As a writer, I am more productive now than I have ever been in the past.
The reason why I am so productive these days is because I have learned to focus.
Staying focused is a daily battle for me, as it is with most people. At any minute of the day, there are always a ton of distractions waiting in the wings ready to drag me away from what I really want and need to be doing.
To combat all those distractions, I have developed a battle plan of sorts that allows me to get shit done and continue to make progress.
So what follows is every tactic I use to stay prolific and get the right shit done.
1. I Get Clear On My Purpose And Goals
I’ve always known that my true purpose in life was to be a writer, but even knowing this instinctively for years didn’t help.
Not until I fully accepted it and did everything I could to follow and stay true to it.
Knowing your purpose is one thing. Following your purpose is quite another.
I have written a few posts on this blog that go into detail about my path to becoming a writer, so I won’t talk too much about it here. Needless to say, it was a difficult path, and a long one. It was only a few years ago that I managed to get on the right path, and stay on it.
It is that sense of purpose-that drive to succeed-that keeps me working every day.
It is hard to be productive at something when you are not even sure if you should be doing it.
If you want to find any kind of success as a writer , you have to know at the bottom of your soul that writing is what you want to do, and that it is your main purpose in life to do it.
Once you get clear on your purpose and cement it into place, it makes focusing on the work that much easier, because you know this is what you are meant to be doing.
Without that clear sense of purpose and drive to succeed, you will fall at the first hurdle when fear and doubt set in.
So the message is clear: know your purpose and base your whole life around fulfilling that purpose.
Once you do, the rest of what I am about to talk about will come easier.
As far as setting goals, I have never been a big goal setter. I basically set my goals by whatever I have to write.
A long term goal for me would be to complete a novel from start to finish. Sub-goals would be to simply write another chapter or try for x amount of words in a session (I usually strive for a minimum of 2000 words per session). That is about as detailed as my goals tend to get. I don’t put time frames on those goals.
I am happy as long as I am doing something everyday to try and reach those goals. I don’t always succeed, but most days I do. I make steady, incremental progress.
Using this method, I have found I get a lot of shit done without putting needless pressure on myself.
2. I Have Faith In The Process
What process? I hear you ask.
The creative process, and also the process of success itself.
In both cases, it is a question of working smart, but also of just working full stop.
My faith comes from the fact that I know if I just keep working, and that if I do the work as smartly as I can, that I will get the results I want.
It is hard to predict the exact nature of those results for lots of reasons.
But one thing I am sure off: If I keep doing the work, I will get results, and those results will get better and better over time. That has been my experience so far.
With each passing day, as I continue to do the work and maintain faith in the process, my results improve incrementally. The work I do gets better, and the results of that work become better also.
Things improve every day, which helps me maintain my faith in what I am doing, and my faith that things will keep on improving as long as I do the work.
3. I Start Things
I worry less about finishing things than I do about starting them.
To finish something, you have to start it in the first place. So starting things is more important, I think. Once you start something, it is easier to finish it than if you never started it at all.
So every day, I sit down and I start something new. Whether that be a new book, or a new chapter, or a new marketing plan or tactic, I start it. I have learned that when I start things, I generally end up finishing them.
Remember that faith in the process I talked about? That’s what helps me finish what I start.
So I don’t worry all that much about finishing stuff. I just try to make sure that I start a lot of stuff instead, because that keeps me productive, which in turn helps me-you guessed it!-finish a lot of stuff.
4. I Live In A Bubble
Not literally, of course, but over the last several years, I have done my utmost to create and control the reality in which I live.
This means that I don’t have a TV in the house anymore. No Lucifer’s Dreambox beaming away in the corner of the room all day and night, rotting my brain and putting too much of the wrong stuff in there. I watch selected shows on my laptop now, which isn’t the same as having a TV. I control everything that I watch, and most importantly, I don’t get subjected to endless adverts and negative programming like the news or soaps or whatever reality TV bullshit happens to be airing. Fuck all that! I just watch the good shit now, quality programs that actually inspire me as a writer.
I also don’t read newspapers or otherwise take much notice of the ever confusing and fucked up world in which we live, and I do my best to keep all negative influences out of my bubble, including negative people.
Jonathan Mead from Paid To Exist blog calls this kind of thing “firewalling”, although he uses the term to mean blocking out distractions so you can get shit done, which is just as important.
So there are two types of firewalling.
Firewalling on a grand scale means taking total control of your life and allowing into it only the things that help you fulfill your purpose and make you an all round better person.
On a smaller scale, firewalling means blocking out distracions like socal media so you can work. What I do here is try to get the work done first, then I will allow myself to indulge in those things, after the work has been done.
5. I Hold Myself Accountable To My Fans
Last but not least, I hold myself accountable to my fans, and more specifically, to the people in my Watchers Inner Circle. Inner Circle members are my biggest fans. They help me out with reviews and promotion. They also love the books that I write.
When you have a bunch of people who expect you to keep releasing books for their enjoyment, that really helps in insuring you get your butt in the chair so you can keep putting out those new releases that people expect from you.
My fans and Inner Circle members are everything to me. They are rapidly becoming the whole reason why I continue to write books, because I want to give those people what they want.
It is a way for writers like me to give something of value to other people that will hopefully give them a positive experience in someway.
And at the end of the day, that is what it is all about, the whole reason we have this sense of purpose in the first place: so we can use it to serve others in our own particular way.
We Are Human And Therefore We Fail (All The Fucking Time!)
I just want to stress here that although I try to follow all of the above things to the letter, there are days when I simply don’t. Days crop up when I really struggle to get anything at all done, either because I don’t feel like it, or for some other reason.
The point is, we are only human. It is easy to forget that sometimes, in this mad rush to get shit done and reach that success most of us crave so badly.
It is the human experience to fail at stuff over and over again. It is how we learn and make progress. Failure is part of the process. So don’t feel bad when you fail to meet your own expectations, or those of others.
(More on that in this article I wrote for Write To Done.)
The value of focus is that it can allow you to more easily accept your failures, and to keep moving forward anyway.
That right there is how you succeed.