Write First…Do Everything Else Later

write first to increase productivityHow do you begin your writing day? If you are like most people, the first thing you do is check your phone to see if you’ve gotten any messages. You may answer emails and reply to social media posts. And you handle priorities—your own or someone else’s priorities. But you don’t write first.

Writing isn’t one of the things you do immediately in the morning. It’s not a priority. In fact, it comes last…after everything else gets done (or if it all gets done).

But if you do, indeed, write first thing in the morning—before you do anything else, congratulations! You are one of the few…and I bet you’re a productive writer! How do I know this? Because when you begin your day with time spent on your most important project—your current written work in progress—you do two things:

  1. You set the tone for the entire day.
  2. You make progress on your manuscript consistently each day.

Think about the past week or two…How often did you make writing a priority? How much progress did you make on your manuscript? And did you write first—or do other things first?

I hear you… You have to get the kids off to school before you write. You have to go to your day job first. You have to respond to those emails first and foremost.

In fact, you do not have to do those things first. You can get up earlier and write…first. Then you can do those other things on our to-do list.

Plenty of people get up an hour or two earlier and start their days with writing. They may have an entire morning ritual, but writing it part of it.

Speaking for myself, if I do anything else before I write, I don’t end up writing—or not for as long as I planned.

And high-performance studies also show that people who put their own creative projects first—and work on them as soon as they get to their desks—are more productive than those who don’t. (If you aren’t sure about your level of productivity, take this quiz.)

That’s why the July Nonfiction Writer’s Challenge asks you to start your writing day off on the right foot…by writing.

July Nonfiction Writer’s Challenge

To complete this challenge, create a morning routine that includes writing before you get involved in any other “to-do” items for the day.

Does that mean you must write immediately upon waking up? Not necessarily.

You can choose to take on Hal Elrod’s morning routine, as described in The Miracle Morning, and get up and meditate, repeat affirmations, read, exercise, and journal. But right after that, you must turn to your project and write!

You can decide to have your morning routine include completing morning pages first, as recommended in Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. But then you work on your manuscript.

Even better…and this is how I do it…wake up and wander bleary-eyed to your desk, turn on the computer, and write for a designated period of time. (I do stop in the kitchen on my way to my office and turn on the teapot and drink a large glass of water. My first break is to get my green tea—and go to the bathroom!)

Once I’ve written, I take on the rest of my morning routine—plan my day, journal, meditate/visualize, recite affirmations, walk the dog, and eat breakfast. Then I get on with my other responsibilities and plans. If I falter from this routine, my productivity plummets.

To take on and accomplish this challenge do one thing: write in the morning—before you do anything else you think you must do first.

If that means you have to get up at 5 a.m. so you have time to write before you go to work, handle the kids, or take care of your elderly parent, so be it. Just write first.

And definitely…definitely…don’t get on social media or look at your email first. I feel compelled to look at email first thing most days because my team is in England; half their day is over when I wake up. But if I do, I find myself dealing with their agenda, not mine. And the writing doesn’t happen.

This month, write first. And leave me a comment about how this one new habit affects your productivity. (To receive more productivity tips, first, take my Productive Writer Quiz.

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Photo courtesy of  deandrobot at Stockfresh.com


  1. I like this post Nina! Thanks!

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