Learn what productivity means to you

Sage CohenProductive writing3 Comments

Now that you’ve made a case for your future by studying what is being accomplished and who you admire in your field, celebrated down to the last comma all that went well in your writing life in 2010, and dreamed big about your Productive Writing Life, let’s drill down to some details of exactly who you are and what you want. Following are some questions you can consider as you start to articulate your personal productivity values and standards. I recommend that you write something down now, even if you’re not sure of the answer, and return to these questions over time. It can be a useful record of how you are growing and what you are learning about yourself and your writing life.

Productivity Defined (by You!)

How do I define “productive writing life”?

  • What does a productive writing life look and feel like? What does it accomplish? What are its “office hours” and writing rhythms? What else, in addition to writing, happens in that life, and what is the work/life balance?
  • What writers and authors do I admire?
  • What can I learn from their unique approaches to productivity?
  • What have I read, observed, gleaned over the years about how a productive writing life gets established and nurtured?

How am I productive today?

  • What am I accomplishing that I value?
  • What skills and strategies am I using to do so?
  • What technologies and tools are serving me best?
  • What attitudes and habits are in line with my values and goals?
  • Who in my community today is contributing to my productivity—through friendship, collaboration, mentorship, a critique group, writing dates, or something else?

How do I intend to be more productive moving forward?

  • What do I want to accomplish in my writing life—both the big-picture long term, and the specifics of the immediate future? (List the names, descriptions and desired completion dates of each desired goal or project.)
  • What skills and strategies are likely to help me accomplish this?
  • What technologies and tools do I intend to learn and use, and how do I expect them to help me?
  • What habits or beliefs can I choose or improve to achieve greater productivity?
  • Is there additional knowledge or expertise that could help me become more productive?
  • Who do I know (or who do I want to know), such as friends, colleagues, or teachers, who might help me become more productive?

Now that you have a clear picture of what productivity means to you, how it’s showing up in your life now, and how you intend to cultivate it in the future, what do you notice? How do you feel? What are you thinking now?

In my experience, a good image (such as this portrait of your productivity) can bridge the gap between desire and accomplishment. Not because it tells you how to get where you’re going, but because it helps you set your sights clearly, then recognize when you have arrived.

3 Comments on “Learn what productivity means to you”

  1. Hi Sage,

    I just wanted to say I LOVE YOUR NEW BOOK! I just finished it yesterday and was able to relate to your words on many levels.

    I’m hoping to have my rave review posted on my blog this weekend so I can spread the word on how kick-ass you are! 🙂

    Congrats, and I look forward to keeping in touch.

  2. My pleasure! And as soon as I’ve caught up on my backlog of work from the holidays, I am purchasing your Writing the Life Poetic book for some new insights into my own writing. 🙂

    I’ll e-mail you once the review is up.

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