Advertising

7 Essential Tips You Need To Follow If You Want To Start Writing

Advertising
7 Essential Tips You Need To Follow If You Want To Start Writing

Progressions in technology and global inter-connectivity have made writing more desirable today than ever before. Personal virtual notebooks, massive audiences and the increasing ease in which they can be reached – a few strokes of the keyboard and our opinions can traverse the world, gathering momentum and unifying voices from all corners of the globe.

However, while it may be more convenient to get started on your next piece (blogs and websites are revolutionizing the game), it has become more difficult to experience the essence of the activity itself. As much as we’re currently writing to influence others – to give advice or express opinion – we risk losing sight of the serenity that can accompany the activity. All in all, if you truly want to start writing, follow the tips listed below .

1. Write for Yourself

“Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.” –Robert A. Heinlein

Figure out what it is that you want to gain out of writing. Do you want to shoot for the stars and make a career out of it? Or do you want to formulate a hobby around writing, embark on personal poetic endeavors and journal your way through life? If you’re interested in the latter, keep reading, otherwise skip to the next point if you’re looking to profit off of your pieces. Learn to rely on writing as a tool at your disposal. Journal your thoughts and ambitions, record your to-do’s and achievements. Not only does it help you to organize yourself and your thoughts, but it prompts you to actually sit down for several moments a day and have your time with the keyboard or pen.

2. Don’t Expect to Make a Living

“The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.” – Robert Benchley

If you happen to decide that you want to begin a career as an author, find out first how you can live without paying any bills for several years. Unless you have the means at your disposal and some phenomenal luck, don’t expect to profit off of writing at the snap of a finger. Thankfully, the world in which we live today is so connected that there are a number of paid gigs available for freelance writers. However, even these require a reputable portfolio blooming with published articles. It’s not impossible, nor is it even that difficult – it just requires a ton of effort and even more time. If you don’t want to set yourself up for failure, treat it as a hobby at first and then see where it may take you.

Advertising

3. Write, Write, Write

Writing is its own reward” – Henry Miller

If all you do is write, then you’re never doing it wrong. If you’re truly passionate about writing, let it infect your mind to the point that you always find your fingers typing away at something. Essays, blogs, short stories – there are so many ways in which you can let yourself become addicted. The number one piece of advice that is circulating from mouth to ear all over the world is that you have to start with a blog. Everyone’s doing it. Start one for yourself and commit to it. One of the hardest things to do is to find time. If you work full-time and run a family, it’s very difficult to seclude yourself and fire off a few paragraphs or pages. Many authors convey the notion of waking up two hours before starting their day jobs just to write. If you don’t have the time, make the time; writing is a costly investment that can offer ample rewards – mostly intangible in nature.

4. Learn to Share Your Work and Absorb Opinion

Beware of advice—even this.” – Carl Sandburg

It may be one of the most terrifying things you can ever do: to show someone a piece of writing that you’ve poured your efforts into. Aside from the A+ essay you bring home to mom or the proposal you’ve stitched together at work, it can take a lot of courage to put yourself out there and expose yourself to potentially critical feedback, which leads to the next point of adequately absorbing opinion. If you can’t take the criticism, don’t play the game of writing before the public eye. Writing is an immensely subjective activity – be prepared for objective perspectives that can shatter your confidence. In contrast, don’t become over-reliant on praise either. Take all positive feedback with a grain of salt, especially if the source is from a friend or someone who just wants to be supportive. On the other hand, don’t be devastated from negative opinion – it can be a necessary voice that you ought to hear, a vessel through which progress can be made.

5. Finish Your Work

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” – Philip Roth

Any writer will agree that it’s an extremely difficult thing to do – to wrap up certain pieces. You’re probably not a born writer if you have a closet (or desktop folder) filled with story after uncompleted story. This more so applies to those who dare to delve into the imaginative world of fiction writing. Deadlines can help you wrap things up and keep an end in sight, as it’s easy to get carried away. Find a way to stay inspired and committed to whatever it is you’re writing. At any rate, ensure that once you commit to something, you never let the flame dim and die – fiction or non.

Advertising

6. Let Your Pen/Keyboard Guide You

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way” – E. L. Doctorow

Don’t expect to plan every chapter of your next book, or every topic of your next string of blogs. You discover so much more than you’d ever be able to brainstorm halfway through writing any given piece. In reference to the aforesaid point, this is one reason why a piece may remain unfinished; it can certainly be overwhelming. The magic that sprouts from writing is in its ability to captivate not only the readers reading but the writers themselves.

7. Connect

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” – Ernest Hemingway

Thanks to the increasing inter-connectivity of the world, it’s so easy to write before a world-wide audience, to gain experience and the know-how’s to be great author – you’re doing it right now. Take it a step further and reach out to a published author, someone who’s been there and done it (and even made it), and ask them for their number one piece of advice. I did, several years ago, and in response I was told to write and never stop writing, prompting me to convey it as the third point listed in this article. Beyond the actual tip, it sticks in your mind every time you think about writing, fuels the fire that serves to inspire you.

Subsequently, if you want to start writing with the intention of turning it into a profitable talent, expect to be on the road towards success for quite a while. The best you can do is to immerse yourself in the experience, let it better your day-to-day life and see where it ultimately takes you. 

More by this author

Michael Woronko

Michael shares about tips on self-development and happiness on Lifehack.

What Makes People Happy? 20 Secrets of “Always Happy” People The Power of Self-Reflection: 10 Questions You Should Ask Yourself 4 Ways To Psychologically Manipulate Someone Why Experiencing Failure Is Necessary Before Becoming Successful Addiction To Selfies: A Mental Disorder?

Trending in Productivity

1 Are You Addicted to Productivity? 2 Is Avoiding Difficult Tasks And Doing Easy Tasks First Less Productive? 3 How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data) 4 10 Best Productivity Planners To Get More Done in 2021 5 13 Steps to Build a Positive Habit Stacking Routine

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Are You Addicted to Productivity?

Advertising
Are You Addicted to Productivity?

“It’s great to be productive. It really is. But sometimes, we chase productivity so much that it makes us, well, unproductive. It’s easy to read a lot about how to be more productive, but don’t forget that you have to make that time up.”

Matt Cutts wrote that back in 2013,[1]

“Today, search for ‘productivity’ and Google will come back with about 663,000,000 results. If you decide to go down this rabbit hole, you’ll be bombarded by a seemingly endless amount of content. I’m talking about books, blogs, videos, apps, podcasts, scientific studies, and subreddits all dedicated to productivity.”

Like so many other people, I’ve also fallen into this trap. For years I’ve been on the lookout for trends and hacks that will help me work faster and more efficiently — and also trends that help me help others to be faster. I’ve experimented with various strategies and tools . And, while some of these strategies and solutions have been extremely useful — without parsing out what you need quickly — it’s counterproductive.

Sometimes you end up spending more time focusing on how to be productive instead of actually being productive.

“The most productive people I know don’t read these books, they don’t watch these videos, they don’t try a new app every month,” James Bedell wrote in a Medium post.[2] “They are far too busy getting things done to read about Getting Things Done.”

This is my mantra:

I proudly say, “I am addicted to productivity — I want to be addicted to productivity — productivity is my life and my mission — and I also want to find the best way to lead others through productivity to their best selves.

But most of the time productivity means putting your head down and working until the job’s done.” –John Rampton

Addiction to Productivity is Real

Dr. Sandra Chapman, director of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for BrainHealth points out that the brain can get addicted to productivity just as it can to more common sources of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, eating, and shopping.

Advertising

“A person might crave the recognition their work gives them or the salary increases they get,” Chapman told the BBC.[3] “The problem is that just like all addictions, over time, a person needs more and more to be satisfied, and then it starts to work against you. Withdrawal symptoms include increased anxiety, depression, and fear.”

Despite the harmful consequences, addiction is considered by some experts as a brain disease that affects the brain’s reward system and ends in compulsive behavior. Regardless, society tends to reward productivity — or at least to treat it positively. As a result, this makes the problem even worse.

“It’s seen like a good thing: the more you work, the better,” adds Chapman. “Many people don’t realize the harm it causes until a divorce occurs and a family is broken apart, or the toll it takes on mental health.”

Because of the occasional negative issues with productivity, it’s no surprise that it is considered a “mixed-blessing addiction.”

“A workaholic might be earning a lot of money, just as an exercise addict is very fit,” explains Dr. Mark Griffiths, distinguished professor of behavioral addiction at Nottingham Trent University. “But the thing about any addiction is that in the long run, the detrimental effects outweigh any short-term benefits.”

“There may be an initial period where the individual who is developing a work addiction is more productive than someone who isn’t addicted to work, but it will get to a point when they are no longer productive, and their health and relationships are affected,” Griffiths writes in Psychology Today.[4] “It could be after one year or more, but if the individual doesn’t do anything about it, they could end up having serious health consequences.”

“For instance, I speculated that the consequences of work addiction may be reclassified as something else: If someone ends up dying of a work-related heart attack, it isn’t necessarily seen as having anything to do with an addiction per se – it might be attributed to something like burnout,” he adds.

There Are Three “Distinct Extreme Productivity Types

Cyril Peupion, a Sydney-based productivity expert, has observed extreme productivity among clients at both large and medium-sized companies. “Most people who come to me are high performers and very successful. But often, the word they use to describe their work style is ‘unsustainable,’ and they need help getting it back on track.”

By changing their work habits, Peupion assists teams and individuals improve their performance and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the overarching strategy of the business, rather than focusing on work as a means to an end. He has distinguished three types of extreme productivity in his classification: efficiency obsessive, selfishly productive, and quantity-obsessed.

Efficiency obsessive. “Their desks are super tidy and their pens are probably color-coded. They are the master of ‘inbox zero.’ But they have lost sight of the big picture, and don’t know the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.”

Advertising

Selfishly productive. “They are so focused on their own world that if they are asked to do something outside of it, they aren’t interested. They do have the big picture in mind, but the picture is too much about them.”

Quantity-obsessed. “They think; ‘The more emails I respond to, the more meetings I attend, the more tasks I do, the higher my performance.’ As a result, they face a real risk of burnout.”

Peupion believes that “quantity obsessed” individuals are the most common type “because there is a pervasive belief that ‘more’ means ‘better’ at work.”

The Warning Signs of Productivity Addiction

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself if you think you may be succumbing to productivity addiction. After all, most of us aren’t aware of this until it’s too late.

  • Can you tell when you’re “wasting” time? If so, have you ever felt guilty about it?
  • Does technology play a big part in optimizing your time management?
  • Do you talk about how busy you are most of the time? In your opinion, is hustling better than doing less?
  • What is your relationship with your email inbox? Are you constantly checking it or experience phantom notifications?
  • When you only check one item off your list, do you feel guilty?
  • Does stress from work interfere with your sleep?
  • Have you been putting things off, like a vacation or side project, because you’re “too swamped?

The first step toward turning around your productivity obsession is to recognize it. If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then it’s time to make a plan to overcome your addiction to productivity.

Overcoming Your Productivity Addiction

Thankfully, there are ways to curb your productivity addiction. And, here are 9 such ways to achieve that goal.

1. Set Limits

Just because you’re hooked on productivity doesn’t mean you have to completely abstain from it. Instead, you need to establish boundaries.

For example, there are a lot of amazing productivity podcasts out there. But, that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them all in the course of a day. Instead, you could listen to one or two podcasts, like The Productivity Podcast or Before Breakfast, during your commute. And, that would be your only time of the day to get your productivity fix.

2. Create a Not-to-Do List

Essentially, the idea of a not-to-do list is to eliminate the need to practice self-discipline. Getting rid of low-value tasks and bad habits will allow you to focus on what you really want to do as opposed to weighing the pros and cons or declining time requests. More importantly, this prevents you from feeling guilty about not crossing everything off an unrealistic to-do list.

3. Be Vulnerable

By this, I mean admitting where you could improve. For example, if you’re new to remote work and are struggling with thi s, you would only focus on topics in this area. Suggestions would be how to create a workspace at home, not getting distracted when the kids aren’t in school, or improving remote communication and collaboration with others.

Advertising

4. Understand Why You Procrastinate

Often, we procrastinate to minimize negative emotions like boredom or stress. Other times it could be because it’s a learned trait, underestimating how long it takes you to complete something or having a bias towards a task.

Regardless of the exact reason, we end up doing busy work, scrolling social media, or just watching one more episode of our favorite TV series. And, even though we know that it’s not for the best, we do things that make us feel better than the work we should do to restore our mood.[5]

There are a lot of ways to overcome procrastination. But, the first step is to be aware of it so that you can take action. For example, if you’re dreading a difficult task, don’t just watch Netflix. Instead, procrastinate more efficiently,y like returning a phone call or working on a client pitch.

5. Don’t Be a Copycat

Let’s keep this short and sweet. When you find a productivity app or technique that works for you, stick with it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make adjustments along the way or try new tools or hacks. However, the main takeaway should be that just because someone swears by the Pomodoro Technique doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for you.

6. Say Yes to Less

Across the board, your philosophy should be less is more.

That means only download the apps you actually use and want to keep (after you try them out) and uninstall the ones you don’t use. For example, are you currently reading a book on productivity? Don’t buy your next book until you’ve finished the one you’re currently reading (or permit yourself to toss a book that isn’t doing you any good). — and if you really want to finish a book more quickly, listen to the book on your way to work and back.

Already have plans this weekend? Don’t commit to a birthday party. And, if you’re day is booked, decline that last-minute meeting request.

7. Stop Focusing on What’s Next

“In the age when purchasing a thing from overseas is just one click and talking to another person is one swipe right, acquiring new objects or experiences can be addictive like anything else,” writes Patrick Banks for Lifehack .

“That doesn’t need to be you,” he adds. “You can stop your addition to ‘the next thing’ starting today.” After all, “there will always be this next thing if you don’t make a conscious decision to get your life back together and be the one in charge.”

Advertising

  • Think about your current lifestyle and the person you’re at this stage to help you identify what you aren’t satisfied with.
  • By setting clear goals for yourself in the future, you will be able to overcome your addiction.
  • Establish realistic goals.
  • To combat addiction, you must be aware of what is going on around you, as well as inside your head, at any given time.
  • Don’t spend time with people who have unhealthy behaviors.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • Keep a journal and write out what you want to overcome.
  • Appreciate no longer being addicted to what’s next.

8. Simplify

Each day, pick one priority task. That’s it. As long as you concentrate on one task at a time, you will be less likely to get distracted or overwhelmed by an endless list of tasks. A simple mantra to live by is: work smarter, not harder.

The same is also accurate with productivity hacks and tools. Bullet journaling is a great example. Unfortunately, for many, a bullet journal is way more time-consuming and overwhelming than a traditional planner.

9. Learn How to Relax

“Sure, we need to produce sometimes, especially if we have to pay the bills, but, banning obsession with productivity is unhealthy,” writes Leo Babauta. “When you can’t get yourself to be productive, relax.” Don’t worry about being hyper-efficient. And, don’t beat yourself up about having fun.

“But what if you can’t motivate yourself … ever?” he asks. “Sure, that can be a problem. But if you relax and enjoy yourself, you’ll be happier.”

“And if you work when you get excited, on things you’re excited about, and create amazing things, that’s motivation,” Leo states. “Not forcing yourself to work when you don’t want to, on things you don’t want to work on — motivation is doing things you love when you get excited.”

But, how exactly can you relax? Here are some tips from Leo;

  • Spend 5 minutes walking outside and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Give yourself more time to accomplish things. Less rushing means less stress.
  • If you can, get outside after work to enjoy nature.
  • Play like a child. Even better? Play with your kids. And, have fun at work — maybe give gamification a try .
  • Take the day off, rest, and do something non-work-related.
  • Allow yourself an hour of time off. Try not to be productive during that time. Just relax.
  • You should work with someone who is exciting. Make your project exciting.
  • Don’t work in the evenings. Seriously.
  • Visit a massage therapist.
  • Just breathe.

“Step by step, learn to relax,” he suggests. “Learn that productivity isn’t everything.” For that statement, sorry Leo, I say productivity isn’t everything — it’s the only thing.” However, if you can’t cut loose, relax, do fun things, and do the living part of your life — you’ll crack in a big way — you really will.

It’s great to create and push forward — just remember it doesn’t mean that every minute must be spent working or obsessing over productivity issues. Instead, invest your time in meaningful, high-impact work, get into it, focus, put in big time and then relax.

Are You Addicted to Productivity? was originally published on Calendar by John Rampton.

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

Read Next