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January 2023: How Do Writers Stay Productive?

This is a question we consistently hear within Lucinda’s courses. Many of you have day jobs, run businesses, have families to look after, or experience other variations of noisy roommates. It can be so hard to find the discipline and the attention in our faster-paced, more- demanding-than-ever schedule.

As Lucinda turns to writing a book herself, she’s been deeply inspired by the productivity strategies of our own authors. For example, Chris Bailey takes walks, long showers, and entire “think week” vacations away from his digital devices in order to find the white space needed to discover his best big book ideas. In Hyperfocus, he describes this as the virtue of “scatterfocus,” a non-linear route to connecting the dots in one’s life toward a meaningful end.

Other authors like Johann Hari, whose terrific book Stolen Focus Lucinda read over the holiday break, offers a number of ways to reclaim focus. He and our author Ron Friedman both believe in time-blocking, using a variety of apps or simply having the discipline to fully unplug while writing. In our What Agents Want course, writer Paul Fair takes an even more aggressive approach: writing full chapters with the intention of tossing them, simply to clear his mind for a stronger second draft.

For those getting started or needing to refresh, we offer several productivity tips that can be achieved in ten minutes or less.

And then there’s the great challenge of building the kind of platform agents, editors, and readers need to see, all while writing your book. This is where we find that writers get most exasperated. Here’s what we suggest, with much more in-depth tools and guidance in our marketing class:

Pre-batch social media content. While many of you have heard of the batching approach, what you might find helpful is the method of snatching your favorite quotes and content as you’re reading your own work or that of others. This could refer to books, articles, blog posts—even those of yours that you are eager to share while in the draft stage. Then you can schedule everything once a week and not need to think about it again.

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Commit to video. This one is admittedly very tough, but as social media becomes more and more video-focused, and publishers scanning TikTok for potential talent, pick a day and a time (and an outfit!) each week to capture a fresh insight—or something fun and voice-y that shows personality. It may require a few takes, but don’t worry about perfection. Consistency and creating what your audience loves you for most is far better than overly glossy perfection.

Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to your advantage. This is essential in making sure your content reaches a wider audience. Don’t worry, it sounds more intimidating than it is. Basically, you want to ensure that the language you are using in the meta titles and description on your website, blog, and social media channels is strong and relevant to the topics you’re writing about. This way, you can spend less time self-promoting, as people will be able to find your content organically through search results. 

If you’d like a visual that we share with writers on how to best spend your time promoting, see below:

Balancing the internal process of writing with the external process of sharing content is not merely what the most successful authors do, but will reward you and prepare you as you take the leap from writer to author. If you’ve finished your book and/or book proposal and are looking for productivity tips while you want to hear from agents, check out our article on this topic.