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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 October 13, 2020

                  How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

                  How to Get Promoted When You Feel Stuck in Your Current Position

                  Have you been stuck in the same position for too long and don’t really know how to get promoted and advance your career?

                  Feeling stuck could be caused by a variety of things:

                  • Taking a job for the money
                  • Staying with an employer that no longer aligns with your values
                  • Realizing that you landed yourself in the wrong career
                  • Not feeling valued or feeling underutilized
                  • Taking a position without a full understanding of the role

                  There are many other reasons why you may be feeling this way, but let’s focus instead on learning what to do now in order to get unstuck and get promoted

                  One of the best ways to get promoted is by showing how you add value to your organization. Did you make money, save money, improve a process, or do some other amazing thing? How else might you demonstrate added value?

                  Let’s dive right in to how to get promoted when you feel stuck in your current position.

                  1. Be a Mentor

                  When I supervised students, I used to warm them — tongue in cheek, of course — about getting really good at their job.

                  “Be careful not to get too good at this, or you’ll never get to do anything else.”

                  This was my way of pestering them to take on additional challenges or think outside the box, but there is definitely some truth in doing something so well that your manager doesn’t trust anyone else to do it.

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                  This can get you stuck.

                  Jo Miller of Be Leaderly shares this insight on when your boss thinks you’re too valuable in your current job:

                  “Think back to a time when you really enjoyed your current role…You became known for doing your job so well that you built up some strong ‘personal brand’ equity, and people know you as the go-to-person for this particular job. That’s what we call ‘a good problem to have’: you did a really good job of building a positive perception about your suitability for the role, but you may have done ‘too’ good of a job!”[1]

                  With this in mind, how do you prove to your employer that you can add value by being promoted?

                  From Miller’s insight, she talks about building your personal brand and becoming known for doing a particular job well. So how can you link that work with a position or project that will earn you a promotion?

                  Consider leveraging your strengths and skills.

                  Let’s say that the project you do so well is hiring and training new entry-level employees. You have to post the job listing, read and review resumes, schedule interviews, make hiring decisions, and create the training schedules. These tasks require skills such as employee relations, onboarding, human resources software, performance management, teamwork, collaboration, customer service, and project management. That’s a serious amount of skills!

                  Are there any team members who can perform these skills? Try delegating and training some of your staff or colleagues to learn your job. There are a number of reasons why this is a good idea:

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                  1. Cross-training helps in any situation in the event that there’s an extended illness and the main performer of a certain task is out for a while.
                  2. As a mentor to a supervisee or colleague, you empower them to increase their job skills.
                  3. You are already beginning to demonstrate that added value to your employer by encouraging your team or peers to learn your job and creating team players.

                  Now that you’ve trained others to do that work for which you have been so valued, you can see about re-requesting that promotion. Explain how you have saved the company money, encouraged employees to increase their skills, or reinvented that project of yours.

                  2. Work on Your Mindset

                  Another reason you may feel stuck in a position is explained through this quote:

                  “If you feel stuck at a job you used to love, it’s normally you—not the job—who needs to change. The position you got hired for is probably the exact same one you have now. But if you start to dread the work routine, you’re going to focus on the negatives.”[2]

                  In this situation, you should pursue a conversation with your supervisor and share your thoughts and feelings to help you learn how to get promoted. You can probably get some advice on how to rediscover the aspects of that job you enjoyed, and negotiate either some additional duties or a chance to move up.

                  Don’t express frustration. Express a desire for more.

                  Present your case and show your boss or supervisor that you want to be challenged, and you want to move up. You want more responsibility in order to continue moving the company forward. Focus on how you can do that with the skills you have and the positive mindset you’ve cultivated.

                  3. Improve Your Soft Skills

                  When was the last time you put focus and effort into upping your game with those soft skills? I’m talking about those seemingly intangible things that make you the experienced professional in your specific job skills[3].

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                  Use soft skills when learning how to get promoted.

                    According to research, improving soft skills can boost productivity and retention 12 percent and deliver a 250 percent return on investment based on higher productivity and retention[4]. Those are only some of the benefits for both you and your employer when you want to learn how to get promoted.

                    You can hone these skills and increase your chances of promotion into a leadership role by taking courses or seminars.

                    Furthermore, you don’t necessarily need to request funding from your supervisor. There are dozens of online courses being presented by entrepreneurs and authors about these very subjects. Udemy and Creative Live both feature online courses at very reasonable prices. And some come with completion certificates for your portfolio!

                    Another way to improve your soft skills is by connecting with an employee at your organization who has a position similar to the one you want.

                    Express your desire to move up in the organization, and ask to shadow that person or see if you can sit in on some of their meetings. Offer to take that individual out for coffee and ask what their secret is! Take copious notes, and then immerse yourself in the learning.

                    The key here is not to copy your new mentor. Rather, you want to observe, learn, and then adapt according to your strengths.

                    4. Develop Your Strategy

                    Do you even know specifically why you want to learn how to get promoted? Do you see a future at this company? Do you have a one-year, five-year, or ten-year plan for your career path? How often do you consider your “why” and insure that it aligns with your “what”?

                    Sit down and make an old-fashioned pro and con list.

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                    Write down every positive aspect of your current job and then every negative one. Which list is longer? Are there any themes present?

                    Look at your lists and choose the most exciting pros and the most frustrating cons. Do those two pros make the cons worth it? If you can’t answer that question with a “yes,” then getting promoted at your current organization may not be what you really want[5].

                    The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. —Mark Twain

                    Here are some questions to ask yourself:

                    • Why do you do what you do?
                    • What thrills you about your current job role or career?
                    • What does a great day look like?
                    • What does success look and feel like beyond the paycheck?
                    • How do you want to feel about your impact on the world when you retire?

                    Define success to get promoted

                      These questions would be great to reflect on in a journal or with your supervisor in your next one-on-one meeting. Or, bring it up with one of your work friends over coffee.

                      Final Thoughts

                      After considering all of these points and doing your best to learn how to get promoted, what you might find is that being stuck is your choice. Then, you can set yourself on the path of moving up where you are, or moving on to something different.

                      Because sometimes the real promotion is finding your life’s purpose.

                      More Tips on How to Get Promoted

                      Featured photo credit: Razvan Chisu via unsplash.com

                      Reference

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