Struggling with your writing? What if you could become productive, quite painlessly, and enjoy the process?
You can; just relax.
Does that sound too simple? In a way, it is.
Although I love productivity tips and apps, over the years I’ve come to understand that I much prefer thinking about productivity to getting on with it. Creativity isn’t complicated. Mostly it’s just getting out of your own way.
Develop an uncomplicated process and become productive
Ray Bradbury’s book, Zen in the Art of Writing, simplifies productivity brilliantly, not only in writing, but in any form of work. He suggests that to become productive, mix these activities:
WORK. That’s the first one. RELAXATION. That’s the second. Followed by… DON’T THINK!
The book offers amazing insights into writing, creativity, and productivity. It rewards rereading every few years; you’re sure to get something new from it each time.
Let’s look at the activities, starting with WORK.
1. WORK: writing means writing—anything you like
Bradbury recommends a schedule. He decided to produce a thousand words a day. Remember to relax, and once you’ve started writing, don’t think: expect words to come to you, and they will.
If you don’t like the words, avoid fussing. Accept them. You can edit later.
2. RELAXATION: allow your body and brain to idle
Relax your body. You can’t be creative if you’re tense because a tense body produces a tense mind.
Allow your brain’s Default Mode Network to take over:
When you stop struggling, your brain idles. However, it’s anything but idle… It defaults into a creative-thinking process which uses memory and imagination.
Try any of these physical relaxation exercises; make them part of your writing toolbox.
3. DON’T THINK: get out of your own way
Do you over-think? It’s a curse. And it’s unnecessary. From the article on writing a novel fast:
… the “no excuses” method… My theory on why it works is that it helps you to get out of your own way: you stop over-thinking.
Accept what you write. You can always fix what you’ve written, but if you second-guess yourself you’ll produce little, or nothing.
Mix the activities in any order you choose
Work, Relaxation, Don’t Think—you can use Ray Bradbury’s recommendations in any order you choose.
If you like, start with “don’t think”. Write spontaneously.
Perhaps you pick “relaxation”: relax for ten minutes, before starting work for the day.
Or choose “work.” Open your files on a current project, and get on with it, remembering to release tension and avoid second-guessing yourself in the process.
Have fun with the activities. They’ll make you more productive without stressing. You’ll have more fun, too. 🤗
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.