Joanna Penn writes non-fiction for authors and is an award-nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author as J.F.Penn. She's also an award-winning podcaster, creative entrepreneur, and international professional speaker.

Productivity for Authors by Joanna Penn

Do you want to write more but feel frustrated at your lack of time?

Are you doing 'busy' work instead moving toward your creative goals?

Is your To Do list overwhelming?

It's time to stop, reassess and take control of your time — and this book will help you discover the path to becoming a productive writer.

Learn how to:
-Identify what's really stopping you from reaching your goals
-Say no and set boundaries for others — and for yourself
-Find more time to write
-Make the most of your writing time
-Dictate your words for a more efficient and healthy writing life
-Use outsourcing to buy yourself more creative time
-Work with co-writers to produce more books
-Use tools for specific aspects of productivity
-Focus on physical and mental health to boost your productive time

I've been writing and publishing for over a decade and in this book, I'll share my lessons learned in order to help you become more productive and, hopefully, save you time, money and heartache along the way.




Chapter 1: What is stopping you from being productive?

Before we get started, it's important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. No magic tool or technique is going to fix your productivity unless you also consider your mindset and the obstacles that are in your way. Be honest with yourself. There's no one here to judge you.

What is stopping you from being productive in your writing life?

Here are some common answers:

•I don't have time to write

•I don't know what to do when I have the time, so I don't spend it effectively

•I know what I have to do, and I've made the time, but I end up procrastinating and not achieving much

•I spend too much time on things like marketing, which are important and necessary for writers, but then I don't have time left over to write

Most issues relate to time and in later chapters, we'll address how to find time and make the most of your time. But at this stage, I want to challenge you to dig deeper on why you want to make a change, because you are going to have to shift your behavior if you want to achieve your goals.

What is your why?

I spent 13 years as a business IT consultant. It was great money but I didn't have anything to show for my time. Everything I did at work disappeared, because it was overwritten by a new version of software or someone changed the business focus and my projects were left behind. Sure, I was paid well and I had a good lifestyle in many ways, but I was miserable and my creativity died a little more every day. In 2006, I made the decision to change my life. I was determined to leave my job and reinvent myself as an author entrepreneur.

The 'why' that drove me to the page every morning at 5 am and every evening and every weekend for years was the driving desire to leave my job, to get out of the soul-sucking, creativity-destroying situation I found myself in. Of course, I knew I had made the choices that led me there, so I made the time and did the work to get myself out of it. I finally left my consulting job in 2011 and I've never gone back.

Now I measure my life by what I create.

That's the 'why' that drives me these days, alongside the continued desire for freedom to spend my time on writing books, building my business instead of someone else's and helping others to pursue their creative goals through my books, podcast and website. And of course, the desire to never get another day job!

What drives you to write? Why do you want to be more productive? What is your 'why'?

Perhaps you have an inner sense that you're meant to be writing. I understand that feeling because it's common for those of us whose chosen medium of creation is the written word. Others have the same drive toward music, coding, dance, the visual arts, or other creative paths. But you need to be more specific.

Your 'why' needs to be big enough to help you through the hard times, because writing might be simple, but it's not easy. Some people talk about needing discipline to write, but for me, the word discipline has negative connotations of boot camps and drill instructors, which does not excite my creative soul!

You don't need discipline if you have a why because you have a positive reason that drives you to the page. You want to be there. So identify and write down your why and stick it somewhere you can see it.

Your self-definition can help you create

Back in 2006, I wrote down these words:

I am creative. I am an author.

I wrote them before I actually was creative or an author. It was an affirmation for my future self, but my brain had to move toward it because I repeated it every day as well as taking action, and eventually, I became those things.

When you say 'I am' about something specific, you claim the word for yourself. It focuses your mind on what you want to achieve. You obviously have to take action in a practical way, but the act of writing down an affirmation can help you to shift your self-definition which is the first step toward change.

Can you say, "I am a writer" out loud? Can you say, "I am creative. I am an author?" Or "I am a six-figure author," or whatever you want as your affirmation. Once you say even something as simple as, "I am a writer," then you must write. You must behave as a writer or you're not a writer.

So, who are you? What is your self-definition? When you say "I am a writer," is it reflected in how you live your life? What do writers do? Are you doing that?

"Who you are, what you think, feel and do, what you love is the sum of what you focus on."

Cal Newport, Deep Work

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•What is your why? What is driving you toward your goal? What will keep you going when things get tough?

•What is stopping you from being productive right now? What do you need to address in order to move forward?