12 Habits of Highly Productive Writers (with Commentary)

Posted on Posted in novel writing, writer's block, Writing Fear Free
via Wiley

This infographic came through my Pinterest feed the other day, and it has some useful information to help maximize your writing output.

Let’s take them one at a time.

  1. They reject the notion of “writer’s block.” I don’t believe it exists. “Writer’s block” is actually a symptom of a different problem. That problem could be almost anything: physical exhaustion, stress, fear, lack of inspiration, or even a problem with the manuscript in question. The way to overcome “writer’s block” is to identify to real cause and deal with that problem.
  2. They don’t overtalk their projects. While it’s good to have a logline or an elevator pitch to give to friends, editors, and publishers, writers write more than they talk about what they’re writing. It’s easy, especially for extroverts, to get wrapped up in tossing around ideas with fellow authors. Write first and then talk.
  3. They believe in themselves and their work. Every writer has to believe in the value of their work. Sometimes it’s easy to think that fiction is less valuable than other books. But entertainment has value. Ask yourself what your reader get from your work: entertainment, information, inspiration?
  4.  They know that a lot of important stuff happens when they’re not “working.” Your subconscious is always busy gathering inspiration and making connections. In fact, your subconscious knows what it wants to write before your conscious mind starts to think about an outline. You just have to have the courage to let your subconscious have its way. Be ready to record your ideas wherever you are. Keep a notepad by the bed, in your purse, in the car, on the refrigerator. You never know when an idea will strike, and you don’t want to lose it!
  5. They’re passionate about their projects. If you, the writer, are not excited about your work, how can you expect the reader to be? That’s why I recommend writing what you love. If you do that, your passion will show, and your readers will be swept away into your world of writing.
     
  6. They know what they’re good at. Having a realistic understanding of your tastes and talents is essential for having an enjoyable, prolific career. Write what you love, and write using the methods that suit you. Some writers outline or use note cards to lay out their entire book. If that works for you, keep it up. But there’s nothing wrong if your process is different. Figure out what works for you, and keep doing it. Don’t stop there though. Ponder your weaknesses and work to improve those too.
  7. They read a lot and widely. Almost all lists of writing advice contain the admonition to read. Extensive reading is key to knowing what you love and understanding how books work, how they flow. Nonfiction is also important for research purposes and general knowledge.
  8. They know how to finish a draft. This is what differentiates an aspiring writer from a working writer. Every manuscript goes through a period where all the fun, creative writing is done, and you’re left writing transition scenes or doing copy editing. It would be easy to set aside the book and move onto a new, fun story. And that’s okay if you are writing as a hobby. If you want to make writing writing your career, you have to plow through the boring parts.
  9. They work on more than one thing at once. Multitasking is essential, especially if you self-publish. Not only do you have to work on your current writing project, but you have to market your previous projects, manage sales, do giveaways, pay your taxes, and send royalties to your coauthors or those you publish.
  10. They leave off at a point where it will be easy to start again. People who write for a living set themselves up for success. The image of a “starving artist” may have some twisted, romantic appeal for some, but writers don’t write themselves into a corner and then quit. At the very least, they formulate a plan for how to get over the tough part. Having a plan keeps writers motivated to write more.
  11. They don’t let themselves off the hook. The only person you hurt by making excuses is yourself. Refer to item 8 on this list. Writers don’t stop until they have gone from plan to published.
  12. They know there are no shortcuts, magic bullets, special exercises or incantations. Writers know that they have to do the work to make their dreams come true.

And that’s what this is all about: doing the hard work to make dreams come true. What are you doing today to make your dreams come true?

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