On Becoming a More Productive Writer


I have been talking a lot about trying to shift the focus of my website and blogs. Yes, I have, technically, four blogs. One of them is this one, SB James Doing the Write Thing. This blog has evolved and become more of a place for authors than a place for my readers.

I’m in a few groups (on Facebook, Google+ and a couple of forums) where we chat about the business aspect of writing and indie publishing. Many of us know that we have to keep our productivity high in order to remain viable. The more well produced books in our backlist, the better off we all are. Some of the authors in these groups are going so far as to try and write an entire novel (aiming for 70k words, I believe) in 21 days. Far faster than NaNoWriMo pace!

As I approach the 2 year anniversary of publishing The Inventor’s Son, I’m gaining a certain maturity about knowing what I’m capable of doing and what I’m not capable of doing. In my case, it’s now a matter of believing I can produce more than I have been.

So, where am I going with all this?

2015 has been a hard year for me personally. It was around this time last year that I had hoped to have The Explorer’s Son released, but instead I had to start looking for a house in a market that was rapidly heating up. My productivity during those months was virtually nil, aside from a project that started on Wattpad but eventually became a giveaway to people who want to join the Inventor’s Son Readers List. I wrote a lot of that (which only ended up being about 10k words) during CampNaNoWriMo in April, while packing to move out of a place I’d lived in for 8 years. And during that month, we lived in worry that we might not get the place we finally found after all, or that we’d be forced to stay in the apartment for another month while all the paperwork got shuffled around from place to place.

Needless to say, I discovered a few things about my writing during those months. One was that I need to be able to focus on the project without worry about outside concerns. Two was that I needed a system that I could trust that would enable me to produce. And three was that 10k words in a month is pathetic output. Almost more pathetic than nothing at all.

So, one thing I probably will not do anymore is participate in NaNoWriMo. I know authors that are churning out more than that every month, not just in the magical month of November. Another thing I’m going to do is work on more than one book at a time. I know that many authors balk at the idea, but I like the notion that no matter what my mood, there’s a project I can work on.

And now for the main focus of this post: I’m going to document on this blog my endeavors to learn how to become more productive. Last year, I started following Joseph Michael (who does a Scrivener training course) on Twitter. He retweeted a blog post from a site called Asian Efficiency. Slowly but surely, I started looking into some of the stuff they have to say about productivity. They are adherents of the Getting Things Done concept started by David Allen. They also have a host of different programs and products to help people become more efficient, many of them free.

After listening to The Productivity Show podcast a number of times, I am starting to envision ways to get these concepts to work for an author who has a very demanding day job and needs more time and energy for the “side hustle” of writing and publishing books. Oddly enough, I even found a book on my Kindle that I had downloaded a long time ago about using Microsoft Outlook to apply the GTD methods on the email inbox. Now, I admit my email isn’t quite that busy, but I have a surprisingly large amount of email, and I don’t have the most efficient ways to handle what volume I do get. I must have known, even before I had published my first book, that I’d need some guidance.

But my life is about more than just email. So this new category of blog posts is going to focus on my efforts to become more productive as a writer, and it will be a place for me to share what works for me and what doesn’t. Just like my Author Social Media Deep Dive blog is for documenting the social media and marketing aspects of my indie publishing, this new area of SB James Doing the Write Thing is going to serve a similar purpose.

What initial things did you find you needed to do to become more productive? What things do you find impede your productivity?


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2 thoughts on “On Becoming a More Productive Writer

  1. I’ve found that NaNoWriMo and deadlines on freelance projects have really improved my output. I used to think I could never be so productive, but I had one day last week when I churned out 6k words! I can’t always get that done, but it’s good to know I can!

    Liked by 1 person

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