Ep 212: Productive Writers Build Their Body of Work – Pillar Three

WritingEp 212: Productive Writers Build Their Body of Work – Pillar Three

Ep 212: Productive Writers Build Their Body of Work – Pillar Three

[Ep 212]

For about four years, I didn’t do much to get healthy or stay healthy. I’d talk about getting in shape but wouldn’t actually do anything. I’d wake up and think about it, then roll over and go back to sleep.

It’s no surprise, of course, that the idea of exercising—the thought of it—didn’t strengthen a single muscle in my body. The desire to be healthy, no matter how intense, didn’t actually make me healthy.

I had to take action.

Finally, about a year ago, I decided to do something. I started by jogging, plodding slowly through the neighborhood on a route so short I called it the wimpy route.

But that’s how it began. To start improving my health, I took action. It was humbling to start so small, but I got out there and ran—I mean, plodded—the wimpy route over and over.

And wouldn’t you know, action produced results.

Over time, I ran a tiny bit faster and farther and grew a tiny bit stronger and healthier. By continuing to take action, I continued to see results.
Productive Writers Take Action
If we want to be writers, we can’t just talk about writing and wish our projects into existence. The idea of writing—the thought of it—won’t get a single sentence of an article, blog post, poem, or short story composed. The desire to be a writer won’t actually make you a writer.

You have to decide to do something.

You have to take action.

That’s how it begins, no matter how humble or wimpy it may seem to you.
Productive Writers Write
In the beginning, it doesn’t have to be much. Just as I didn’t expect to be running a half-marathon distance when I first started plodding around the wimpy route, we don’t have to complete a 200-page novel in our first efforts to sit at our computers and write.

We can tap out a few sentences; maybe a paragraph or two. With those humble beginnings, it begins. And over time it adds up.

That’s the foundation of a productive writer.

A productive writer writes.
Productivity Doesn’t Mean Assembly-Line Production
Productivity doesn’t mean we have to spit out poems like candy from a vending machine or roll out blog articles like cars on an assembly line with repetition and precision. After all, that can lead to a loss of creativity and originality.

What productivity does mean is we have to start and complete projects instead of falling down rabbit holes of research for weeks on end or avoiding the work out of fear or perfectionism.

Productive writers finally step away from the search engines and library books and throw some of their discoveries onto the page to sort it out and produce a final project.

Productive writers overcome perfectionism and fear by sitting down and tapping out their thoughts to create a rough draft, no matter how rough.

Priscilla Long, author of The Portable Writer’s Mentor, writes, “In the end what matters to the ambitious dreamer is a steady and even rather plodding stream of work.”1 It’s fine, she says, if much of the output is “rough, awkward, contrived, and arguably awful.”2

That’s part of becoming a productive writer. You regularly produce a “plodding stream of work” no matter how “arguably awful” it emerges. Through the act of writing, you’re discovering your voice, your style, your preferred genre, your message.

You’re figuring out how to write and what to write every time you write. It’s building a kind of creative strength in you, as you overcome Resistance and do the work.
Productive Writers Finish
Eventually, after establishing a system of producing words and rough drafts, productive writers will develop a habit of finishing what they start.

So often, writers start project after project in bursts of creative inspiration but struggle to see even one of them through to completion.

Not everything we produce will be publishable, but we have to start and finish projects to build our body of work.
Productive Writers Set Up Systems
To be effective at starting and finishing,

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