The theme today is productivity: how you can take control of it and make the most of it as a new writer or even as someone who has been writing for a long time.
Our interviewee from the Self-Publishing Success Summit, Claire Diaz-Ortiz, is an accomplished author, speaker and Silicon Valley innovator who was an early employee at Twitter. She holds a MBA among other degrees she has received from Stanford and Oxford Universities. She has been named one of the top 100 most creative people in business today by Fast Company and has been featured widely in print and broadcast media. On top of that, Claire also produces valuable content at her in demand business blog: www.clairediazortiz.com.
Being a journalist and best-selling author himself, Claire’s father was her biggest influence growing up. Naturally, writing has always been second nature to her. Had she been asked what she wanted to be as a grownup at the age of four her response would automatically have been writer.
It was a few years after finishing grad school that Claire seriously considered writing her first book. The first action she took was Googling “How to write a book.” That yielded her some information but she hit the jackpot of her search when she refined her wording to “How to write a book proposal.”
The internet is an invaluable tool that can lead you to discover various resources that will help you get started and guide you on your book writing journey.
You should banish any attempts at perfectionism unless you don’t want to make any real headway. Claire says, “It’s much better to have 10 terrible chapters than three great ones and seven that you haven’t even started.”
It was during grad school that Claire was assigned a book called “The Clockwork Muse” while writing her thesis which greatly impacted her own writing productivity. In it the author proposes a methodology which assists prospective writers develop a workable time framework to complete all their projects. You can time your muse by setting up your writing schedule to conspire for your success. By understanding how you write, when you write best, and scheduling accordingly you can own your writing process instead of allowing it to overwhelm you.
For your brain, the act of researching is very different from the actual writing process therefore it is crucial to separate the two tasks. If research is required for the type of writing you are doing it is better to complete this separately since you will want to call upon this information during your writing process. Otherwise, you will constantly be distracted from writing if you have to keep browsing the internet for supporting articles and other forms of research to back your claims. You have to keep trying to just write. When you focus your energy on one task it generates the best results. When you intentionally give yourself less time to work with through Parkinson’s Law your work will expand to fit into the time allotted for its completion. Editing down your time on tasks is another great tool because it forces you to focus.
Here are some helpful tips Claire gives on controlling your productivity:
Seek help from others: It is valuable to consider what others think about your writing because they could provide you with some great insight on how to make it even better. Regardless of how “right” you think you are due to the sheer amount of time and effort you’re putting in, it is wise to hear people out. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring someone’s input, criticism can turn into one of your best teachers.
Write when you’re most productive: Figuring out what time of day you have the most energy is vital. You may even discover what specific days of the week you’re more productive as well. This process is easy to do. You take two weeks out of your schedule and intentionally omit caffeine out of your diet. Then you proceed to monitor how your energy is feeling on a scale of 1 to 10 at every half hour or hour mark. You will soon see consistency with energy levels during certain times of the day versus others. By tapping into your “Magic Hour” you’re really unlocking a new level of productivity.
Plan a writing retreat for yourself: One final golden nugget that Claire relayed to you is to go on a writing retreat. The best way you can make some real progress is by literally disconnecting from the world around you and only focusing on your writing for a concentrated period of time. Even spending one full day will leave you with a lot of valuable thinking and work done to get your writing process moving forward. Ideally three or more days work best to get your first rough draft completed. Figuring out spaces where you can be creative and focused is critical to your success no matter if you’re in your usual daily rhythm or on a retreat.
Increasing productivity as writers is becoming more challenging in a world where the number of distractions and demands upon our time and attention is growing. Given these circumstances it’s not surprising why so many people want to write but very few follow through. In spite of this, the advice you have been given can alleviate this struggle if you choose to apply them and adjust them accordingly to meet your personal lifestyle needs. Claire Diaz-Ortiz is just one shining example of an individual who took action on these tips and turned on the ignition to her successful career. Knowing what you now know, will you be next?