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5 ways to become a more productive writer

Hello, everyone, and welcome to episode two of A Year of Writing. My name is Natalie, and I am your host. How do you become a more productive writer? I know this is a question that a lot of you have been asking yourselves. Believe me, I have too.

Is it possible to go from being a fulltime employee to a fulltime writer in just one year? Let’s find out in a year of Writing, a podcast about writing, productivity, and marketing. My name is Natalie and I am your host.

I know a lot of you have been asking yourselves, how can I get more productive? I have been asking myself that question a lot, too. And as you may know, since you’re listening to this podcast, this year I’m going all in on my writing journey. I want to see how far I can get ahead in my career if I go all in on my writing. And I mean, going all in means that I need to be more productive. So productivity is a big part of this.

In today’s episode, I’m going to go through a few things I’ve learned from other authors and productivity experts. I love reading nonfiction books on productivity, on personal development and stuff like that. And lately I’ve been reading a lot of books on productivity. And there are a few things that I’ve actually implemented into my own life. So today we’re going to go through some of them, and I’m going to give you some advice on how you might be able to get more productive.

Here are five ways to become a more productive writer

Create a morning routine that includes writing. You should have a morning routine that boosts your productivity and creativity. For me, this includes writing morning pages, something learned from you. Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.

Natalie Forslind holding the book: The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.

And I meditate every morning. Something, I don’t know where I got that one from, but a lot of books on health and productivity, longevity talk about the benefits of meditation. And I agree, I would not be where I am today if I did not meditate. It’s one of the best ways to just clear my head and to get out of those thought loops that I can end up in. Especially since as a writer, I think a lot. I’m in my own head a lot, and meditation helps me see that thoughts are just thoughts and it’s okay to let them go. I don’t need to overanalyze everything.

Number four, another way to become more productive is to use the Pomodora method. When you set a timer for 25 minutes, and during that block of time, you focus really, really hard and you just do whatever you’re set out to do. So maybe it’s writing, maybe it’s researching, maybe it’s editing. During this time, it’s really, really important that you don’t have any distractions. So put your phone on silent mode. Turn off WiFi, actually turn off, like, your chat programs and email programs and stuff like that, because that will distract you. It’s super important that you let yourself have the time to actually be in the moment. I mean, I think this is a mistake that a lot of us do sometimes that we think we can multitask. And I’m just going to send a few messages to a friend over there so we don’t get into the state of heightened focus that we want to do. We want to be like deep focus, super deep, because when we’re in that state, that’s when we can go into flow. And have you ever been in writer’s flow? Because if you haven’t, oh my God. You have to go there because it’s so amazing. Okay, I feel I’m getting a bit off track. I’m going to talk about flow in just a second.

I’m just going to wrap it up with the Pomodora method. And after you’ve been focusing for 25 minutes, then you get a five minute break. And after that, you continue for 25 minutes. And you do this like four times. So it’s 2 hours and after that you get a longer break. I think it’s 15 minutes or 20 minutes, I’m not sure. But I use this all the time. I use it when I work, when I write. Yeah. Anytime I need to focus and I feel like things are trying to distract me. I love that method.

So back to writer’s flow. I’m not sure about the scientific parts, about ending up in flow, but I do know what it feels like. It’s amazing. You get into such a deep state of creating that all of the world around you just disappears and you sort of emerge with your story and I don’t know, time flies. You produce a lot, once I ended up almost writing half a book when I was in flow during Nanowrimo a thousand years ago. It was amazing. Never gotten into flow for that long a period of time again though. I was in Flow for like 6 hours, but it was crazy and it was amazing.

How to become more productive is one thing that I’m really interested in and I want to learn more about. That is why I have decided to challenge myself and to go all in on writing. I’ve put up a few goals for myself to achieve starting from the 1 July 2023 and one year from that date. On of my goals is to write every day for a year, which includes Christmas and vacations. So every day, every day.

Another goal is to finish two or more manuscripts and send it to either agents or publishers. No genre specific. It doesn’t matter if I write fiction or nonfiction or whatever, I plan to write both. So we’ll see.

Another goal for me is to post on Instagram and TikTok every day for a year. This is something that I’ve been doing for quite some time and time and I’ve noticed that it really helps boost my following and engagement. And for me, social media is a way to reach out to new followers and you meet new people, get to know more people.

Building an author brand and getting more followers is something I’m going to talk about in the fourth episode of this podcast, which is about author branding and how you can build a following even though you’re not published yet and stuff like that. So if you’re interested in those things, listen to that episode.

An author planning her story with post its on a wall.

Another goal for my writing year is to launch this podcast, and I plan to release an episode every second week. So, yeah, that’s a lot of work, but I look forward to it. So far, it’s been a lot of fun just doing the research and planning the episodes and stuff like that.

The fifth goal for me this year is to post at least once a week on my blog or website. Why did I put up these goals? Let me break them down for you.

Writing every day. Why do I want to write every day? Because all the time I spend writing increases my chances of getting more books published and to get a bigger audience reaching out for more people. And it also makes me a better writer. I think it was Neil Gaiman who said in his Master class that to become a great writer, you have to write as much as you can, all of the time. It also makes perfect sense for me right now at this stage of my life, to focus on my career. I’m really blessed to be able to do that.

And how do I make sure to write every day? I’ve read a book called 5000 Words per Hour by Chris Fox. You should check it out. It’s a really good book about increasing your writing speed. And he actually claims that if you increase it enough, you might be able to read each 5000 words per hour. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it. But the thing he talks a lot about is to be able to write faster and to become a better writer, you need to have a writer routine. One way to do that is to write every day. You can choose to write half an hour a day or one hour a day. I get up one hour earlier than I did before I started writing every day and sit down and write first thing I do in the morning. Why do I do it this early in the morning? Because there are no distractions yet. I am not allowed to check social media or anything until I’ve written. Which is good because otherwise you might end up like scrolling through TikTok for hours in the morning. It’s like my head is clear and there are no worries or stress about work or about other things in my life. So I can focus on a manuscript. And since I write every day, I don’t have to go back and reread stuff. I know where I am, I know what’s going to happen next.

And once I’ve written like a first draft, maybe I’ll let that one rest for a bit and edit some other draft I have or whatever. Or I will go back and start edit that one straight away. I have quite a rigorous editing routine which you can find in my free e-book 4 steps to writing faster.

Writing every day has helped me be so much more productive. And it’s something that most people can do by just getting up half an hour earlier to write, the first thing you do. Even if you have kids, ask your partner to take the kid in the morning. Or look at your schedule and see when you have your slot of time where you can write. I’ve told my partner that my morning writing session I don’t want to be disturbed. But yes, he can bring me coffee. After my writing time we can talk and have a morning routine together. Writing every day is one of the greatest things I’ve done so far. In this podcast I will be talking about what it’s like doing this over the long course of time. Because right now, when producing this podcast, I’ve been writing for about 80 days in a row. And I started writing just for half an hour, then I extended it to one hour. I’m not sure how many days I’ve written for an hour, but over a month. And it’s going great so far. Even when I visited my parents I still woke up earlier just to write.

Well, a dream for me is to one day become a full time writer. And the way to do that is to write and to publish as many books as I can. So the faster I write, the bigger chance I have of succeeding.

Why do I have the goal to post on social media every day and post on Instagram and TikTok every day? The reason why is that I want to build an audience that are interested in me as a writer in my career. I want to connect with people that might one day be interested in buying my books.

To be honest, since I work with marketing professionally, I also know that if you want to grow on these channels you need to have your niche, you need to post frequently, you need to make sure to use all the new features that the platforms introduce and you need to stay up to date. Doing thin also helps me continuously think about creating. Even sometimes when I’m at the gym or when I’m writing, I don’t know, my morning pages or whatever I’m doing, I’m always thinking, oh wait, can I use this as a b-roll? Can I maybe film a time lapse and reuse the content for later? Which actually means that I’m always in the mindset of creating, I guess.

Posting as much as possible also helps me go back and see what kind of stuff that actually flies. What kind of posts do my audience respond to? Do they like the humorous videos when I make like author memes? Or do you guys want more educational stuff? Do you want me to talk about how I market my own books or what do you want to know? I’ll see that in the statistics in the apps, which is great. And as I told you, I’m going to talk a lot more about this in episode four of the podcast. So tune in for that one.

I actually got the idea for launching a podcast quite recently and I think it’s a very good fit into my overall content plan. If you have any questions or any suggestions on what you want me to do in the future, reach out to me on social media, I am on Instagram. I also feel like there’s room for more podcasts about writing because a lot of the podcasts today that I found about writing and that I’ve been listening to, all of them are interview podcasts, which is great, but if I don’t know the one that’s being interviewed I’m not as inclined to listen. I’d rather hear experts on the topic. I guess there’s also an opportunity for me to learn more about writing and about writing and marketing because for each of these episodes I have to do a lot of research. I’m scripting down that I plan to say and try to make it as interesting as possible.

It’s also a way for me to learn how to become a better speaker and practice. I mean, I both produced this as a podcast with just sound, but I also plan to post it as a video on YouTube. So it’s a way for me to get more comfortable in front of a camera.

If you have any questions or any suggestions on what you want me to do in the future, reach out to me on social media I am on Instagram and you can email me on I look forward to hearing from you.

And the last one. Why would do I want to post a text on my blog every day? No. Every week. Oh my God. Every day would be exhausting. The reason why is for me to, of course, talk about writing, learn about writing, but also reach more potential readers. If I’m going to launch some kind of business and actually help people with proofreading or ghost writing or marketing, then I need to have content that’s for free that I can give you as an expert on these topics. So writing a blog is a very good way to do that, and it’s also a great way for me to do research about stuff that I want to know more about, like how do you write dynamic dialogue? It’s a perfect thing to post on a blog, but it’s also a perfect thing to do research on. So it’s a win win.

At the start of this episode, I talked a little bit about habits and how you can use them to become a more productive writer. If you haven’t read Atomic Habits by James Clear, read it. It’s one of the best books I’ve read, probably ever. He talks about how habits – how these small habits that we don’t even think about accumulate over time and what they will do for you when it comes to whatever your dreams and visions are for your life.

One example that he has is if you eat unhealthy, maybe you’re having a bad day and you buy chocolate. You eat chocolate and you feel a little bit better, but then your blood sugar crashes and you need to eat something more. And if you keep on doing this, choosing to eat unhealthy things will accumulate. The problem with habits, the reason why a lot of us don’t have really good, healthy habits is because it takes such a long time before we see results. If you eat unhealthy or even if you eat healthy, you won’t see any results. Not the first day, not the second day, not the third, not after a week, maybe not even after a month. The problem with habits is that you don’t see results until much later. It takes a lot of time before you see results, both good habits and bad habits.

It’s like the example with if you get a dollar that doubles every day for 30 days – would you take the dollar or would you take million dollars? And a lot of people are inclined to choose the million dollars because it seems like it’s more, but the dollar that doubles every day for 30 days… it’s not like until the last three days or something that the money actually increases and then it starts increasing a lot. So at the end of the 30 days, that $1 would be worth that doubled would be worth over 100.000.000…? Oh my God, that’s too many zeros. Yeah, over a billion, I guess. Over maybe 100 billions. I don’t know. It’s so many zeros that I can’t even count it. That’s the thing with habits, that you don’t see the result until much later.

A lot of people give up just before things actually start happening, which is such a shame. One way that you can get motivated to get healthier habits or better habits, or to get into the habit of writing nudging on yourself. If I should remember to take my allergy pills at lunch, I’ll just put the box at the counter because otherwise I’ll forget that I need to take it while eating.

Another way that you can actually motivate yourself to, let’s say, to go to the gym, is that you can reward yourself afterwards. So I love using the sauna after a workout, which means that I let myself have a mini spa after going to the gym. When I decided that I wanted to get in shape, I went to the gym and then afterwards I used the sauna and enjoyed the a great feeling of warmth.

You should never underestimate the accumulating effects of habits. Like, if you actually think about getting in shape – if you get in shape, you will probably eat healthier. And if you eat healthier, you will probably sleep better. And when you sleep better, you will have more energy to do the things you want to do. Maybe you’ll focus better. Maybe you’ll get more done at work. Maybe you’ll write more. The extra energy you had for work leads to a promotion.

You should never think that the small things don’t matter, because they do, and especially over time. That’s why it’s really important to have healthy habits that support your creativity and your productivity, like the creativity and productivity in your life.

For me, one of the habits that really support me getting up an hour earlier every day to write is my meditation. I started meditating every day over a year ago now. I also write morning pages. I work out a lot, usually after work. So I get up at 5.45 am, I write for one hour, then I write my morning pages, then I meditate and after that I start my “get ready for work” morning routine. I work for 8 hours. And when I’m done working, my head is quite tired, so I usually go to the gym and work out which makes my head clear up. In the evenings I’ll probably read or maybe write some more or spend time with my partner or friends and then I go to bed quite early. I read before falling asleep, get my 8 hours of sleep and start again.

I’ve also noticed that there are a lot of things that affect how I sleep. So if I eat too late in the evening, I won’t sleep that well. If I drink alcohol, I won’t sleep that well. And stuff like that also affects how much I’m able to how productive I will be. I heard some quotes, I don’t remember where, but that the things we do today will affect how we feel and how we perform tomorrow. And I really believe that is true. So if you want to be productive the days ahead, make sure do stuff today that will help you feel better tomorrow.

I think a lot of us stress around all day and then we think that when we get to the weekend, we will sleep in, we will do this and that, we will recharge to have energy write. But I don’t think it works like that. If you stress all week and think you’re going to recharge during the weekend, then you won’t have enough energy, you won’t feel motivated to write. You’ll probably wake up early during the weekend because all the stress that is still in your body. So nah, take care of yourself today. And I found this quote online that I really like and it said :

A great way to increase writing productivity is to set a goal and then make it public so that others can hold us accountable.

Kristen Lamb

And I guess that’s what I’m doing… I’m not sure if I actually told you? So right now, during the summer I am going to write book in four months from idea to finished book. Well, yeah, I’m going to send it to publishers after four months. And how do I do this? Well, first of all, I mean, I made the goal public, so there’s an actual deadline. And I’ve also booked an editor that I have to send the manuscript to like in the middle of the summer. So it has to be done and edited by then.

And one thing I learned from another great Swedish author that I know, her name is Christina Öhman, is how to outline a story. She talked about how she plans her writing and what kind of deadlines she puts up for her writing during a workshop and I got super inspired. So I took what I learned from her and what I learned from 5000 Words per Hour and created a big spreadsheet where I planned out all my chapters for the novel.

I used to be a pantser, but I realized that if I want to become a lot more productive, I need to become a planner. Because pansing is fun and it feels very creative, but in the end… you have to go back and edit so many times for it to actually become great. So I do think that planning ahead of time, like making sure that the plot twists and stuff are at the right place, and that the story holds together, and that the character arcs hold, I think that’s a great way to become more productive.

But anyways, this spreadsheet that I’ve created, it has how much I should write in average every day, every week. It has all the deadlines. It said that on date x I’m supposed to start editing. It’s a very rigorous planning scheme. If you would like to have this spreadsheet I created a free ebook with four tips on writing. And in that ebook, there’s a link to the spreadsheet so you can download it and actually plan your story yourself. It also has a side where you track your process, how fast you write every day. That’s also a great way to see how much you write per hour. I write an average around 1000 words per hour. Which is great. But I also know that I can write a lot faster.

In order for me to write fast I need to know what’s going to happen in the story. You should definitely check out the spreadsheet och the ebook. I guess my last point on how to become a more productive writer is to plan ahead. I know a lot of us love pantsing, but if you plan on making writing your full time job, or if you plan on writing a lot of books very fast, then you need to plan because editing and rewriting takes a lot of time. And also, either you do an outline before or you pants your way through, and then you have to do an outline of what you wrote afterwards. I have made this mistake. I’ve actually had to remake the outline and realized that things didn’t add up. That can’t be there because those characters, they’re not supposed to like each other yet. The storyline didn’t add up, so I had to rewrite the entire manuscript. It was intense. And I don’t recommend doing that. So please, at least try to outline. Like, I don’t plan out every scene. A lot of it is still spontaneous and fun, but I plan out a lot of things and it has really helped me increase my productivity and writing speed.

If you like this episode, please print screen it and tag me on social media. Or like it or follow it. Whatever you do, it really helps when you do this. Thank you so much. My name is Natalie. You’ve been listening to A Year of Writing.

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