Book Notes: The Productive Writer

The Productive Writer by Sage Cohen. 

The Productive Writer: Tips & Tools to Help You Write More, Stress Less & Create Success(Amazon Affiliate Link)

My Notes:

This book covers just about everything you can think of – from high level thoughts on maintaining a productive nature, to more detailed instructions on keeping paper files etc. There are many good reviews on this book, particularly from newer writers focused on finding a productive flow.

Interestingly, for a book that’s been out nearly 3 years now, this is the only book focused on the theme of productivity for writers.


1. The Inner Editor

“For example, when I’m doing freewriting, one of my favorite writing calisthenics for getting loose and ready for action, I’ll put my editor in charge of counting pages, keeping time, insisting that my hand keep moving, and demanding that I turn away from deliberate, thinking-triggered writing. Basically, my editor facilitates the mechanics of the process so my mind is free to wander. With such an important job to do, my editor is far too busy to start throwing her weight around; she knows she’ll have ample time to judge the nonsense I’m scribbling later. For now, she gets to be the taskmaster supervising the scribble. How can you occupy your own, well-meaning inner editor” Read more at location 575 (Kindle)

I have an active inner editor who often gets in the way also. Giving them a large and dedicated job seems far too easy for me. But sometimes, it works!

2. Pay Yourself First

“Find New Ways to Pay Yourself First” Cohen, Sage (2010-12-02). The Productive Writer (pp. 37-38). F+W Media, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Financial experts recommend that you pay yourself first — putting money into emergency savings, IRA accounts, and other such investments in your future — before paying everyone else you owe. The most productive writers I know live by the same rule: They invest in themselves by spending time on writing as the first priority, no matter how many other priorities they have in their full and fabulous lives.

The fact is, we all face a unique mix of freedoms and limitations when it comes to paying ourselves first. Want to find out if you have more wiggle room for writing than you imagined? Consider these questions:

  • What entertainment activities could I go without, and write instead?
  • Could I find extra time to write on my way to or home from work?
  • Could I wake up a little earlier and write before my day starts?
  • …more.

This section of the book was the most inspirational piece of the lot for me. When I first read this, I sat with my mouth open, having struggled with a lot of guilt over why and how I should be writing. Writing for money – or to pay myself, offers the force behind finding the time to write in the first place.

3. Define Your Prime Time

“This is your invitation to start experimenting with your own sense of prime writing time. Right now. Does your cup overflow with imagery with that first coffee on the drive into work, or are you tapping the revelation vein at two in the morning when you can prowl in the shadows? Or maybe you’re an “anytime is fine for me” kind of writer”. Cohen, Sage (2010-12-02). The Productive Writer (p. 54). F+W Media, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

The author didn’t go into great detail on this, however later on in the same section talks about Working with What we Have, and building time into schedules, tying it all in with a future life plan.

My prime time changes over the months and seasons. Although technically I used to write best at 5pm each day, this is the worst timing for a mother and dinner cooker / homework supervisor. Now I’ve trained myself for more productivity early mornings. Other writers only have time to write late at night outside of their day jobs, or get up an hour earlier in the mornings to write.




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