroese, LKid, Amanda L McCormick, Jolene Cazzola, Marnie Vinge, Deanna Repose Oaks, K. Gorman, Kep Lagrange, Rosalyn Stowell

Avoid and Overcome Distractions (12.5%)

This is another huge factor for me. I’ve used many of the techniques described here and have benefited tremendously from them:

  • Limit your social media time/TV time and write instead – Give yourself half an hour a day for social media and/or TV. Your productivity will be exponentially improved.
  • Stay off social media while writing – It might seem obvious given the previous tip, but it’s worth saying again… Just turn it off!!!
  • Don’t multitask – When you are in writing mode just write. Don’t do anything else.
  • Close every window that’s not relevant to the writing project – Browsers, Social media, calendar, chats – everything. Only your research and the word processing tool of your choice should remain open.
  • Use software tools to block internet and social media access during writing time – There are several tools that do that. We’ll cover those in the tools section.
  • Don’t check your email or any other messaging service during the writing period – If you implement the 25 minute writing session tip then you can check emails during the breaks. But not while writing!
  • Close your phone – If you’re an EMT or on-call from the hospital than you obviously can’t, but most writers can close their phone for 25 minutes (or however long your writing session is).
  • Get the cats of the keyboard – Their writing isn’t all that good.
  • Finding an environment conducive to concentration – Working in a coffee shop might be fun because you get to see real live people. But it might not be the best place to concentrate.
  • Use headphones – If you can’t block out noise in your environment, you might consider using a set of headphones to accomplish this. You can listen to music from your favorite artists – or if the lyrics prevent you from focusing on your own words than you can listen to classic music, soundtracks of your favorite movies or just ambient music (tip: search for ‘inspirational music’ on YouTube and you’ll find hours of decent music without lyrics).
  • Keep a tidy workspace – For some people clutter is a major distraction. If you’re one of those people, tidy up before you begin working.

Click Here to download the PDF version of this article (and other writing productivity tools).

Contributing Authors: Marcus Herzig, Rosanna Bates, Barbara Lenk Harrington, Lea Doue, Kep Lagrange, Charlotte R Dixon, Claudette Melanson, Jennifer Conway, Raul Candeloro, Stella Marie Alden, Tanesha’s Childrenchatbooks

The Writing Process (17%)

I was totally unaware of the techniques described here and I have to admit, they’re pretty awesome…

  • Settle into a pre-writing meditative state – one way to kick off the writing process is to get into a pre-writing meditative state and think about the scene/chapter you have planned to write and the characters involved. If you’re a fiction writer, wait for someone in the cast to start talking, and write down what they say. Follow the stream of consciousness, don’t try to edit or think too hard about what’s happening.
  • Stop writing in the middle – If you stop writing when you hit a scene break or a chapter break, it’s too easy to leave it. Keep writing into the next scene/chapter, even if it’s just a single sentence. Then your brain will chew on what happens next until you come back and write it down. This will speed up your writing because the ideas would have been brewing in your brain for a while. But if you stop at a break? You risk losing momentum and creating a block.
  • Try to write about something unrelated to your story – You can write about your morning or your feelings about an argument. You can explain what woke you and how you felt when your eyes opened etc. This helps tap into human emotion and transfer that to your characters. So when you start writing your story you can easily adapt to the moments and emotions no matter how strong or moderate.
  • Work on several writing projects at the same time – That way, even If you don’t feel like working on your current project, you can switch to another one.
    While immersed in your new project, a great idea, for the project you became stuck on, will just “pop into your head”, and you can go back to it.
  • Jumpstart your imagination – If you dread the scene you ‘have’ to write next, odds are, your reader will yawn when reading it. So, get up. Clean the oven, take walk, and brush your teeth. While you do something else, think of a way to change up what needs to go on the page. Turn the scene on its head. Swap POV or figure out a twist. You’ll find when you do this that you cannot wait to get back to the laptop and knock out your new (improved) scene.
  • You don’t have to start at the beginning – Even when you’re writing a novel, you don’t have to start at page 1 and continue to the last page. Write whatever “scene” pops into your mind as quickly as possible without bothering to edit it. Then save it with a descriptive file name. Later, you can edit and place your various scenes into a logical order in your book.
  • Take the persona of the character – Lately I’ve been laughing my head off as I take on the personae of the characters be they animal, vegetable or mineral! This allows me to see the world from their eyes and usually helps me get over whatever block I might have.
  • Write what you would like to read – Write from your heart. And start.
  • Allow yourself to change your mind – Change is a reflection of inspiration. A new perspective. Don’t be a slave to the word count.
  • Respect your work – Name your work immediately and give it life, honor, position, credibility, purpose. You’ve started!
  • Stimulate your mind with music – Another way to boost productivity is to listen to movie sound tracks, such as The Hobbit, Star Trek, Thor or other action packed movie. Just as the music stimulates you at the movies, it also stimulates your creativity and the words will begin to fly on the page.

Click here to download the PDF version of this article (and other writing productivity tools).

Contributing Authors: Dani Brown, Tracy Stone Lawson, Tess Bowery, Brandon Banks, Virginia West, Anne E. Johnson, Charles Avent, Eden Connor, Ed Spina, Haley Gray, Laraine Selbie, Muffy Wilson, Pam Garcia, Siff Daniels, Wanda Luthman

Writing Productivity Tools (9%)

  • Scrivener – Scrivener is a tool that was created with the writer in mind. It includes almost everything you could wish for, from a mind-mapping brain-storming tool to an easy to use binder to keep related documents to a system to track word count and goals.
  • Browsing blockers – You can use tools such as Freedom and StayFocued to restrict or totally block internet access so you can focus on writing
  • Dictaphone with rechargeable batteries – So you can record your thoughts on the go and use these brilliants ideas when you sit down to do the actual writing.
  • Automatic Transcription Tools – This is a killer writing productivity tool. Using a transcription software can increase your word count from 500 to 1000 words per hour into 6000 words per hour. You can use Dragon Naturally Speaking or you can use a free tool. To find a free tool just Google “online transcription software” and you’ll find a couple of surprisingly useful tools.
    This technology is truly transformative because it allows you to record yourself when you’re not at your desk and then upload the recording into the transcription software and it will transcribe your recording for you.

    So not only does this technology allow you to write 5-10 times faster but it also allows you to write when you’re not at your desk. I strongly recommend that you check it out. By the way, this entire paragraph was written by a free transcription software in less than a minute!!!

Contributing Authors: Tess Bowery, Josie Jaffrey, Deanna Repose Oaks, Charlotte R Dixon, Dab10, Laraine Selbie, Naomi Kuttner, Pat Sibley

How to double your writing productivity

There you have it, over sixty tips on how to dramatically improve your writing productivity.

However, this might actually be too much information.

So…

In order to help you quickly improve your productivity, I’ve created a Writing Productivity Action Toolkit, which includes:

  • A PDF version of this article – which you can download and return to later
  • The Writing Productivity Tools Cheat Sheet – Which includes the links to the best writing productivity tools
  • The 80/20 writing productivity shortcut – Shows you the handful of writing productivity habits you should incorporate into your routine to double your writing productivity.

You can download the Writing Productivity Action Toolkit Here.