Monday, October 5, 2009

Five Tricks For Writing More Productively

By Meggin McIntosh

Have you ever thought about writing - planned to write - but somehow just weren't getting to it? Sometimes it takes a little trick or two (and some wisdom) to get moving on our writing projects. Here are five tricks that you may find useful (as I have):

1. Write early or write late. One is not better than the other in general, but one is likely to be preferable for you. Figure that out, then target and protect that time for your writing. Very early or very late work quite well for many people because others are still asleep and you are less likely to be interrupted and/or there are fewer requests for your presence at other meetings or events.

2. Schedule writing time like an appointment. If you have a hair appointment, an eye doctor's appointment, or an appointment for meeting with your child's teacher, you show up. If you consider your writing to be as important as getting your hair cut, your eyes checked, and/or conferring with your daughter's teacher, then set it up as an appointment - and then show up. You can't get your eyes examined if you don't show up for your appointment and you won't get your writing done if you don't show up.

3. Create deadlines. Setting up your own deadlines is a mental trick that works for some brains and not for others. Having a real deadline, however, actually does the 'trick' in many cases. Obviously, if you are writing for a journal with a deadline, writing a grant proposal you intend to submit by the deadline (duh, why else would you be writing it?!), revising your final manuscript to send to your book publisher to meet the editing/printing deadline, and the like, then you have real deadlines that are already established. Other times, you have to create your own 'real' deadlines. Here are some ways to do so:

a. Announce the availability of a product on which you won't be able to deliver if you don't get your writing completed.

b. Schedule an appointment to show your writing to someone who may be able to represent you, publish your work, or make an introduction on your behalf to someone else who would be interested in your work.

c. Meet regularly with other writers who hold you accountable for getting your writing done (because you also do the same for them).

4. Close the door - both literally and figuratively. Heavens knows we can self interrupt when we are supposed to be writing. However, being interrupted by others just when we're making great progress on a piece is frustrating and aggravating. By literally closing the door - and even putting up a sign, you cut out walk-by traffic, drop-in visitors, and others who would divert you from your focus. By 'figuratively' closing the door, you mentally shut out other thoughts, tasks, and diversions. Your mind is powerful and you can use that power to block out distractions - even from yourself.

5. Clear your mind/get in the zone. Related to the previous trick, you can go through a clearing exercise as you begin to write, particularly if you have set aside a significant amount of time to write and/or if you must be hyper-focused in order to accomplish your writing goals. For me, my current ritual involves 1) going to the restroom and drinking a large glass of water; 2) shutting down all electronic distractors, e.g., MS Outlook, telephone ringer; 3) putting all materials that are not pertinent to the current writing project away; 4) wiping off my work area with a wipe, and 5) making sure I have any materials that are necessary for my current writing project at my fingertips. This whole routine takes no more than 5 minutes and is worth every second because it signals my brain that we are about to get ultra-focused and productive with our writing.

Now, stop reading these, put one into practice and start writing...

Hey, we're all in this together, right? If you would like to get inspiration, direction, and structure for your writing, join us for the upcoming tele-workshop & coaching event, "30 Articles in Just 30 Days." Here's where you can learn all the scoop:


You will see what others who have participated in previous events have to say. Check it out!

(c) 2009 by Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D., "The Ph.D. of Productivity"(tm). Through her company, Emphasis on Excellence, Inc., Meggin McIntosh works with bright people who want to be more productive so that they can consistently keep their emphasis on excellence.

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