15 Productivity Tips for Nonfiction Writers

WNFINOVEMBER.png This post is part of the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge (WNFIN), also known as National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo), which is brought to you by the Nonfiction Writers’ University — join today for just $1! To find out more or participate in the WNFIN challenge, click here.

how writers generate productivty

A 30-day writing challenge requires a high level of productivity. After all, if you aren’t productive during the month, you won’t achieve the results you desire.

To complete a book, or even an article or essay, during a month-long challenge like Write Nonfiction in November (WNFIN), also known as National Nonfiction Writing Month (NaNonFiWriMo), you need to churn out words on demand. You must be able to produce content each time you sit down to write.

If you don’t, you’ll never meet your goal of completing the work of nonfiction in 30 days.

But it’s easy to get distracted. It’s easy to let life get in the way.

And sometimes your best effort is not your best. You might write slowly and produce fewer words than your daily word-count requirements.

So, what’s a writer who wants to participate in the WNFIN Challenge to do? Increase your productivity…fast!

To help you do that, I asked four productivity experts to answer this question:

What top 3 tips or strategies would you recommend for nonfiction writers who want (and need) to become more productive?

Find their answers below.

And, since I’m a Certified High Performance Coach, I’ve added three as well.

  1. Get enough sleep. Few productivity experts discuss sleep, but if you don’t get at least seven hours of sleep per night, you show up to your computer impaired—like writing drunk! Sleep a minimum of seven hours per night, and your productivity will increase.
  2. Take hourly breaks. You may believe that taking a break will cause you to lose your writing flow. However, taking a break every hour has been proven to help increase productivity. Set a timer for 50 minutes. When it goes off, get up from your desk and move!
  3. Feed your brain. You can’t be productive if your brain is starved of what it needs to operate. Try to eat a healthy diet, and pay attention to what foods cause you to feel tired or lethargic. Also, move your body! On our hourly breaks, take a walk, do yoga, or jump up and down. You can even do deep breathing exercises. All of these activities wake up your body and provide the brain with the oxygen it needs to perform. And don’t forget to drink a lot of water every day. Your brain needs H2O as well.
Peter Bregman
  1. Wake up earlier than you feel awake, roll out of bed, and start writing. Write when your heart is open, your defenses are down, and your day has not yet gotten distracting.
  2. Don’t write to try to have a bestseller. Write from your heart to your audience’s.
  3. Write what makes you smile even if you don’t think you can ever publish it. You never know what will come through. And don’t edit while you write.

Peter Bregman began his career teaching leadership on wilderness and mountaineering expeditions before moving into the consulting field with the Hay Group and Accenture. For the last 17 years, he has been the CEO of Bregman Partners, a company which strengthens leadership in people and in organizations through programs, including the Bregman Leadership Intensive, coaching, and as an advisor to CEOs and their senior leadership teams. His most recent book is Four Seconds: All the Time You Need to Replace Counter-Productive Habits with Ones That Really Work (February 2015), a New York Post top pick for your career in 2015. His previous book was the Wall Street Journal bestseller 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, named the best business book of the year on NPR, selected by Publisher’s Weekly and the New York Post as a Top 10 business book and winner of the Axiom Business Book Awards Gold medal. He is also the author of Point B: A Short Guide to Leading a Big Change and co-author of five other books. Featured on PBS, ABC and CNN, Peter is a regular contributor to Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Forbes, National Public Radio (NPR), and Psychology Today.

Website: http://www.peterbregman.com
Twitter: @PeterBregman

Dr. Wayne Pernell
  1. Use your wall. Ideas come at odd times, and you need take notes on whatever is available, including napkins or 3×5 cards. Then, use painters’ tape (to make them movable, like post-it notes) and put them up on a wall near your desk. Seriously, this is different than using your computer, and you’ll be able to see all of your thoughts all at once. You can then start categorizing your ideas. Themes emerge from the collection of notes. As they do, create columns. Each column becomes a chapter and each cluster of notes becomes a paragraph within each chapter.
  2. Block time. Set a time to write. Even if it’s just a 20-minute block, set it! It doesn’t have to be the same time every day, but you need a block of time to sit with your writing. Before long, it’ll call to you, and you’ll want to extend your writing times. Also, if you set times longer than two-hour blocks, be sure you set a timer to break. Get a stretch in every hour. Set a timer to walk away from your work. That, too, will make you want to come back to it!
  3. Write! It sounds basic, but if you want to get your book done, you need to write. That’s a “need to” comment. Here’s the thing, no one has your voice, and world needs to have your perspective. Write with love. Write as if you’re telling someone you know you can help with your words. That person needs you and the world needs you. Who needs you right now? They still need you. Write! Right now, write. The longer you wait, the longer it’ll be before the help you have to offer arrives to them.

Dr. Wayne Pernell achieves break-through levels of personal and professional results and has become known as The Leader’s Leader! Insightful, witty, and playful, “Dr P” (as he’s known by his clients and friends) brings more than thirty-five years of experience as a trusted advisor to entrepreneurs and executives. Dr. Pernell leverages a proven framework to create clarity and focus, foundational elements in building relationships and developing leadership skills. These are the basis of his DynamicLeader® programs, driving to the definition and setting of strategic pathways to attain new break-through successes.

Dr. Wayne Pernell has been seen in Forbes, on Fox and NBC morning television, and is an internationally acclaimed and multiple best-selling Author, Speaker, and Certified High Performance Coach. His work continues to help people across the globe.

Choosing Your Power, his first book, has earned wide acclaim for the self-development focus it offers. His second book a best-seller with Brian Tracy, The Winning Way, focuses on Meaning Maker Leadership. His most recent book, The Significance Factor (September 2016), became an immediate #1 best-seller focusing on key steps everyone needs to transform their life make it truly matter.

After earning his doctorate in clinical psychology, Dr. Pernell stepped into the business arena, working with organizational leaders and their teams, serving several high-profile companies including Schwab, 3Com, Whole Foods Market, AAA, and Tyco. Growing up as the son of a dentist, Dr Pernell circled back to help dental professionals to grow their practices. In addition to developing his DynamicLeader® programs, Dr. Pernell has been with Pride Institute since 2005 and now serves as a Senior Consultant and the Director of Organization Development.

Dr. Pernell’s calling and “super-power” is to get people unstuck both personally and professionally. In so doing, his DynamicLeader® clients break through to even greater results, success, and happiness.

Website: http://www.WaynePernell.com
Twitter: @WaynePernell

John Soares
  1. Get clear on why you are writing. What is your main goal or goals for this book, this essay or article? How will it help you? How will it help others? Gaining clarity on exactly why you are doing this is crucial to developing a strong desire to complete your project and do a great job.
  2. Acknowledge that getting the writing done will require substantial effort. The bigger and more complicated the project, the more time and energy it will take, and the more problems you’ll have to solve. Be prepared to do everything necessary. Also develop plans in advance to deal with expected obstacles.
  3. Acknowledge that getting the writing done will require substantial effort. The bigger and more complicated the project, the more time and energy it will take, and the more problems you’ll have to solve. Be prepared to do everything necessary. Also develop plans in advance to deal with expected obstacles.

John Soares has been a freelance writer for businesses and nonprofits for over 25 years. He’s also the author of several books, including 100 Classic Hikes in Northern California (Seattle: The Mountaineers Books), in print since 1994 and coming out soon in a fourth edition. He helps writers get more done in less time at his Productive Writers website.


Websites: http://ProductiveWriters.com and http://JohnWrites.net
Twitter: @TheJohnSoares

Sage Cohen
  1. Focus less on time and more on energy. A one-hour writing session at your optimal performance time could yield as much or more work as a three-hour session when you’re dragging. Experiment with time and location to see what context gives you liftoff, and then write under those conditions as much as possible.
  2. Master the margin. Give your full attention to every scrap of time you have, and commit to making that time count. Commuting, waiting for appointments, and chaperoning kid’s activities can become powerful micro-writing sessions when you have an agile system for capturing ideas. An author I know wrote his book in two hours a week. You can, too.
  3. Fail harder. Push yourself to your growing edge, and consider every failure a measure of your courage and a reflection of your evolution. Don’t forget that mistakes yield some of the richest and most surprising material—insights, wisdom, and writing that are not available through so-called success.

Sage Cohen is the author of Fierce on the Page, The Productive Writer, and Writing the Life Poetic, all from Writer’s Digest Books, and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World from Queen of Wands Press. Visit her at sagecohen.com.

Website: http://sagecohen.com
Twitter: @sagecohen


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