Month: March 2017

7 Ways To Become A More Productive Writer

In the past year I’ve published over 100 short stories on Amazon.  I’ve also blogged from time to time.  This may seem like a heavy work load, but it’s not if you manage your time and stay consistent.  Here are few tips to help your writing output if you’re feeling stuck…

Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro Technique is time management method where there is work intervals of 25 minutes followed by 5 minute breaks.  I use this method every time I write because it helps me get into a flow.

My word count increases every work interval.  The first 25 minute interval I may only be able to get 200 words but by the fourth interval I’ll be up to at least 500 or more.  It also helps to have short breaks between working intervals to prevent burnout.

There are plenty off places online where you can download a Pomodoro timer, I use an app called Focus Keeper.

Get Disconnected

I use to block certain sites online, but now I just turn off the Wifi.  Getting lost on the internet is the biggest killer to being a productive writer.

It starts out innocent.  You go on the internet to do research for your latest post, but hours later your watching compilation videos on Youtube.  We’ve all been there.

Don’t give yourself the option.  Turn off your Wifi.  If you need to do research for your blog or book just make a note of it and do it after when your editing.

Also, put your phone on airplane mode.  You don’t need to be taking calls and texts while your writing.

Rough Drafts

Pick up a pen and paper and make an outline of what you plan to write.  Don’t go in blind.

  It doesn’t have to be a full on draft, just scribble down some notes so you have an idea of what you want to communicate.

For my short stories I write the general plot.  Usually it’s only a few sentences.  I also write down names of characters and describe the setting.

You will be able to save a lot more time and prevent writer’s block when you have somewhat of a plan mapped out.

Go For A Walk

I get the best ideas for stories/posts during or after exercising.  Why?  I’m not going to give you some bro science explanation because I really don’t know why.  It just works.

And it doesn’t just work for me.  It also works for Henry David Thoreau who once said “Methinks that the moment my legs began to move, my thoughts began to flow.”

If it’s a good enough for Thoreau than it’s a good enough for you.

Free Flow, Avoid The Edit

Don’t stop to edit your writing.  Save the editing for later.  This is advice that I don’t always follow myself but should.

When you go back and reread every sentence you can’t get into a flow.  Achieving a flow state is important when it comes to being more productive as a writer.  You want nice bursts where your fingers are pounding on the keys and your mind is blank.

Get Rid Of Shame   

Being ashamed of your writing is useless and won’t get you anywhere.  Write as if no one will ever read it.  Write for yourself.

Second guessing yourself will interrupt flow.

Treat It Like A Job

Writing may not be your job but you should still treat it like one.  Set aside a part of the day that will be dedicated to writing and nothing else.  An hour will do.

Don’t wait for inspiration to strike.  Inspiration is amateur hour.  Just stare at the blinking cursor in the left hand corner till you’re so bored that you begin typing.  Some days your writing will be gold.  Some days your writing will be complete shit.  It doesn’t matter, as long as you show up.

You can also set word counts each day.  When your starting out it’s better to shoot low.  Steve Pressfield goes by “200 crappy words a day.”  The idea is to set a small goal to trick yourself to show up even when motivation is not there.

The Low Information Diet

Just as modern man consumes both too many calories and calories of no nutritional value, information workers eat data both in excess and form the wrong sources – Tim Ferriss

Last night I binged watched youtube videos about how globalist elites are taking over the Western World by destroying the patriarchy.  A mild curiosity turned into a dirty high quickly.  A part of me knew I should stop watching, but I couldn’t.  After one video ended there was a list of related videos that seemed to be calling my name.  Am I any better for watching these videos?  No.  If anything I left feeling more angry and jaded.

Let’s face it your probably doing the same thing.  You may not be binge watching youtube videos about the destruction of the patriarchy, but I bet your taking in information that is irrelevant, unimportant, and unactionable to your life.  The only reason you found this blog post was because you were mindlessly surfing the web instead of doing work.  Don’t lie.

Do yourself a favor.  Observe the information you take in today whether it be through something you read or something you watch.  Ask yourself – is this information relevant to my life?

When you become mindful of the information you are taking in you will realize that most of it is a complete waste of your time.  It’s empty calories, intellectual junk food.

Here are somethings to cut out if you find yourself becoming addicted to useless drivel:

The News:  Have you not realized that the news, like every other tv channel, is there to turn a profit.  The purpose of the news is not to report what is fair and balanced, it’s entertainment.  It’s all about ratings.  The more eyeballs glued to the tv means more advertising money.  They hook you by sensationalizing stories.   Internet news sites are not much better.  I can hear you saying “but how will I stay an informed citizen without the news?”  Let’s face it your not watching the news to stay informed your watching the same way you watch any other shitty reality tv show.

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media:  Even worse than the news.  Social media is just billions of people vying your attention.  Don’t give it to them.  There is no reason to be looking at cat pictures from a girl you briefly interacted with in college.

Mindlessly surfing the web:  I’m guilty of this far to often.  Don’t get caught in this trap.  It’s a reaction to boredom.  Pick up a book instead.

Last night I reread the 4 Hour Workweek, specifically the section on the low information diet.  Tim Ferriss suggests taking a one-week media fast.

Here are his guidelines:

No newspaper, magazine, audiobooks, or nonnumeric radio  Music is permitted at all time.

No news websites or news in general.

No television at all, except for one hour of pleasure viewing each evening.

No reading books, except for and hour of fiction pleasure reading prior to bed.

No web surfing unless it’s necessary for work task.

I’m choosing selective ignorance.  I will attempt to fast from the media for at least one week.

Will I be able to stay strong? Or will I fold like a cheap suit?

My New 30 Day Challenge

The 30 day challenge.  You have probably heard of it by now.  The idea behind the 30 day challenge is to perform an activity everyday for 30 days until it becomes a habit.  e.g. You drag yourself to gym for 30 straight days in hopes that it forms the new habit of going to the gym regularly.

I don’t know if there is any statistical data that actually backs this up.  It may just be a marketing gimmick created by self help gurus.  With that said, I will be attempting a 30 day challenge of my own.

My challenge is to write at least one blog post each day for the next 30 days starting today.  My only requirements for a blog post is that it has at least 200 words.  200 words may seem like a meager amount, but I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew.  I will go by the advice of “200 crappy words a day.”  I believe I got this from Steven Pressfield’s War of Art.  The idea is to set a small easily reachable goal just to get your ass in the seat and writing.  Small goals or “small chunking” prevent burnout.

Why am I doing this?

1. This isn’t my first blog.  I’ve had a few blogs in the past, but have lost interest with them.  I’m attempting this 30 day challenge with the hopes that I form a habit of becoming a more consistent writer.

2.  I enjoy writing.  The problem is getting myself to sit down and actually write.   I dread the thought of writing.  It’s only when I sit down and start typing I remember why I enjoy it.  Stating my goals to the World (or all 3 of you reading) will hold me more accountable to continue writing.

3. Stephen King said “I write to find out what I think.”  I couldn’t agree more.  When I start writing I have an idea of what I want to communicate, but as I continue my original idea takes on a new form.  I can often figure out solutions to problems that I otherwise would be ignorant to.

4.  It’s a free hobby that’s better than binge watching Netflix, vicariously living through a sports team, or excessive drinking.  Writing opens my mind up to new ideas and forces me to use my brain.  Writing is about becoming a producer rather than a mindless consumer.

Will I stick with this 30 day challenge?  Or will I lose interest and let this blog fade into the oblivion of the internet?

Only time will tell…

No Man Is An Island

I’m an introvert.  I value my alone time.  But too much alone time is good for no one.  This has become glaringly obvious since I moved to a new city seven months ago.

I’ve become a hermit.  The brutal winter hasn’t help.  My current job as a writer, lends itself to social isolation.  Overall, I just haven’t been able to meet that many people.  And most certainly haven’t been able develop any worthwhile friendships.

The result of this social isolation hasn’t been pretty.  My social skills, which weren’t great in the first place, are further deteriorating.  Even in simple conversation I notice myself becoming weird and aspergery.   

In part, I have done this to myself.  In the last five years, I have been jumping from place to place chasing phantoms.  Most friendships over those years were  short lived.  I have lost contact with old friends, and haven’t made any real attempt to rekindle them even when they have.

If you think this is my way of gaining pity points.  It’s not.  It’s a warning.  If you feel yourself falling into a pit of social isolation nip it in the bud.  Get out and make some real friends or rehash old friendships.  Don’t become the hermit.  There is nothing romantic in being the lone wolf.  No man is an island.

In prison the highest form of punishment is solitary confinement a.k.a “the hole.”  This means prisoners would rather be around rapists and murders than left to themselves.  If that doesn’t show you how much we need other people than I don’t what will.

Start Doing Nothing

After reading this post turn your computer or smartphone off.  You have been mindlessly surfing the internet for too long.  Trust me, nothing you read on Facebook will have as much of an impact on your life than the advice I’m about to give you.

Find a quiet place.  Sit down.  Do nothing.

For some this may seem like torture.  Even the mere thought of being away from one’s smartphone for 5 minutes is enough to induce a panic attack in the average westerner.

But trust me you’ll be just fine.

Just sit there letting thoughts pass.  There is no need trying to stop them. They may be loud at first but over time they will be like the faint sound of birds outside your window.  Soon there may even be silence.

Now stop wasting time and start doing nothing.