At the beginning of October, I set myself a challenge to write more in one month than I ever had before. I wanted to try out new forms of writing, look for new places to publish, and increase the quantity of the writing that I was already doing.
I didn’t get to every single project that I had imagined, but October was still a overwhelming success. I’d guess I wrote at least 5 times more than I ever had in one month, and it wasn’t by sacrificing quality for quantity. Not everything that I wrote was great, but I managed to write a few of my best pieces ever.
The experiment went so well, that I continued it into November. As I wrap up my sixth week of intense writing, I’m still feeling as energized as when I first began. In fact, next week, I’m hoping to start on yet another new project.
What’s the secret to my newfound productivity? Is it new project management software? Caffeine pills? A book on stoicism that changed my life?
No, it’s none of the usual suspects. My secret is far more disappointing: I got laid off in the middle of a pandemic.
This September, I suddenly found myself with way too much free time and nothing to do. I spent that first month feeling sorry for myself. But, beginning in October, I decided to pour my time and energy into something productive that I love: writing.
Of course, it’s been easier to write more when I don’t have a full-time job taking up the majority of my day. There’s nothing really surprising about this.
My point in explaining it though, is to make it clear that the amount I’m writing is only possible because I have much more free time right now than most people. If a reader didn’t know my circumstances, they might think I have some superhuman power of productivity.
Far too often, I see bloggers mislead their audience like this. They tell their readers that they have an easy way to write 5000 words a day. What the bloggers fail to mention is that — unlike their readers — they write as a full-time job. It’s far easier to knock out 5000 words in a day when you have nothing else that you need to do.
Boosting Your Productivity
Writing more often is a great goal, even if you have a full-time job. However, you need to be realistic about your limits.
If you work 9–5 and come home with 2 kids to take care of, there’s just no way that you’re going to have as much time to write as the undergrad college student blogging about their productivity hacks.
When you see a highly prolific writer online, its important to question how they are able to write so much before you try to emulate them. Are they writing after work, or is writing their job? Are they still in college, with tons of free time between classes? Have they just been laid off, and been making an attempt to put their time to good use?
It’s great to be more prolific, but to make a writing habit sustainable, you need to balance it with the rest of your life.