Saturday, April 6, 2013

The 7 Secrets of the Prolific Writer

Prolific =  definition 1: the person that writes so much stuff you swear they are writing in their sleep; have a staff 12 robot-typist with speeds of 100 words per minute; and three round-the-clock editors that push them mercilessly.

Prolific =  definition 2: Someone who sat in a sound-proof bubble for 25 years, with nothing but a computer and unlimited disk space and just came out and published all their stuff . . . yesterday.

How in the hell, do these people get all this stuff published, written, and edited?  I'm following writers and bloggers and they just seem to pour out article after article, book after book, blog post after blog post -- endlessly.

Don't these people have lives?

Don't their kids need them for something?

Do their dogs have bladders?

Do their spouses demand sex only once a year?

Does something, anything in life get in their way?

That's what I asked all the time, until I discovered what prolific writers do. Once I fell upon their little secrets, it all became clear and easier.  Okay, I'm lying, not easier but at least I'm not so confused -- how about that?

7 Habits of a Prolific Writer

1.  A Prolific Writer takes their work with them where ever they go.  
Not that I'm calling myself a truly prolific writer -- but, I carry Steno Pads with me everywhere.  I buy steno pads and pens by the case and I have them in every bag and in every car that I use. If a stray idea, or even a full article, pops in my head I stop what I'm doing and write it down.  For those pesky times that I can't stop and write things down -- I also have an app on my iPhone that records voice.  I can't tell you how many audio notes to myself I have on this thing.  I also make it a habit type them up as soon as I'm near a computer.  Remember, you haven't the captured the idea until it's set on paper.

2.  A Prolific Writer lives for writing.
Everything you do, see and think about can be used in a blog post, article or book. The ideas are all around you, just waiting for you to capitalize on them. All you need to do is open your eyes to them, make sure you have pad and pen ready (or, audio device ready) to record your observations.

3.  A Prolific Writer grabs ideas, and doesn't let go. 
If a stray idea comes to you, even while you are writing about another topic, write that stray idea down!  Capture it.  Don't say to yourself, "I'll have to remember that." No. Make that idea permanently yours. Remember, you haven't the captured the idea until it's set on paper. 

4.  A Prolific Writer does not second guess the audience. 
Don't second guess your audience.  How many times have you thought of a great topic to write about than then let Ole Mr. Doubt creep in:  "Nah, no one will want to read about that!" (or)  "My audience doesn't care about this." (or, even)  "This would be probably over their head."  You know what?  That's for your audience to know and you to find out.  Offer your idea to your audience, you never know how they'll receive it.  You might just be pleasantly surprised.

5. A Prolific Writer does not over-think it.
You have an idea or a topic to write about -- don't sit and think about it.  Don't try to plan out what you are going to write about.  Don't dream about it.  Don't meditate on it.  Don't play with it.  Write about it.  Just get the ideas out of your head and down on paper - you can edit it later.  Planning is great sometimes, but we can make things bigger and more complicated than they need to be if we over-think the issue.

6.  A Prolific Writer does not aspire toward perfection.
And I'm tell you to stop looking for perfection.  So many times in working with my fellow writers, I hear excuses like: "Just a little more research on this part." (or)  "The words don't flow on that part, I need to rewrite it." (or, even)  "I think someone else just wrote about this particular topic on their blog yesterday, I've got to make mine better or longer or shorter."  Stop.  Perfection can get in your way of success.  Let go of perfection and just do it.

7.  A Prolific Writer breaks things up into smaller pieces.
You know what looks like prolific writing -- several articles.  True, a long article with exploring several points is pretty impressive.  But seven or eight articles on a topic makes the reader think that the author of said articles really knows the ends-and-outs of the topic, don't you think?  Well, prolific writers have figured this out and tend to create smaller pieces out of a larger body of work.  For instances, I could have easily broken up this blog into seven (7) blog posts, examining the 7 Habits of Prolific Writers more deeply.  I would have given my audience seven articles on writing instead of one.  You would have thought I spent weeks on these articles and I really knew my subject well.  But in fact, all I would have done was taken this post and added examples of authors exercising each of these theories.

Dog-gone it, that's what I should have done.  Guess I'm not a Prolific Writer yet.

Well, I hope you aspiring professional writers and bloggers take this advice and flourish.  You have to succeed, I've always wanted powerful and influential friends  -- and I'm counting on you to become one of those.

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  1. Very helpful article. I can take many of your suggestions to heart. I am the world's worst at getting that thought down when I think of it. I always say "I'll remember that and write it oneday!"
    And, I do not.
    Thanks for the push.

  2. I'm so glad that my research and experiences has helped you! I really hope this pushes you to write down all the great new ideas that come to mind. When you don't share your great ideas with the world . . . we (the citizens of the world) lose out! Please, don't let us lose out anymore. Thanks so much for reading my article.

  3. Great Feature! Lots of fantastic tips for beginner and seasoned writers! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thanks for appreciating it Alex.


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