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7 Steps to Go From Slacker to Writing Machine

7 Steps to Go From Slacker to Writing Machine

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    We all love being lazy from time to time, and that’s perfectly alright, as long as it’s done in moderation. However, some of us are less disciplined than others, which means our “lazy” time spills over into our daily obligations. Writers, for instance, are extremely notorious for being lazy and prone to procrastination, which is perhaps best evident through their portrayal in the media. Fictional movie and TV characters such as Californication’s Hank Moody, or Secret Window’s Mort Rainey immediately spring to mind.

    While this image is certainly exaggerated, a lot of writers could use some help when it comes to organizing their time and improving their creative output. Since writing is often seen as heavily dependent on bouts of inspiration and ideas, the writers’ approach to occasional dry spells or writer’s block would be to wait it out, and not do much in the meantime.

    The good news is, not only can you make yourself more productive during those less-inspired periods, but you also can avoid them altogether, and it doesn’t require you to do anything revolutionary, other than making some tweaks to your usual approach and adopting some useful writing habits. No e-books, no magic pills, just 7 essential tips you can use to turn yourself into a writing machine you were supposed to be all along.

    1. Write Down Your Ideas

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    1. Write

      As a writer, you are probably aware that great ideas are hard to come by. There are two ways you can deal with this. The first one would be to do some serious brainstorming, organize and collect your thoughts, and distill them down to ideas you can actually use. The second one would be to always write down those ideas which appear inside your mind at the most unexpected moments and situations.

      Although it may seem like there is absolutely no way you’re going to forget about them, you probably will. You can fix this by writing them down using a piece of pen and paper, your smartphone, or specialized note-taking apps. Even though you may not use them right away, it’s great to have some of them in reserve.

      2. Set a Daily Word Count

      2. Word Count

        Making a decision to write more is commendable, but it only works in theory, because it’s pretty flexible. A better, smarter way of going about it would be to establish a minimum daily word count and fulfill that quota no matter what. Or, you can write for a certain number of hours. This is especially effective if you have a huge workload ahead of you, or if you are writing a novel.

        The idea of tackling such a huge project can be scary, but if you break it down into smaller sections and write a little bit each day, by the end of the month, you will be surprised at how much you’ve gotten done. Make sure the goal is realistic: 500 or 1000 words a day should do fine in the beginning.

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        3. Start Writing at the Same Time Every Day

        3. Time

          One of the reasons why you’re a writer is because you don’t do routines and constrictions, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid having any discipline and structure in your work. You can train yourself to be productive. Along with sticking to a certain word count, another way to make yourself more productive as a writer would be to start working at the same time each day. It will be hard at first, because you have to resist giving into the urge to give yourself and break and make an exception just that one time, which quickly snowballs into full-on procrastination.

          4. Create Your Very Own Writing Space

          4. Space

            If it’s possible, create a workplace for yourself inside your home that will allow you to focus on writing and nothing else, with no distractions that might hinder your progress. Keep your desk clutter-free and populate it with items that will inspire you. Make sure that it’s not your bedroom, the kitchen, or any room with a TV. If you find it too hard to concentrate within the comfort of your own home, give co-working communities a shot.

            5. Limit Non-Essential Activities and Rituals

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            5. Hobbies

              This doesn’t mean that the only thing in your life should be writing, but you can make more time for it if you drop some of the numerous activities which may not seem too time-consuming, but they add up to a significant chunk of time. For example, you can limit the number of hours you spend volunteering, or drop some unpaid writing projects you are currently involved in. Instead of soaking in the bathtub for an hour or two, take a quick shower. Avoid lengthy Netflix binges, watching several movies a week, or going out during business hours.

              6. Follow Writing Blogs

              6. Blogs

                There are countless blogs out there dedicated to writing and helping writers improve their writing skills, grammar, and productivity. Aside from gaining access to useful materials, such as articles, e-books, or webinars, you can also network with other writers and exchange ideas. Also, writing blogs usually contain reviews of writing-related apps which can speed up the writing process, and do some of the work for you, so check them out if you are struggling to be more productive.

                7. Edit after You Are Done Writing

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                  There are several reasons why you should avoid editing your work right away. Once you find yourself in that mode when you are churning out words so fast your fingers can’t seem to keep up with your brain, you should milk it for all it’s worth. Interrupting that process in order to edit is a huge mistake, because you can edit even if you don’t feel particularly creative.

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                  Also, it’s a good idea to set some distance between you and your work, so you can come back to it and edit it with a fresh mind. You’ll find you will be able to spot errors more efficiently and polish your writing the day after, provided that you don’t have a deadline looming over your head.

                  Featured photo credit: letters-keys-typewriter-retro via PixabayPerson animated, The Hunger Games, Now, Cat, 80s, Blog, Movie via Giphy

                  Featured photo credit: Unsplash via pixabay.com

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                  Last Updated on August 19, 2019

                  20 Critical Skills to Include on Your Resume (For All Types of Jobs)

                  20 Critical Skills to Include on Your Resume (For All Types of Jobs)

                  A resume describes your critical skills in a way that compels a hiring manager to want to meet you. That is a resume’s sole purpose.

                  And make no mistake: Writing a resume is an art.

                  Today each corporate job opening attracts 250 resumes on average, and somehow yours will need to rise above the competition. It’s actually harder to snag an interview from an online posting than to get into Harvard. But don’t let that intimidate you. Instead, open your laptop, roll up your proverbial sleeves, and let’s get to work!


                  Employers generally prefer candidates with skills that show leadership ability, problem-solving ability, and perseverance through challenges. So in the resume, you should demonstrate that you’re a dynamic candidate.

                  Refine the skills on your resume so that you incorporate these resume “musts:”

                  1. Leadership Ability

                  Even an entry-level employee can show leadership. Point out how your skills helped your department ascend to a new level. Capture leadership attributes with compelling statements.

                  Example:

                  “Led change that drove efficiency and an ability to cut 800 error-free payroll checks.”

                  2. Problem-Solving Ability

                  Most employees are hired to solve problems. Showcase that ability on your resume.

                  Example:

                  “Led staff in campaign to outrival top competitor’s market share during a down cycle.”

                  3. Perseverance

                  Have you been promoted several times? Or have you maintained margins in a down cycle? Both achievements demonstrate persistence. You look like someone who can navigate roadblocks.

                  4. Technical Skills

                  Consider including a Key Skills or Technology Skills section in which you list computer and software skills.

                  Example:

                  “Expert-level knowledge in Java.”

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                  5. Quantified Results

                  Nothing is quite as attractive as objective results. Did you increase sales by 25 percent? Win three new clients? Surpass the internal goal by 15 percent?

                  Use hard-hitting numbers to express your point. State the result first, and then provide a sentence or phrase describing the critical skills you applied to achieve the milestone.

                  Example:

                  “Boosted sales by 200 percent by developing new online platform that made it easier for customers to compare and contrast sizes, textures, and fit.”

                  6. People Skills

                  Employers prefer congenial staff members to prima donnas or mavericks. Relate your strongest soft skills.

                  Example:

                  “Organized, hard-working staffer who listens well and communicates effectively.”

                  7. Passion in the Field

                  Recruiters and hiring managers can intuit whether candidates care about their career performance by the dynamism behind the descriptions of their skills on their resumes. Are your efforts “transformational” or merely “useful?” Were your results “game-changing” or boringly “appropriate?”

                  The tenor of your words reveals whether you’re passionate or passive. (But don’t overdo it. See the “Hyperbole” section below.)

                  8. Being the Entrepreneur within the Corporation

                  Whether you took the initiative to create a new synergy or worked independently to land an opportunity, share how you furthered organizational goals through your self-directed efforts.

                  9. Your Adaptability

                  Have you switched career paths? Weathered a corporate takeover?

                  Make it clear that your resilience helped get you and your organization through the turbulence.

                  10. Confirming Your Expertise

                  Every job posting states experience requirements. Ideally, you want to meet these requirements or best them. But don’t exaggerate.


                  While proving that you possess the credentials described in the job posting, you can still stand out if you are able to offer additional special skills to showcase your personality.

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                  Consider adding any of these special accomplishments, if true:

                  11. Referencing Award-Winning Talents

                  If you played center on your college basketball team that made it into the Top 10 finals, then working collaboratively and cooperatively are among your natural callings. Be sure to say so.

                  12. Unveiling Your Work Persona

                  If you were repeatedly singled out for your stellar performance in work settings, becoming employee-of-the-month, top revenue generator, and so on — it’s worth mentioning.

                  13. Capitalizing on Commonalities

                  From Googling the hiring manager, you discover that she was formerly a Peace Corps volunteer in Belize. Listing your Spanish immersion course in Central America may draw her attention to the other outstanding skills on your resume.

                  14. Highlighting Creative Tactics

                  If, for example, in your HR role, you piloted an employee incentive program that became an industry model, include it. Such innovative thinking will command an employer’s attention.

                  15. Specifying All Accolades

                  Listing any honors received instills confidence that you will bring that level of perfectionism forward in a corporate environment.

                  16. Transferable Skills

                  You spend your spare time conducting your community orchestra. Highlight this after-hours pursuit to show that you have the critical skills needed to keep a team on task.


                  Take note: Hyperbole can hurt you. So, show your credibility.

                  Although it may be tempting to use embellishments to boost your experience, improve your job title, or enhance your education, resist. These days, a five-minute search will reveal the truth. And taking self-inflation too far could easily come back to destroy your career.

                  Hiring managers have their antenna up for resume hyperbole. A survey shows that 53 percent are suspicious that candidates are often dishonest.

                  Follow these guiding principles when writing your own resume:

                  17. Accurately Describing Your Degree

                  Make sure to differentiate between certificates attained and degrees earned, along with the name of the institution awarding them.

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                  18. Stating Job Duration with Honest Dates

                  Honesty is the only policy when reporting the length of a particular job. If you’ve been out of work for an extended period of time, state the reason you have gaps.

                  Whether you traveled, had to cope with a family emergency, or went back to school to change your professional track, communicate the positive outcome that came from the hiatus.

                  19. Claiming Only the Skills You Truly Possess

                  Unless you’re proficient in a software program or are fluent in a second language, leave any mention of them off.

                  Conversely, if you feel like you must include them, then accurately qualify your level of competence.

                  20. Being Honest About Your Role in a Project

                  You may think you were the lead person because you did most of the work, but chances are your supervisor thinks otherwise.

                  Besides the 20 critical skills to include on your resume, here’re some important notes for you.

                  Bonus Tips for Writing a Resume

                  You Only Have 6 to 7 Seconds to Impress the Employer

                  Hiring managers and artificial intelligence “bots” may spend only 6 to 7 seconds perusing your resume, which means you need it to teem with essential skills, quantifiable achievements, and action words.

                  If, in fact, you believe that a “bot” will be analyzing your resume before it even lands on a hiring manager’s desk, be sure to include some of the actual key words from the posting in your document. There’s no reason why you can’t customize your resume to each job posting.

                  Another tip: Be sure to show your resume to a few individuals who work in your field, so that you can fine-tune the information as needed.

                  Starting at the Top

                  The Objective at the top of your resume is optional if you’re seeking the same job you already have, just at different company. However, if you’re switching fields, it’s critical to include an Objective, which is a one-sentence summary of the job you want.

                  For example:

                  Objective: To become web editor at a thriving news website.

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                  If you’ve been in your field for ten years or more, you will probably want to include an Executive Summary. This is a one-sentence takeaway about who you are, including the critical skills you amassed throughout your career.

                  For example:

                  Executive Summary: Award-winning creative director with over ten years experience managing teams on three continents.

                  Depending on your field, you may also want to add some skills as bullet points in the Executive Summary section.

                  And what about your Education? If you graduated from college within the past ten years, include your Education just below the Objective section (and forgo the Executive Summary). If it’s been over ten years since you graduated, then include your Education at the very end of your resume. Only cite your grade point average (G.P.A.) if it was exceptional—3.7 G.P.A. or higher, or if you won scholastic awards.

                  Ideally, the critical skills you amassed during college, at your previous job, and throughout your career will add up to a riveting portrait of a professional who’s ideally suited for your dream position: You.

                  Tailor, Tweak, and Fine-Tune

                  If you’re targeting different kinds of organizations, you’ll need customized resumes for each outreach.

                  Don’t be afraid to parrot some of the words on the list of requirements back to the company. Many times, organizations will actually use the key words mentioned in the job posting when screening resumes.

                  Approach Your Resume as a Skills-Based Story

                  Like any good storyteller, lay out the framework at the beginning. Include the skills you’ve mastered and state how you can add value—wording your sentences in a way that reflects the specific job you’re seeking.

                  Are you vying for a sales position? Quantify your results: “Responsible for 50 percent of all sales that resulted in $750,000 in annual revenue.” Use your critical skills, peppered throughout your resume, to tell the exciting story of your distinguished professional career!

                  Researching the organization that you’re targeting will help you make your examples specific. Does the company cater to a particular audience or clientele? Be sure to note any experiences you’ve had with similar audiences.

                  Putting It All Together

                  A resume is not a laundry list. It tells a cohesive story. Your story should highlight your qualifications and critical skills in a way that makes a logical, well-constructed case for your compatibility with the organization and its advertised position.

                  Packaging your story into the concisely prescribed format of a resume means that it will read as a synopsis — one that will hopefully land you the job.

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