Friday, October 15, 2010

Top 10 Productivity Pitfalls for Writers to Avoid

Happy Friday, fellow bloggers!
I hope you had a productive writing week. Today I'm recycling a helpful article I found from Pushcart Prize nominee, author and poet, Sage Cohen. She writes the following:

When you find time to write, you want to make sure you’re making the most of whatever time you have. With that in mind, here are Sage Cohen's productivity pitfalls you should avoid.

The top 10 productivity pitfalls you should avoid:
1. Unclear big-picture vision. Without an idea of where you’re headed, it will be impossible to set realistic goals and measure your progress along the way.
2. Lack of short-term goals. You can’t hit a target you can’t see. Knowing your daily, weekly, monthly and annual goals (both practical and aspirational) can help you keep moving in the right direction.
3. Fear. Risk is the hinge on which productivity turns; if we aren’t in danger of failing, we aren’t growing. When we let fear prevent us from taking steps that could bring our writing dreams closer, we limit our opportunities to succeed.
4. Trying to force productivity. Understanding your writing rhythms and honoring them is the key to finding and sustaining a flow you can count on.
5. Shabby systems. If you can’t find the latest draft of your essay, can’t keep track of what you’ve pitched and to whom, and don’t remember that great idea you had last week, you’re limiting yourself needlessly.
6. Lack of awareness about time: If you’re not aware of how you’re spending time, what your time is worth, how you might devote more time to writing, or what you intend to accomplish in each chunk of writing time you do have, you’re not maximizing this most precious resource.
7. Transition turbulence. Work to establish rhythms for everything from sitting down to the blank page to completing a writing session, so that shifts from one project to the next don’t leave you in a lull.
8. Perfectionism. If you wait for your work to be perfect, it (and you) may never leave your desk. Focus, instead, on professionalism—doing the best you can, learning along the way, and understanding that mistakes and failures feed every success.
9. Isolation. Without a social, professional and community context, we’re far more likely to get discouraged, lose our way and miss out on opportunities.
10. Negativity. It’s easy to focus on the negative in writing and in life. But when we turn our attention to what’s working and what we appreciate from moment to moment, our sails turn into the wind.


  1. That pretty much says everything, thanks for posting!

  2. Very nice! you forgot twitter, the internet as a whole and TV.
    but am also guilty of trying to force productivity *sigh*

  3. These are important things to keep in mind. Thank you.


  4. On the umpteenth edit and feel I have them all! :0)

  5. Oh now you see that's where I stumble already!! Pitfalls 1-10! Yikes!!! It's scary when I recognise myself in these. Oooopsie. But it's also good to be able to admit this to myself too! :-)

    Thanks for the wake up call! Take care

  6. Thanks so much for sharing these tips, Claudia! To your productive writing, Sage

  7. Hi Toemailer,
    Thanks for visiting.

    Hi Joanna,
    Today I tried to force productivity and I remembered my post, LOL! ;)

    Hi Clarissa,
    Yep! I'm guilty of #4,#6, and #8 :0
    Even though we're aware of these pitfalls, we can easily forget them.

    Hi Carole Anne,
    LOL! I know, I know. Editing makes you realize that your story/chapters need some TLC ;)

    Hi Old Kitty,
    You're welcome. All writers (no matter what genre or level) need a little reminder ;)

    Dear Ms. Sage Cohen,
    What a nice surprise! :)
    Please drop by any time. If you have more useful tips, I would love to share them with my readers and of course, I'll add a link to your website, your books or blog. ;)
    I always give due credit.
    Thank you for stopping by and for letting me use your tips.

  8. Loved this article:) The suggestions on fear were spot on speaking to me. It's those risks in my writing that jar me into growing. I need to embrace the adventure!

  9. Number 8 and 10 are my downfalls...I'm highly organized...

  10. These are excellent tips - thanks for sharing! :) It took me a long time to get involved in any kind of writers' communities - so glad I finally did! I've learned so much in the last couple of months!

    Have a great weekend!

  11. Hi Tamika,
    Glad to hear you liked the post ;) Yes, you hit the nail: we need to embrace the writing adventure and everything that comes with it.

    Hi Sharon,
    I share #8 with you but I also have to get over #4 and #6 :(

    Hi DLCurran,
    I'm glad to hear you are involved in the writing community. People always say writing is a solitary career, but it doesn't have to be. I always encourage aspiring writers to join writing organizations and form a writers group. It'll energize you to write some more ;)

  12. Aye, I'm guilty of quite of a few of those unfortunately. The important thing is to try to stay on track and have a clear goal in mind :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  13. I like these I would like to have a print out on my fridge. At the moment I am just beginnning and my short term goals are really clear. Keep thinking and Keep writing, Keep reading. In 6 months time I am going to formulate some further and more structured goals....

  14. Hi WritingNut,
    I think most of us are guilty of some of these pitfalls :( But like you said, as long as we're willing to improve...

    Hi Debs,
    Short term goals work better than long ones. I'm glad to see you around here. Hope you find helpful tips.
    Keep that pen moving! (or typing!)

  15. Yep, I'm a perfectionist. I can't stand to leave something alone if I know I can make it better. This causes me to agonize for hours over a single paragraph. Soooooo stupid.

  16. Hi Anna,
    Yep! A lot of writers are. It's okay as long as you don't let it dictate your writing ;)

  17. Hi :)
    I just wanted to say that I've been looking at your blog a lot the past few weeks.
    I have been inspired for a while lately to pursue writing. I'm still very young...
    All I know is that I want to influence people and make them question different aspects of life.
    I want to thank you for taking the time to create such a helpful blog.
    I too, am from Montreal.

    I don't really know what my blog is. I wouldn't exactly call it philosophical, but it's reflective.

    If you ever have the time to check it out or have any kind of criticism,
    it would be greatly appreciated and would mean a lot to me.

    Thank you :)

  18. Hi Julia,
    Welcome to my blog community! Thank you for your kind words. Comments like yours inspire me to continue doing a good job through my posts. I created this blog to help aspiring writers and I'm happy to hear that a lot of them, like you, find it helpful. :) And yes, I will visit your blog and leave you some comments ;)
    Keep on writing, Julia!