© 2010 Ugur Akinci
I’ve been in writing and publishing business for over 20 years now. Here are ten things I’ve learned during my career that helped me write more, better, and faster.
Apply these methods to increase your productivity and you’ll also end up probably making more money along the way.
1) Specialize in a Topic. When you make research on any given topic, let’s say health care or security software, you end up accumulating a lot of material that you can’t possibly exhaust in a single assignment. You learn the lingo, the concepts and the products, the newsmakers, the special issues, etc . When you accumulate such a body of knowledge, each article, each document you write becomes easier to tackle. You end up not only finishing your assignments progressively quicker but you also start to suggest topics and projects on your own. That way at some point you can actually create the demand for your writings and evolve into the higher-paying role of The Consultant.
2) Specialize in a Format. Go beyond topic specialization and become the master of a specific delivery format as well. For example, mutual funds might be your specialty. But there are so many different ways to deliver that content: newsletters, direct sales letters, help files, blog posts, speeches, user guides, autoresponder series, etc. If you try to do all of them you will dilute your image. When you deliver consistently in one format (“white papers,” for example) then it’ll be easier for you to get assignments in that format since you’ll be recognized as an authority and you’ll be able to charge more for the same work.
3) Repeat Business. It’s always easier to get a new assignment from an existing customer or editor than a new one. Developing new leads and new customers is harder than getting a new assignment from a party who already knows you, trusts you, and has even paid you. Never stop developing new prospects but don’t stop knocking on the same door twice or more either. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s only money in it 🙂
4) Forget Perfection (surprised?). Don’t lose precious time and sleep over trying to create the “perfect” book, article, or document. It never will be. No matter how much you try, no matter how many times you edit your work, there’ll always be a way to improve it. Professional writing life is about doing your level best and then getting on with the next assignment. As writer Cameron Foote said: “The clients are looking for good, not great.” Learn to live with your perception of uncertainty and imperfection. You’ll become much more productive and thus become a better writer as a result. Otherwise you’ll agonize over every little mistake you make, miss your deadlines, and soon start looking for another line of work. Don’t do it.
5) Joy is Speed. Write what you love writing about and perhaps even dream about at night. I, for example, love technical communication, running, and movies. That’s why I’ve written a lot on all these three topics. When work is play it gives you joy, you write very fast. Then writing is not punishment but plain crazy fun for which you are actually paid – imagine!
6) Get it in Writing. There’s nothing worse than working days and weeks on an assignment and then finding out that the other party has changed its mind and decided not to pay you. That ruins not only your spirits but your bank account and your reputation as well. Get a contract in writing, signed by all parties; or at least an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding). When you are paid regularly and reliably, your confidence will soar and you’ll write quickly, with authority and joy. You’ll automatically help yourself become an even better writer.
7) Have Space. Create Space. Have your own room or corner to write in. You may be working from home but dress well before you sit down before your computer, just as though you were working in a large office. Have all your books, folders, reference materials close by. Forget about email – don’t check it once every 5 minutes. Do it only 3 times a day – in the morning, noon, then at night. Switch off your cell phone or at least forget about texting when you are writing. Immerse yourself in your work with your whole heart and mind. Let your work become your one-pointed meditation. Your productivity will take off like a rocket.
8] Rise Early. Go to bed early and start your day with the birds and the sun. That’s when the business world wakes up too. There are very few distractions when you wake up early in the morning. Your mind will be fresh, if you’ve slept the night before. After a good breakfast (even a workout at the gym if you’re into exercising) you’ll be ready to blast through your assignments.
9) Have Big Plans to do well. If you target to make $10,000 a year, you’ll probably end up making half of that. Plan on making a million dollars and you’ll soon find your mind churning up a step-by-step procedure to make a six-figure income. Our minds always fill in the space that we create for them. If you start with meager goals, you will end up accomplishing just that, meager goals, despite the fact that we all have 24 hours. Break down your goal into small chunks (“How much do I need to make every day, every week, and every month to make $100,000 a year?”) and enjoy your big pie in small morsels.
10) Go with the Creative Flow. When you’re on a roll, don’t shut down the fountain of inspiration just because you’ve finished an article or an assignment. If you feel like writing more on the same topic, keep on rolling. You never know what you’ll end up with. Even if you cannot use the new material for your existing client, you can perhaps use it for some other occasion and sell it to someone else. Reverse is also true: when you feel stuck, take a break. Don’t try to force your way through a dry hour or two because it’ll show in your work. Step back, go take a walk, have a cup of fruit juice, perhaps even go to a movie and then return to your work with a fresh perspective. Go easy on yourself and you’ll produce more in less time.
If you’d like to learn dozens more tips and techniques of becoming a more productive writer check out this affiliated ebook: Super-Productivity for Writers by Bob Bly.
Write well, fast, and prosper.
P.S. Super-Productivity for Writers not only comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee but also a free 50-page Bonus Report, How to Write Better and Faster that you can keep no matter what.