I used to marvel at writers who are really prolific. I always wondered how they are able to constantly crank out a nonstop flow of new material.
But I’ve since discovered the secret. I discovered this little-known gem in a transcription from a speech by legendary copywriter Eugene Schwartz.
Here’s the first secret… writers WRITE.
A lot of people tell me they want to be writers. That’s simple… write!
Reading books about writing, listening to audio courses about writing and going to seminars does NOT make you a writer.
And you don’t need to be anointed by some guru to become a writer. Just write and you’re a writer.
That’s easy enough, isn’t it?
Here’s the second (and most valuable)
secret to becoming a prolific writer:
Set aside 30 minutes, six days a week, where you do nothing but write.
During this 30 minutes, shut off the phone and any other distractions and just write. Don’t check your e-mail, shuffle through your swipe file, do research on the Internet… the ONLY thing you do is write.
You say you can’t think of anything to write? That doesn’t matter. You just need to start the MOTION of writing and get your pen moving or your fingers typing.
I’m not kidding… it really doesn’t matter what you write. You just need to get going. Motion beats meditation, remember?
So write “blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda” and keep doing that until you do think of something to write.
Keep writing whatever comes to mind and if you run out of ideas, then go back to writing “blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda”.
The point is, you will do nothing but write in those 30 minutes… even if all you end up writing is “blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda”.
But don’t worry. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll spend 30 minutes writing nothing but “blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda”.
What usually happens is you might write “blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda” for a few minutes and then the seeds of an idea start flowing. So you follow that and write about whatever pops into your mind and follow that until it peters out.
Then when your mind goes blank again you go back to writing “blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda”. A short time later you’ll get another idea and you can write about that.
And I recommend you do this six days a week. (Hey… even God rested one day a week.)
What’s that you say? My secret to being a prolific writer sounds too simple?
It is simple… that’s the beauty of it. The hard part is being disciplined enough to actually do it.
Think about it… how consistent have you really been in your writing over the past six months?
My bet is you’ve been consistently inconsistent. You probably hit it hard for an hour or two here and there. But you haven’t yet disciplined yourself to a daily writing habit. That is why you’re not as prolific as you could be.
Here’s another secret I learned from Gene Schwartz…
Gene used to set an egg timer for 33 minutes and 33 seconds. During that time, he would fully concentrate on the task at hand and would not get up from his desk or allow himself to be distracted by anything.
But the minute that timer went off, no matter what he was doing or how deeply he was engrossed in it, he would get up from his desk, walk away and take a break.
That was his secret of getting things done. He totally focused on the task at hand for 33 minutes and 33 seconds… and no longer.
As I recall, he said that helped keep him focused and also kept his mind fresh.
I’ve been using Gene’s secret and I can tell you that it works. I have to admit, sometimes it’s hard to get up and walk away from a project when the timer goes off and you’re really getting into it… but just do it. You can always come back to it. Taking breaks every 33 minutes and 33 seconds will keep you from getting fatigued and will keep you fresh.
But since we’re in the digital age you might want something a bit more high tech than an egg timer.
I use a nifty little free program called “Cool Timer”. You can download it here.
The thing I like about Cool Timer (besides being FREE) is you can program “preset” periods like 33 minutes and 33 seconds. So just open the program, load your preset and click the “start” button. It will start counting down and will sound an alarm when your preset period is up.
You can select any sound you like as your alarm sound. I use the soundbyte on this popular website (from a Cheech and Chong movie) but I’ve got a warped sense of humor. Something more subtle might work better for you.
Here’s what I suggest: Do your 30 minutes of writing at the same time every day… preferably in the morning.
For many people, shortly after awakening is when your subconscious mind is fresh with ideas. That’s a great time to write.
Let me take a sidetrack for a minute…
It takes self-discipline to stick to your writing schedule. To be quite honest, there are a lot of sacrifices you have to make in order to enjoy success and progress in your personal and business life.
I’ve always said…
You’ll either endure the short term
pain of self-discipline… or…
suffer the long term pain of regret.
This “discipline” thing seems to be what holds a majority of people back from doing the things necessary to get closer to their goals.
Don’t feel bad. All of us suffer from a lack of discipline.
Not a week goes by that I don’t hear from one of my subscribers who is struggling and not getting the kind of results they want in their business. In a lot of cases the problem is caused by inconsistency with their daily habits and routine.
The question I always get is, “What can I do to stay motivated and disciplined with the things I need to do to increase my income?”
That seems to be the biggest problems most of us have… self-discipline and consistency. (Unless you’re Dan Kennedy. That guy is my hero in that department.)
I wish I could wave a magic wand and solve all your self-discipline problems so you could achieve all your goals. But the truth is… any time you stick your head above the crowd and try to advance and achieve goals, all kinds of forces come out of nowhere to oppose your progress.
I don’t understand all the mystical and spiritual things happening in this universe, so I don’t understand why this happens. I only know it does happen.
Allow me to share a few secrets in this issue that I’ve learned that should help keep you disciplined and on track.
I recently came through a series of crises that had not only taken their toll on my mind but affected my health, too.
But I’m not lying around feeling sorry for myself. Well, at least not anymore. Ya know why?
Shit happens. Deal with it. It happens to all of us.
You can lie around wallowing in self pity… which I double-dog guarantee you will make things worse! Or you can decide to make a few very simple changes in your daily routine that will make a profound difference in your life and future.
Here’s a little secret that I started a few weeks ago that has made a big difference in my life.
A good friend of mine recently told me something very valuable he learned in federal prison:
“Take care of your routine and
your routine will take care of you.”
If you have no daily routine and you just fly by the seat of your pants, your life will be chaotic, to say the least.
So, on the advice of my friend, this is what I do every morning to set myself up for a successful day. (A bunch of consecutive successful days make a successful week… successful month… and successful year.)
But first let me tell you about what I used to do:
I would wake up every day (at varying times) and crawl out of bed.
Then I’d go into the kitchen and make coffee. Then I sat down at the computer and started checking my e-mail. That was usually enough to get things off on the wrong foot.
Checking your e-mail is the WORST possible way to start your day, in my most humble (but accurate) opinion.
Then I’d drink a couple cups of coffee while reading e-mail or putting out the “fires of the day”.
Next would usually be breakfast or a protein drink and I’d go back to handling whatever situation screamed the loudest.
Then there were phone calls, paying bills, and other assorted fun things.
Around 2:00 PM I would go to the gym because it was the least crowded at that time. That was actually a high point of my day.
Look, the point I’m trying to make is that I let my whole day just kind of drift along dealing with whatever cropped up. There was no plan or organization.
Here’s what I NOW do and
what I recommend YOU do:
I get out of bed at the same time every day, and… I get out of bed! I don’t hit the snooze alarm or lounge around an extra ten minutes. (Weekends are a different story though.)
I drink a little water while getting dressed, and I head out the door for a twenty to thirty minute walk. Donner the devil dog always walks with me.
The purpose of this walk is not for cardio, fat burning, or any kind of health reasons. This is my “start-of-the-day, clear my head” walk. I take a fairly leisurely walk to be alone with my thoughts.
Sometimes I think about the things I need to accomplish that day. Some times I think about my goals and dreams. Some times I recall fond memories. Other times I review my mental list of people to kill. (It grows longer every day.)
But most of the time I just walk and let my mind wander.
If you start your day off on the right foot and feel good about it, it affects every other facet of your life. You’ll stay more consistent with your other daily habits, too.
If you can keep this habit up for at least three weeks, I guarantee it will have a positive effect in all aspects of your life.
To be honest, I really don’t know HOW it works… I only know that it does.
My guess is that setting this simple little habit into motion makes it easier to stay disciplined with the other positive habits in your life. It basically starts a “positive habits snowball effect.”
After my walk, I drink a very low carb protein drink with a little fish oil. Carbs usually make me feel lethargic but protein keeps the blood sugar levels steady for longer periods and that keeps your mind fresh.
Then I start Cool Timer and write for 33 minutes and 33 seconds.
When I hear Cheech’s voice, I know it’s time to quit.
I take a short break and then start doing the daily mundane stuff like checking e-mail, returning phone calls, etc.
And ya know what? I feel really good when I start my day this way.
And I’m writing more than I have in years.
In fact, these newsletters are the direct result of my daily 33 minutes and 33 seconds writing habit.
I had been planning on doing this blog for the past couple years but it always got pushed to the back burner. I told myself I didn’t have the time to do it.
Now that I’ve learned the secrets to being more prolific and managing my time better… well, you’re reading some of the results.
And hopefully you’re glad about it.
All the best,