How to Be More Productive: 21 Ways to Start the New Year Right

How to Be More Productive: 21 Ways to Start the New Year Right

We’re all getting ready to close another year of ferocious writing.

Over the past couple of years in business, I have learned to use December as a time to reflect on my brand. I assess what worked well this past year, what didn’t work so well, and what I’d like to tweak for next year. I invite you to do the same!

Like all other aspects of our lives, there are plenty of ways writers can get prepared for the New Year. Below is a list of 21 ideas to help you get reorganized, rejuvenated, and refocused for 2016.

21 Ways Writers Can Prepare For the New Year

  1. Review what you have written this year.

Reflect on themes you were particularly drawn to, characters that spoke to you, and places that inspired you. Use this review as guide to plan topics for next year.  

  1. Finish any unfinished writing — blog posts, articles, etc. — that still speak to you.
  1. Reflect on why you didn’t finish some pieces.

You’ll likely reveal topics you may be uncomfortable writing about, or areas of your writing where you get “stuck.” You might find you want to brush up on certain skills.

  1. Buy new journals to keep your ideas and projects organized.
  1. Take care of any nagging health issues — emotional, spiritual or physical.
  1. Buy a sketchbook to map ideas or expand your writing in a visual format.

Think you have to be an artist to use this technique? Think again! This Pinterest board has many ideas for art journaling.

  1. Buy new pens, pencils and erasers.

Throw out the old half-used ones you always avoid when you’re digging for a writing utensil.

  1. Note your most productive and creative writing times.

Block them off and schedule time to write on your calendar.

  1. Get plenty of rest, and hydrate!

Your brain works better when you get your eight glasses of water a day.

  1. Have a passion-based purpose for writing.

It will keep you motivated during dry spells and focused on your mission, rather than just your feelings.

  1. Make a mini vision board that represents your commitment to writing for 2016.

Look at it when you need a reminder of your goals and how to reach them.

  1. Create an inspiring writing environment, complete with a desk and decorations that foster creativity.

I don’t mean you have to go all out and buy new stuff. In fact, look around your house and pick up pieces that inspire you, then carry them into your office and rearrange things a little bit!

  1. Prepare a playlist (or two, or three) of music that motivates you.
  1. Test out new productivity approaches to see which might be a good fit for you.
  1. Consider partnering with a writing coach to help you meet your goals and explore new writing methods.
  1. Research writing conferences you’d like to attend in the new year.

I’ve got my eye on Dani Shapiro’s workshops and Hippocamp!

  1. Make a backup of your digital work.

You should do this more than once a year — now’s a great time to set a monthly or weekly reminder on your calendar.

  1. Gather your favorite candle scents and oils for the new year.

Your writing brain loves scent stimulation. Great scents for the new year include orange, peppermint, and warm smells like clove and cinnamon.

  1. Stock up on your favorite coffees and teas.
  1. Research new writing techniques you’d like to try in 2016.

The internet is loaded with classes for all types of writers. One of my favorite places to enroll in classes is WOW! Women on Writing.

  1. Join or start a writing group in your town.

Writing is always more fun when shared with others!

What other tips would you add to this list?

Filed Under: Craft
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  • Andrew says:

    As well as all those, you can also do what I did: purchase a very cheap, old laptop that can only be used for word processing and web browsing. There. No more distractions.

    For now…

  • Even if people only do have your list, it will get them motivated to write. The only thing a writer shouldn’t do is make excuses why he didn’t write.

  • Charles Taylor says:

    Shannon: You are a true writing marksman! Many of the points you made have my name on them. You reminded me that getting back in the gym will not only deflate my growing midriff tire – it will help me focus better and give me more writing stamina. I worked so hard last year and accomplished quite a bit. However, I disappointed myself by missing some important, potentially lucrative deadlines. The 21 tips that you shared served as a wake up call for me. Thanks for the brain food!

  • Rewari says:

    Thank you sir! These tips are awesome

  • Adam Hughes says:

    Love the list. I would urge that digital backups need to include complete website contents, particularly if you’re using a hosted WordPress solution. Easy enough to download it all — icluding databases– once a week or so, but really tough to re-create your site from scratch if something goes wrong and you don’t have backups.

  • Kat Tretina says:

    I like to use any excuse possible to buy office supplies (or more typically, school supplies meant for teens I find too cute to ignore. Hey, I’m a freelancer; who is ever going to know that my pen holder is a gold fox?). It makes me fresh and productive and ready to get cracking.

    My biggest resolution is to set aside time to NOT be in front of a computer, tablet, TV, or phone. And not even read a book. A time to enjoy a walk, lounge on my balcony, or just lay quietly in bed. As writers, our eye health is essential to our livings but they really take a beating every day. Giving them a break will keep me working, longer.

  • AJ Bond says:

    These are excellent ways to get into writing in 2016, especially relating to health! Also, I like any reason to buy new journals and pens. Happy New Year!

  • This is a great list! I like that you included practical writing advice mixed with items that we might often overlook, like taking care of ourselves! (Also, thank you for adding HippoCamp to the list!)

    • Shannon says:

      Hi Donna! So excited to find out about HippoCamp this year! Can’t wait to attend and learn and grow as a writer. I’m really into nourishing the whole body and balance work and play–because that is what creates greatness. 🙂

  • pooja says:

    i want to start writing and wanna improve my skills..plz suggest me how should i start…??

    • Just do it. Practice, practice, and more practice. And keep reading sites like this one for great advice.

    • Shannon says:

      I must agree with Jason here. You just have to practice. Writing is a practice, just like yoga, meditation, and learning to cook or paint. 🙂

      • Ri says:

        I agree. But what about time management? and how can we practice our passions and hobbies and write then publish our own writings if we have a full time writing job? Shall someone quit their stable well paid job and go for the journey of writing and self publishing? What do you think?

  • Great list. #8 “Note your most productive and creative writing times” is one I live by. I’m more productive for certain things at certain times, such as I’m a better blogger in the morning, but a better horror writer after the sun goes down.

    • Shannon says:

      Jason! Great point there. I, too, divide my day up into various tasks, where I will succeed at my most productive times for task. Writing always happens first thing in the morning when I’m fresh! 🙂

  • Great list, Shannon. I particularly like the tip about taking care of nagging health issues. Getting rid of aches, pains and other manageable medical distractions can clear a path to productivity. No doubt about it.

    • Shannon says:

      Hi Kathryn! Thanks so much for leaving a comment. Yes, nagging health issues really make us feel blah, as well as decrease our productivity. Best not to ignore them!

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