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SPQ 018: Prolific Writing – What Tools and Processes Do You Use to Write On a Daily Basis?

Written by Steve Scott on January 11, 2015. Listen to SPQ: iTunes | Stitcher | RSS Feed
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SPQ018: Prolific Writing – What Tools and Processes Do You Use to Write On a Daily Basis?

The Question…

What tools and processes do you use to help you be a prolific writer?

Biggest Takeaway…

Steve’s Answer…

Prolific writing makes things a lot easier for your book-based business. When it comes to being prolific, it’s all about habits. The right habits help you take large projects and break them down into doable daily processes.

If you want to be a prolific writer, you must understand when you work best and focus on writing during the time you are at your peak. This can be difficult, especially if you are juggling a job or family responsibilities, so try to find the right balance between writing and your other obligations.

Steve uses a list of most important tasks (MITs) to determine what to work on each day. Writing is one of these tasks. When he writes out his MITs for the day, he is very specific. Instead of saying “Write something,” he says something specific, like “Write 1,500 words for my newest Kindle book.”

It’s important to be consistent with your writing, so focus on consistency first instead of focusing on word count. Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg and Mini Habits by Stephen Guise both recommend building consistency instead of creating lofty goals you probably won’t accomplish. When you first start, set a very small goal so you get used to writing on a daily basis. There’s a chance you will exceed your goal once you get going.

When you sit down to write, you need to focus on the right things. If you plan to be a Kindle author, you need to focus on that. Steve decided to give up blogging and focus on his Kindle writing, for example. Don’t be afraid to say no if someone approaches you about doing a project you don’t have time to complete. Greg McKeown talks about this in Essentialism.

Steve uses a project pipeline to manage multiple projects at the same time: the book I’m developing, the book I’m writing, and the book that is in post-production (see SPQ08 for more about this). For projects in development, he is coming up with ideas, creating outlines, and doing research.

If you use a project pipeline, you’re never left without something to write. Once you finish a book, you have another book to work on.

Steve also recommends the Pomodoro technique. With this technique, you work for 25 minutes and then take a five-minute break. This helps you avoid distractions and focus on your writing.

Use a spreadsheet with the following seven columns to track your productivity:

  1. Time of the day (morning, afternoon, or evening)
  2. Date
  3. Location (office, Starbucks, etc.)
  4. Title of your writing project
  5. Number of writing blocks
  6. Total word count for the session
  7. Average word count (total word count divided by the number of writing blocks completed)

It is important to calculate your average word count so you can determine where and when you work best. A lot of this comes down to the 80/20 rule: 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your efforts.

Steve discusses several of these topics in his book, “Writing Habit Mastery.” He wrote the book a few years ago, but it still has a lot of good tips for helping you become a prolific writer.

Key Takeaways

SPQ 018: Prolific Writing – What Tools and Processes Do You Use to Write On a Daily Basis? from Steve Scott

Resources and Links

Tiny Habits: The Tiny Habits program helps people change their lives by making tiny changes

Mini Habits: Stephen Guise teaches readers how to make positive changes by adding mini habits to their routines

Essentialism by Greg Mckeown: Greg Mckeown offers insight into living life to its fullest

SPQ 008 – Managing Multiple Projects: Steve explains how he uses a project pipeline to manage multiple projects at the same time

The Pomodoro Technique: Steve uses this productivity technique to stay on track

Writing Habit Mastery: Read this book to learn how to overcome writer’s block

SpeakPipe: Submit a question to the Self-Publishing Questions podcast

  • Great tips here Steve, I completely agree with making it a habit and committing to it, especially if you want to build a book publishing business – I find that mind mapping and outlining my book BEFORE I sit down to write it makes it a lot easier to write it. I work best in the morning’s, so it’s one of the first things I do, although I have recently discovered a window of 2 hours in the early evening where I can also write. I use a combination of Todoist (with projects) and Evernote to keep track of what I should be doing each day and keeping track of project specific details and research.

    • Lise — Sounds like you have a great process flow there. (Especially since you’re committing to a very productive schedule in the months to come.) How do you like Todoist? I’ve heard good things, but never tried it myself.

      • I LOVE Todoist – I broke the bank and got the pro version ($5.00 approx.!) and it’s awesome – it gives me stats on how many tasks I’ve completed and I love that I can have a whole bunch of tasks assigned to projects (read: books) to keep track of everything – and the app on the iPad is phenomenal! Can’t recommend it enough!

        • Oh nice! I’ll definitely check it out…especially since it has stats. Thanks for the reminder to check it out.

  • Hi Steve, the timing of your podcast launch was near perfect for me!

    My 1st draft is almost finished, but while I already have a writing “mini-habit” in place, I didn’t have a tracking method. My spreadsheet is all set up now, and I used it for the first time today. I know this is going to help out a lot with my word counts (for both my blog and Kindle book).

    Thanks again!

    • Great to hear Patrick! I find that tracking word counts is a way to push yourself and bring a little “accountability” into your writing schedule. Good luck with your book!