A Productivity Refresh

Take Charge of Your Author Career

by Megan Haskell

The last few weeks have been a nightmare in terms of my writing productivity. Between spring break, a sick kiddo, and a few family issues that needed to be addressed, life interrupted my routine.

How dare it, right?

As writers—especially authors like me who are pushing for a career in this crazy indie publishing world—productivity is king. The more words on the page each day, the better.

But life sometimes takes precedence. Sometimes we have to cut back on words and focus on the bigger picture.

What is your why?

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had to keep reminding myself that my number one priority is my family. I am a stay-at-home-mom first and, I can’t compare myself to full-time writers. I’m not there yet.

I write to build a long-term career that will work around my kids’ schedules. I write to fill a creative need. I write to maintain my self-identity.

I don’t write for the money.

Though eventually I would like to have a full-time income again, I know that my why is bigger than that.

That said, I also need to get back on track. For goodness sake, I teach courses on productivity, I should absolutely be making my minimum goals every day, even if those goals need to be scaled back a bit to allow for life’s intrusions.

It’s time to practice what I preach.

It’s time for a productivity refresher

The first thing I teach in all my productivity classes is to pull out your calendar and find your empty spaces. Here’s my example.

  1. I block off all the non-negotiable events: school drop-off and pick-ups, doctor’s appointments, kids tae kwon do classes, swimming lessons, violin lessons, meetings (even the writing ones), etc.
  2. I schedule physical and mental health breaks: workouts, meditation sessions, yoga classes, couch time with husband, even sleep. Whatever I need to do to keep my health in the best possible condition, I put it on the calendar.

Now look at your schedule. Where are the blank spaces in your daily routine? This is your potential writing time.

Create your habit

The next step is to dedicate time on your calendar for writing. Take a bright colored pen and write it down. Don’t let those other life needs encroach on your writing time. It is sacred.

Ideally, you should write every day at the same time to build a habit and train your brain for creativity. I recognize that’s not always possible.

I started taking kickboxing classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Unfortunately, the class times are during what should be my writing time. However, I’ve decided that the benefits of kickboxing for my physical and mental health take priority.

To combat that life encroachment, I’ve started using my usual 5:30 am workout slot (which I don’t need on kickboxing days, obviously) for writing. I’m still getting the hang of turning my brain on that early, but at least I’m writing every day.

It’s good to try new things.

A fresh look at your routine

When life gets in the way, don’t let it take you down. Take another look at your schedule with fresh eyes and rework your priorities. If you can remember your why and find your blank spaces, you’ll be able to rebuild the habits that may have been broken.

With my calendar back in service, guess what?

I’ve written every day.

How do you freshen up your routine when you’ve fallen off the writing wagon?

Megan Haskell, Author
Megan Haskell, Author

Legend has it I was born with a book in my hands. Thirty-ish years later, I’m a stay-at-home-mom who prefers a good story over doing the dishes. Only now, I’m building my own fantasy worlds! I am the award-winning author of The Sanyare Chronicles, a fast-paced dark fantasy adventure set in the nine faerie realms, and Program Director of O.C. Writers, A Network of Published and Aspiring Authors, located in Orange County, CA. To find out more about me and my books, visit my website at www.meganhaskell.com!

3 thoughts on “A Productivity Refresh

  1. “Everything, EVERYTHING serves the art.” That’s what I have always told my daughter, the actress. Life will always get in the way. There are times when you will have the energy and time to readjust your priorities, take those brightly colored pens and rework the schedule. But there will be times when you just can’t. Either your circumstance, or your energy, or your personality, or something outside of yourself won’t allow it. But whatever is going on, it is something that will come up in your art later on. If your’re an actor, it’s the feeling you’re experiencing during this “down time” that you’ll be able to tap into later. Absorb it. Memorize it. Keep it locked away. If your a writer, it’s the experience that you can relate through your characters. Write the frustration down. Put it on an index card in your file, whatever. That’s the beautiful thing about art; it’s about life. And everything that happens to us really does serve the art.

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