Have you ever gotten so caught up in a deadline (or your own expectations) that writing anything at all felt … uncomfortable?
Too often as writers we measure ourselves by our level of productivity. We get so worried about being productive that we forget to enjoy ourselves.
Here’s the rub: if you aren’t enjoying your writing, you aren’t truly being productive.
Give me six minutes and I’ll give you six techniques that’ll make you a happy and productive writer.
When you stop feeling happy — or good about your work — you lose motivation.
If you lack motivation, you won’t get much accomplished. I know you know this, but I’d be willing to bet you’ve never created a happiness system.
A personal story about writing, motivation and failure
Last month I was setting up 3 Twitter parties in 1 week.
I was writing my face off and hating every minute of my effort. We all know the saying, “It’s not the destination, but the journey that matters.”
I certainly wasn’t living that quote.
I was stressed and worried about getting all the copy done for my project. Most of it was self-induced.
Who am I kidding? It was all self-induced. I just wanted the copy done so I could relax. I wanted it out of my mind so I could move on.
After I finished, I switched to my editor’s mind and read over my blog posts, newsletter posts, landing pages and tweets.
Half of it was decent, and then I read through the other half. It sucked.
I knew exactly why. I was writing from a place of stress and frustration instead of fun and curiosity.
My writing superpower had failed me because I was bullying myself instead of enjoying the process.
My arch nemesis was laughing at my feeble attempt of writing the second half of my copy. It took me much longer to rewrite the landing page and newsletter email than if I would have worked on them both from a place of fun and curiosity.
I analyzed the process and discovered some fascinating concepts that can help you supercharge your writing.
The best way to optimize your writing superpower is to start at ground zero.
1. Know your “Why” before you sit down to write
You have to know why you need to write.
I’m not talking about the pay that you get for each article, press release or email you write. I’m talking about your intrinsic motivation.
By knowing why you want to do the work, you won’t get burnt out. Believe me, writing non stop articles/copy can be exhausting if you aren’t doing them for a higher purpose.
This may mean writing articles to improve your writing, writing articles to get your message out into the world, or to niche yourself as an expert in this field.
Whatever it is, know that you aren’t doing it just for the money because if you are, you aren’t going to last as a writer.
2. Know your productivity hot-spots
Every writer has a certain time of day that allows for peak creativity.
Some writers love that first cup of Joe in the early morning when everything is quiet and they can focus. Others love late nights when their body is a little tired, but not too tired.
You have a hot-spot. Experiment with working hard at different hours of the day and find it.
Notice when you are most productive and creative throughout the day. Don’t “try” to make time during this period, make time.
If you write best at night then make sure you aren’t disturbed and write until your brain gives out.
You’ll get more done in two hours during your hot-spot than in four hours outside of this zone.
3. Walk with your emotions
As a writer you’ll hit those weak moments when your writing isn’t lighting the world on fire.
If you’re like most writers, most of your moments will be like this.
It happens to us all, but what you do during this time will make the difference between success and failure.
You need to walk with your emotions when you are having trouble focusing. As a writer a cloudy mind means crappy writing.
You need to clear your head. I like to do this by taking a walk and talking to my arch nemesis.
By thinking of this cloudiness as an arch nemesis, I create an emotional bridge between me and my problem.
I also bring my dog to help fight this battle. We talk about my fears, resistance, and how I can get back on track. Then, after about 30 minutes, I can usually get back and meet my deadline.
If you aren’t processing your emotions on a daily basis, you are allowing your arch nemesis to push you around.
4. Refocus your creativity by reading a kid’s book
A friend of mine, Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project, loves asking people what they do to improve a bad mood.
Gretchen always starts off by saying that she loves to read kid’s books to bring some happiness back into her day.
I’ve also found this is a great way to refocus my creativity.
I can be way off on an article. I can feel myself floating out in space trying to grab on to anything to help ground me. When I feel this disconnect, I’ll grab one of my favorite kid’s books and just read it through.
I always end up feeling lighter and more focused and jump back into my work with renewed vigor.
Use this technique (or find another way) to refocus that mind so you meet your deadlines and stop stressing out so much.
5. Create a writing point system
Every day is basically the same set-up for me.
I like to create my list for the day — my main focus and how productive I expect to be.
I keep a point system for everything that I accomplish. The bigger stuff like writing an article for a blog, I’ll give myself 2 points. The smaller stuff like emails, networking, or short business conversations I’ll give myself 1 point.
I try to reach 10 points by the end of the day. I reach my goal about 50% of the time. By making my goal of 10 points hard to reach, it pushes me to be productive throughout my day. No matter how many points I get, I always celebrate my accomplishments.
You should have a way of keeping track of your productivity.
When you measure what you do, you have a better idea of what’s working and what isn’t, then you can adjust and improve.
6. Make time for a party
Celebrations of your success might get pushed to the back of the line because, well, you’ve got work to do.
This is a huuuuge mistake. You can’t keep producing great copy if you aren’t celebrating your wins.
I have a freelance writer friend who will take 20 minutes to draw a silly cartoon when she feels like celebrating.
It gets her away from the computer, helps her use another part of her brain, and replenishes her creative juices. It’s her perfect mini-party.
When she accomplishes something big like an ebook, she goes out that Friday with her friends, no matter how tired she feels.
When you are done working on an important project then do something to celebrate.
It can be 10 minutes on YouTube or going out to lunch with a friend. You need to reward yourself for your hard work. Too many of us don’t get enough face-to-face friend time as it is, so we need as many excuses as we can get to be social.
And I’m not talking about hopping on Twitter.
I’m talking about hanging out in the real world, with people who you can actually hug.
Remember this …
You have to set up your writing career for happiness.
If you aren’t taking the time to create some happiness systems, you are losing out on a lot of amazing productivity.
If you can’t enjoy your work, you aren’t going to succeed. Marketing a business is the same way. You can’t do marketing you hate. You have to connect with people in a fun way that doesn’t feel like work.
If you hate writing long emails to prospective new clients because that’s what the experts tell you to do, write short emails that make you feel energized. The people who read your copy will feel the passion and they are more likely to open and read your emails.
Think about what you need to write and produce amazing content.
Your writing superpower will only weaken if you don’t find ways to connect with the love of your work.
About the Author: Karl Staib is addicted to throwing Twitter Parties to bring exposure to bloggers. If you want to learn how Twitter Parties can help your business grow then check out the previous link. You can also follow Karl on Twitter so you can stay in the know on all the Twitter parties and their prizes.