THE BLOG

Overcoming Writer's Block: The Three Catalysts to Boost Your Writing Productivity and Performance

04/30/2015 04:14 pm ET | Updated Jun 30, 2015
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Spring has sprung, which means it's time to sow the seeds that with care and watering will grow into your very own field of dreams. The time is now. Don't wait, just do.

How do you focus your watering can on the seeds that will sprout a book that can grow?

I've failed on multiple projects. Some were bad ideas, some were executed terribly, some didn't even get out of my head, and some of those that did were only partially implemented.

When I fail to meet my expectations, it crushes my confidence. Every time I failed, I felt like I was just a few minutes too late.

It's like waiting until the last minute to ask my dream date to the prom, only to find out she already said yes to someone else. A moment late is forever lost, so carpe diem - seize the day!

One last thing before I share the three catalysts that will boost your writing productivity and performance during your work sessions. I don't want you to think this article is me preaching from a pedestal about how I know the right way to do things and you need to do what I say.

All I'm doing here is expressing how right now in my life I feel more alive, inspired, and focused than ever before. I can trace that back to 3 catalysts in my work sessions.

Catalyst #1: Habitat

Where you work is the most important factor affecting your writing performance and productivity. I once heard Roger Hamilton say, "Your environment is everything. Even the most talkative person is quiet in a library. It's the same reason you wouldn't read a book in a night club." Environment dictates behavior.

That resonated deeply with me. It's about creating a space where your body knows what to do on a subconscious and psychological level. Knowing how to enter these states in specific spaces is pure power.

I have multiple spaces for different ways of being.

Creative space

This space is open, with lots of windows and a vibe of freedom. I come to this space to write, plan, and create. It is my favorite space. I love creating, and I make sure I visit this space at least once each day.

Analytical space

The next space I have is for analytics and hard numbers. This space is only for that. I reflect on the figures from the previous day, week, or month depending on the task. I realign efforts if I've gotten off-track. Nobody but me knows where this space is. I don't bring my phone. I turn off the Internet and I dive in.

Energy Space

The last space is my energy space. This is how I sustain inspiration. This room has a vision board, natural sunlight everywhere, scant furniture, and lots of pillows. In this space I re-align with my purpose, my intent, the big WHY for all the work I do. In this space I journal, meditate, hangout with friends, listen to music, dance, and basically re-connect with the kid I have always been. This allows me to go into my other two spaces feeling free and light.

Catalyst #2: Habit

Thousands and thousands of articles have been written about habits, so I won't self-righteously tell you what works and what doesn't.

Richard Branson wakes up at 5:45 a.m., and Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, wakes up around 4:00 a.m.

Warren Buffett, Arianna Huffington, and Bill Gates all aim for around 7 hours of sleep each night, as does Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.

Habits need to be tailored.

Observing all of these individuals, you will come to realize they all have a rhythm; a daily routine they stick to. These are consistent actions they've been using for most of their lives.

They each have certain routines in the AM, and focuses throughout the day that keep them energized and inspired.

The only two personal points I want to cover are:

A. The #1 mistake I make in forming habits.

B. The #1 technique I use that, when implemented, has tremendous consequences in habit success for me.

My mistake is I try to establish more than one habit at the same time.

Let's say I want to wake up earlier, write more each day, and spend more time exercising. That's three different habits I'm trying to make happen all at the same time.

The usual result is that I spend two weeks in a vicious cycle of failing at two out of three, taking turns on which one I fail at. I inevitably end up feeling like... a failure.

Failure is such a crappy feeling, which leads me to my next point.

It wasn't that I was a failure; it was that my strategy was failing.

What I did next was add just one habit at a time. After 14 days I found that the habit was embedded and I had more control. Subsequently, I was able to add another habit.

I once heard if you try to push two balls up a hill, both will end up rolling back down. This was a great analogy for my old habit formation method.

Overall, habits are all about consistency.

Catalyst #3: Hacks

A hack is a quick energy boost. Most people accomplish this by drinking coffee, which is a timeless hack. Here's a list of hacks I use to improve my writing productivity and performance:

A) Music.

When I write I listen to the same song for the whole duration. It keeps me focused. I begin to write to the beat. I even create a rhythm with the beat. It's almost like some kind of trance state.

B) Pomodoro Technique.

A pomodoro timer is a great way to create intense work sessions. This is great for individuals with lots of responsibilities.

Set a timer for 25 minutes. Focus on your most important task.

When the timer goes off, stop for 5-10 minutes. Use this time to relax, grab a drink of water (or coffee), send an email, or anything else you can fit into that amount of time.

C) Objective List.

Write all the objectives you want to achieve during the week, then write the three actions you need to do to make each one happen.

Keep the actions to just three. Keep your objective list small as well, otherwise you'll be setting yourself up for failure.

As you tackle these short lists of objectives and actions you'll feel accomplished, which will boost your confidence, and then you'll approach your work in a better spirit.

A big fat list can leave you feeling pretty small. Nobody wants to feel small.

D) Approach Fear.

Each and every day I try do something I fear - every single day. Why? It gets my heart beating and reminds me I'm alive. I love feeling alive.

Approaching fear is the only chance we have to put our heart into our work. It's the only chance you have to do what you love, literally.

The time is now. Any other moment is too late.