Productivity

Writer's Block - Myth or Truth?

My article How to Conquer the Bogeyman AKA Writer’s Block was published over at The Writing Cooperative. Click here to read in its entirety. Below is a sneak peek:

Writer’s block—myth or truth? What if I told you that you are in complete control of your writing inspiration and that it doesn’t control you? That there is no mythical bogeyman standing behind you, blocking all of your great ideas, laughing as you stare at the blinking cursor agonizing over the lack of words on the screen?  

Improve Your Productivity & Focus Through Diet, Rest, & Exercise

Today's post is a guest post by Amanda VanDeWege of ResetYourWeightBasics.com.

 

Jen and I have worked collaboratively over the past six years on multiple cross-discipline projects. Knowing my passion for brain-based learning strategies as well as educating people on the significance of nutrition for a healthy weight, I’m excited to explore the links between diet, rest, and exercise as they relate to improved productivity, energy, and focus.

How to Use Time-Chunking to Increase Your Productivity + Energy Levels

Becoming more organized and truly productive is something a lot of us are focusing on. It’s not that we’re goofing off every day, but often we find ourselves caught up in busy work that doesn’t necessarily equate to productivity. Add to that a distraction habit and you have a recipe for disaster. How often have you found yourself working on a project when an idea for something else forms, so you shift tasks to capture the idea and end up exploring that path instead? Next thing you know, you have a bunch of projects started but nothing completed.  I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point!

Why Systems Matter More Than Goals

This is the time of year when we’re all thinking about goals and what we want to accomplish in the new year. But how often do we make lists of goals only to lose sight of them somewhere along the way, instead finding ourselves stuck in the same rut? 

Want to be More Productive? Filter out Busy Work.

Did you know that true productivity does not mean the ability to get more done faster? Many people think that the more tasks you get done in a day, the more productive you are. But what if those tasks don’t advance your business? What if those tasks don’t take you a step closer to your goals? Is that truly being productive? Ever feel frazzled, overwhelmed, and frustrated at the end of the day despite “getting a lot done?” This may be why — instead of advancing your business and goals, you’re busy just spinning your wheels.

How Deliberate Practice Can Lead to Success

Cognitive psychology professor, John Hayes, asked two simple questions:

    •    How long does it take to master your craft?
    •    And what do people who achieve their goals do differently than everybody else?

Hayes spent decades studying the greats, including Picasso, Mozart, and many others…and what he found is astonishing. Out of all the masters he studied, not one produced noteworthy work until the tenth year into their craft. That’s ten years of hard work, dedication, and deliberate practice before they created their “masterwork.” But as Hayes and other researchers investigated further, they found that time wasn’t the only factor that led to success. Deliberate practice was the other key component.

What is Deliberate Practice?

You may put in a lot of time, and yes, you may even see improvement, but time alone isn’t enough to make you a top performer in your craft. That’s where deliberate practice comes in. Below are the 5 key components of deliberate practice: 

  1. Break your craft down into specific goals/skills for each practice session.
  2. Focus all your attention on each goal/skill during each practice session.
  3. Build upon each skill as it is mastered—Experts build upon skills in a cumulative fashion.
  4. Evaluate. Ask yourself: What am I missing? What knowledge can I pursue to fill the gap? How can I grow and improve?
  5. Involve a coach—A coach will break down the specific aspects of each skill and work with you to help improve your overall performance in regards to your craft.

 I think James Clear said it best when he wrote:

How can we apply deliberate practice to our writing?

As a pianist, I learned early on that there was a difference between just running through an entire piece of music repeatedly and deliberately practicing for better results. A strong pianist knows to break a piece of music down into sections and drill the most difficult parts, periodically evaluating the performance and then identifying how to improve it by asking questions such as: Could I use a better fingering pattern for a smoother transition? Is this run smooth enough, fast enough?


And just like breaking down a piece of music into segments, while writing we can identify an area that needs improvement (such as settings for example) and after each writing session ask ourselves evaluating questions: Was the setting vivid enough? Did the words describe what I want the reader to see? Did I provide too much detail?


Don’t be afraid to put in the work. If you’re willing to put the hours in, and be deliberate about it, you’ll see great improvement moving forward. But beware that you don’t fall into the trap of mechanical repetition. That is, don’t do the same thing over and over again on a consistent basis without adjusting your technique to increase your limits and ability. If you just mechanically repeat the same motions, the same techniques, day in and day out, you will find yourself at a plateau. Instead, continually tweak, and then evaluate and tweak some more. Do this until you’ve pushed yourself past your limits, each day getting one percent better than the day before.

Great artists don’t wait for inspiration but instead they commit to consistent, intentional, and deliberate practice.

What small step are you taking today toward writing your masterpiece?

In next week’s blog post, I’ll be talking about writing as a business and creative entrepreneurship.