Each month, the Nonfiction Authors Association asks a burning publishing question of the industry’s best, brightest, and most innovative experts. Here’s what they have to say!

NFAA: What are your best productivity tips for writers?

Joel FriedlanderProductivity Tips from Experts

To be productive as a writer, try these simple guidelines:

  1. Schedule your time to write every day. Putting this on your schedule will help you be accountable for the promise you’ve made to yourself.
  2. Try to write at the same time each day. Developing this habit of writing will build momentum for your writing practice.
  3. Find a warm-up that works for you. Even five or 10 minutes of freewriting will get your creative juices flowing and vault you over the “blank page” inertia.

Joel Friedlander is an award-winning book designer, blogger at TheBookDesigner.com, and columnist for Publishers Weekly. He was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 10 people to follow in book publishing. https://www.thebookdesigner.com/


Paulette Ensign 

One Tip at a Time 

Choose or refine your topic by noticing the questions people repeatedly ask about your area of expertise. Those questions are often about how to do something reveal a hungry and receptive audience for your information. Responding to their questions saves you time and angst as a writer, wondering if you have a ready market for your content, rather than writing first and going on a wild goose hunt for a market. 

Write a manuscript of 52 how-to tips on the particular chosen area of your expertise as the foundation for an entire product line. The tips can be delivered in a variety of formats online and offline that satisfy a range of learning styles and lifestyles. Creating an information product line based on a single manuscript that can be expanded and contracted is a more productive way to provide your hungry and receptive audience information they want rather than continue creating new content and finding new markets.

Paulette Ensign has successfully helped thousands of writers, speakers, consultants, and coaches worldwide turn their knowledge into unique marketing tools and direct revenue streams one how-to tip at a time since 1991. www.TipsProducts.com


Kim O’Hara

No matter what, write every week toward a goal, whether it is a chapter or a page count, even if the conditions are not perfect. When you have a writing purpose and mission, you will be surprised how you can write around loud kids, in a public space, or when you are exhausted.  Writers get frustrated because they either set a deadline, or their coach (like me) gives them a deadline, and then they wait until the perfect moment to write. They are backed against a wall, and trying to write everything in one perfect day. Divine inspiration is all around; you never know when it will strike, but it needs momentum on the page.

Kim O’Hara is an Intuitive Book Coach, helping writers turn their voices into words of gold onto the page. www.astoryinside.com.


Miral Sattar

One of the biggest things that I found that affects productivity is how I feel and how I dress. Even though I work out of my own home a lot of the time, I make sure I get dressed like I would for when I used to have a corporate job. I’m ready for any video chat and my brain feels on. I do an email check and social media check in the mornings when I wake up. Then again before lunch, and then before dinner. This way I’m not constantly checking email and get focused work time in big blocks.

Miral Sattar is the CEO of LearnSelfPublishingFast.com. Miral has worked in the media industry for 15 years, most recently at TIME Magazine, where she developed and implemented the digital SEO strategy that enabled TIME to be one of the most trafficked sites in the industry.


Leslie Truex

I’m organizationally challenged, so I need a set schedule and to-dos to get things done. My goal is to write at least 1,000 words a day on whatever book I’m working on. Since my brain isn’t quite as awake after lunch, I do my writing first thing in the morning after my a.m. routine. This is ideal because I’m not distracted by email or other things that can crop up as you start the work day. I keep an outline and use it to track what I need to work on, so I know exactly what I need to do when I sit down at my computer. 

Leslie Truex is an author, freelance writer, blogger, and online entrepreneur.



Melinda Copp

Give yourself an assignment. Thinking about what to write when you sit down at your computer can eat away time. So at the end of every writing session, when you’re still in that creative flow, take a minute to give yourself an assignment for what to write the next time. Think of one section or a few main points you want to hit. You can type this directly in the manuscript, or put it on your to-do list. So when you open up that draft on your computer, you’ll know exactly what you’re supposed to be writing.

Melinda Copp helps aspiring authors write their best books. Sign up for her free creative writing course at www.writerssherparetreats.com


Beth Barany

My most favorite and useful tip for writers to get writing, or any activity really, is timed writing, ideally 15 to 20 minutes, but you can even get a lot done in 5 minutes. I even used it to write this tip list. The primary benefit is to help you focus—a challenge for many creative people. We have so many ideas clamoring for our attention; it can be hard to focus and complete something. And complete we must, if we’re to get to that sense of satisfaction that we desperately desire. I encourage you to use timed writing anytime you’re stuck, lack focus, or drive.

Another tip? It can be hard to write if you don’t know why you’re doing it and what the end goal is. So I always recommend to my clients that they clarify the Goal of the project as well as Why they want to do it. Lastly, specify What the project is, the scope if it, so you know when you’re done—or at least when a particular stage is done. Since I work with novelists, I recommend they do this for every stage: planning, writing, editing, and publishing. 

An award-winning novelist, master neuro-linguistic programming practitioner, and certified creativity coach for writers, Beth Barany specializes in helping writers experience clarity, so they can write, revise, and proudly publish their novels to the delight of their readers. More resources on publishing, book marketing, and novel writing on her blog here: http://writersfunzone.com/blog.

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