How To Be A Productive Writer

“Wait for inspiration to strike”.

That’s generally the advice that’s given, but I grew tired of waiting.

When it comes to non-fiction writing, I’ve found that structure is the key.

Structure is leverage, and with the correct leverage you can accomplish great things. In the context of productivity, this means getting more done in a day than in the previous week.

Is this really possible?

Yes, it can be done, and it can propel your business forward like nothing else. Along with it come confidence, vision and greater ambition.

For instance, after a highly productive day, your vision of what’s possible will expand dramatically. Plus, you will be much more certain in the approach you’re taking and the knowledge you’re gaining.

It’s a very logical process involving cause and effect (law of causality). The key is having a system to apply this principle of work.

In other words, it’s about building a habit.

By applying a system of productive action day after day, this will become “a second nature” (what Aristotle called an acquired power) and what contributes to successful living (eudemonia).

With that said, here are the most important elements for becoming a productive writer.

I have found certain actions make the greatest difference. By the way, these are things I’ve learned from others. My contribution here is in their organization and order.

Wake up early

More gets done when you’re not distracted. I think this is the primary reason to start your day before other people wake up. Of course, there are other reasons to rise early, but the majority of them boil down to being free of distraction.

This is a great habit to cultivate, but it does take time. You may initially need to set two alarms, place it away from your bed (so you must get up to knock it off), or get an accountability partner.

If success is important to you, do whatever it takes.

Dress well for work

Many self-employed people neglect this step, but it plays a major role in how you act during the day. If you doubt this, try dressing well for a week, and track your results.

Eat a light breakfast

Having a light breakfast gives you enough fuel to attack the day without feeling lethargic. Never eat too much for breakfast, or you may feel sleepy. Drink coffee, get focused and prepare for the day.

There are times when I only eat a large fruit salad, or have a banana smoothie. This is quick and easy to prepare.

Work in blocks of time (with breaks)

This formula builds incredible momentum. If you haven’t experimented with this way of working, I think you will be staggered at the boost in productivity it gives you. If I was allowed to use only one idea from this list, it would be this.

I first came across this method from the legendary copywriter Eugene M. Schwartz, and his 33.33 method. Here’s how it worked:

He’d set a small kitchen timer for 33.33 minutes. He could not leave the desk until the time ran out. He could stare at the wall, drink coffee, write, or do nothing. But, he could not leave his chair.

I now do the same, but set my timer for 50 minutes. I then take a 10 minute break. Rinse and repeat.

If you do this for the first three hours of the day, you will accomplish more in that time, than most people do all day.

*Incidentally, one of the best advertising, business and copywriting books was written by Eugene Schwartz. It’s called Breakthrough Advertising. You will find that a majority of modern Internet Marketing ideas are copied, based on, or derive from his book.

Remove distractions

Turn your phone off. Close down your email client. Remove everything from your desk, except the notes you need for your current writing project.

To be productive, your full attention needs to be applied to the job. Regardless of your willpower, it is better to just clear your desk of possible distractions.

Take a walk after lunch

Working from home generally means you’re isolated.

That’s great for getting work done, but a quick a walk is good for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it gives you a change of scenery, which acts as a reset button. Secondly, it allows for a little interaction with other people, even if it’s just small talk.

When you get back to your desk, you’ll be refreshed and ready to start again.

To sum up… be professional, develop a daily structure, and then follow it.


-Tom Crawford